Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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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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25 Great Quotes from What’s Best Next by Matt Perman

What's Best NextI recently completed a wonderful study of Matt Perman’s excellent book What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms The Way You Get Things Done, with some friends in a faith and work book club at work. It was the second time I had read the book since its release in 2014.

There is so much of value in the book that it is extremely difficult to pick out just a few favorite quotes, but here are 25 that I found particularly helpful. I would highly recommend that you read this book on “Gospel-Driven Productivity”.

  1. True productivity is not first about efficiency — doing things right and doing them quickly — but effectiveness — doing the right things.
  2. Productivity is about making a contribution and giving more than we get so that God gets the glory (not us).
  3. A radical concern for others is to be at the heart of our productivity and at the heart of everything we do every day.
  4. Being productive is not just about getting things done. It’s about being a useful person, making a contribution, and leaving things better than you found them.
  5. Generosity is to be the guiding principle for our lives. This is both the right thing to do and the way to be most productive. It is the surprising, counterintuitive key to productivity.
  6. The overarching principle of the Christian life is that we are here to serve, to the glory of God. According to the Bible, a truly productive life is lived in service to others.
  7. If our works are to be truly productive — that is, affirmed by God at the final judgment and last forever — they need to be done with a love for God at the center. Anything else is ultimately idolatry
  8. One of the best forms of generosity in our work is excellence. Excellence matters not only because it is right and exciting in itself, but even more significantly because it is a way of serving people.
  9. The fundamental way to know what’s best next — to make good decisions in an age of unlimited options — is to be a person of character
  10. Discernment based on love is the way to know what’s best.
  11. The core principle of effectiveness is to know what’s most important and put it first.
  12. The ultimate foundation of your mission is not your character or even correct principles. It’s what God has done for you in Christ and the fact that, if you believe in Christ, God is now your Father.
  13. The purpose of life is to know God, enjoy God, reflect his glory back to him in the pursuit of justice and mercy in all things, and do this in community with others through Jesus Christ.
  14. Your mission is the ultimate reason for your existence — forever. It is your chief why. Your life goal is the concrete what. It is the chief way that you seek to fulfill your mission.
  15. You need to have an overarching, passionate, God-centered aim to your life — an overarching goal and message that flows from your mission and directs the priorities of your life.
  16. Your roles are all callings from God and thus avenues of worship. You can serve him just as fully in the “secular” areas of your life as you can in the spiritual areas.
  17. God designed the world so that there will always be more things for us to do than we are able to do. This isn’t just so we learn to prioritize; it’s so that we learn to depend on one another. And that’s what delegation enables us to do.
  18. Put first things first, and stop doing second things. The fundamental ways to reduce are through delegating, eliminating, automating, and deferring (DEAD).
  19. Multitasking seems like a way to save time but actually costs more time and is, in fact, impossible. It is inefficient because it makes both tasks take longer. But it is also impossible because you cannot literally multitask. The human brain simply cannot focus on two things at once. God is the only multitasker.
  20. Ask in everything: How can I build others up? This brings us back to the fundamental principle behind everything: You are here to do good for others, to the glory of God. All productivity practices, all of our work, everything is given to us by God for the purpose of serving others.
  21. Since Gospel-Driven Productivity is about putting our productivity practices — and all that we have — in the service of God’s purposes, that means we will put our productivity practices in the service of fighting large global problems and bringing the gospel to all nations.
  22. See everything you do, in all areas of your life, as means of serving God and others.
  23. It is in our vocations that we take our faith into the world and the gospel spreads most fully. Whatever your job is, wherever you are, it is both meaningful in itself and a means of advancing the gospel. It is through your work that God changes the world.
  24. We can go even farther and say that non-ministry vocations are the key to the spread of the gospel globally, because our vocations are the chief way we bring our faith into the world. The gospel spreads through our vocations.
  25. We must have a robust doctrine of work if we are going to reach the nations with the gospel.

To find out more about Matt’s ministry and check out some helpful resources, go to his website.


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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articlesslacker

  • Extreme Work: Striving and Sloth. Robert Alexander writes “Rather than seeing work as something God has given us, we are prone to two opposite but equivalent errors: striving and sloth. Workaholics (the strivers) and slackers (the slothful) are controlled by fear, pride, and/or unbelief – rather than seeing themselves as imitators of God.”
  • Six Ways God’s at Work in You — At Work. Keith Welton writes “In reality, the workforce is not only how God works through you; it is a place where God works inside of you, conforming you to the image of Christ. He may feel distant, but he’s not. He is using the difficulties and pressures in your job right now to focus you in at least six areas.”
  • Faith and Work. This sermon, from Tim Keller, is the seventh sermon in Redeemer Presbyterian Church’s current series “Where We are Going: The City and the Mission”. It’s a series focused on Redeemer’s gospel based core values and is part of a special season at Redeemer called “Rise”.
  • The Calling Course. Dan Cumberland has posted three helpful videos in his Calling Course. Here’s the first one “What We Talk About When We Talk About Calling”.
  • Switching Fields: From Professional Soccer to Pastoral Ministry. Former soccer player Gavin Peacock writes “But the Lord gave me another calling still: to be a minister of the gospel. I’ve been a Christian since I was 18, but the call to pastoral ministry came 10 years ago.”
  • In this “Minute from Maxwell”, John Maxwell states a mentor is one who “goes the way, knows the way and shows the way”.
  • When Work Feels Fruitless. Leah Hollingsworth writes about being called to the work of a mother.
  • The Key to Great Companies. Dave Ramsey talks about creating an amazing company culture by oversharing with your team.
  • Affordable Housing Should Reflect God’s Heart. Angela Shepherd interviews Matthew Rooney, chief operating officer of MDG Design + Construction, an affordable housing construction and development firm in New York City, about his work.

CONFLICT:

  • In this “Minute with Maxwell”, John Maxwell states that if you are going to lead people you are going to have conflict.  You need to embrace it.
  • Dealing with Conflict in Healthy and Biblical Ways. Dave Kraft writes “Knowing how to deal openly and honestly with conflict with coworkers, friends and family is critical to good leadership.”
  • 4 Rules to Prevent Destructive Conflict. Alan Zimmerman writes “You must be extremely careful about the words you use in any conflict situation.  They can literally make or break any chance you have of resolving the conflict.” Here are three more rules.

Continue reading


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Do You Have a Personal Mission Statement?

Change the WorldI’ve been reading and discussing Matt Perman’s excellent What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms The Way You Get Things Done with a few friends in a faith and work book club. Recently, we’ve been reading about how to create our own personal mission statements.

Perman writes that mission statements are biblical, and that we can find them throughout the Bible. He states that there are three main components to a good mission statement. He looks at each component using Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount as the foundation. He states that the entire sermon is about the purpose of life and as such is our mission statement. The three components of our personal mission statement are:

  • Core purpose. Our core purpose states our overall reason for existence. Perman indicates this is where we state the biblical purpose of life in our own words, and in a way that reflects our uniqueness and that applies to us. How would you state your core purpose?
  • Core principles. This section of our mission statement contains our answers to the question “What main principles am I going to use to guide my life?” Perman tells us that something passes muster as a core principle in our lives if it is something we would hold to even if we were punished for it. To state it another way, these are the principles we would hold to even if it was to our disadvantage. Perman suggests listing our top twenty guiding principles based on what God has revealed about our purpose and what glorifies Him. What principles would be on your list?
  • Core beliefs. Perman tells us that our core beliefs lay a gospel foundation underneath our mission. They answer the below two questions:
  • Our identity. Who are we?
  • Our ultimate destination. Where are we going to end up at the end of all of this?

Perman offers the following as sample core beliefs:

“I am a child of God who has been forgiven and redeemed by Christ alone, through faith alone, to the glory of God alone.”

If you were to write your core beliefs, what would they look like?

Perman writes that the ultimate foundation of our mission statement is not our character or our principles, but what God has done for us in Christ, and the fact that if we believe in Christ, God is our Father.

I’m in the process of writing my personal mission statement. Why not try drafting up yours? If you do, I’d love for you to share it with me.

Also, I’d recommend you read Matt’s book What’s Best Next. This is already the second time I’ve read it.


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Naughty or Nice?

Our Son is God cartoon

UPDATED PAGES ON THE BLOG:Ordinary

 Book Review: Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World by Michael Horton

 I’m Currently Reading

 toby mac 2Concert Review: Toby Mac, Matt Maher and Ryan Stevenson at Braden Auditorium – Dec. 11

INTEGRATING FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Favorite Quotes of the Week

~ THIS AND THAT ~

IN THE NEWS:

TO MAKE YOU SMILE:

Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael

Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael

THEOLOGY

CHRISTIAN LIVING:

MUSIC:

  • FREE! Tenth Avenue North Concerts in Peoria. The group behind the hit songs “By Your Side” and “Hold My Heart” will perform three free concert services at Northwoods December 27 & 28.
  • The Modern Hymnal: An interview with Keith Getty.I think you’ll enjoy this interview with Keith Getty, perhaps today’s best modern hymn writer.
  • Carrie Underwood sings “Something in the Water” on The Tonight Show – one of my top songs of the year.
  • New Paul McCartney Song “Hope for the Future”. Watch the video here which turns the former Beatles into a singing hologram and plunges him into the video game ‘Destiny.’
  • Bob Dylan Shadows in the NightNew Dylan Album. 73 year-old Bob Dylan will release Shadows of the Night on February 3. You can pre-order it now on iTunes, and receive the song “Full Moon and Empty Arms”. The album is expected to be an album of cover songs, many of them recorded by Frank Sinatra. Go figure. Another song that is included on the album is “Stay with Me”. Dylan never fails to surprise. Here’s a live recording from October 26 of “Stay with Me”, another song from the album which Dylan has been closing his live sets with recently. Dylan commented, “It was a real privilege to make this album. I’ve wanted to do something like this for a long time but was never brave enough to approach 30-piece complicated arrangements and refine them down for a 5-piece band. That’s the key to all these performances. We knew these songs extremely well. It was all done live. Maybe one or two takes. No overdubbing. No vocal booths. No headphones. No separate tracking, and, for the most part, mixed as it was recorded. I don’t see myself as covering these songs in any way. They’ve been covered enough. Buried, as a matter a fact. What me and my band are basically doing is uncovering them. Lifting them out of the grave and bringing them into the light of day.”

Favorite Quotes of the Week ~ 12.15.2014

  • By definition, the big difference between mercy and justice is that mercy is never ever obligatory. -RC Sproul
  • Good people don’t go to Heaven, forgiven people do. -Lecrae
  • Grace does not make sin safe. But grace does make sinners safe. -Matt Chandler
  • Forgetfulness of God’s grace is one of the greatest tools in the enemy’s war against our souls. -Mark Dever
  • Christianity is not “Jesus is our example.” Christianity is “Jesus is our substitute.” – Tullian Tchividjian
  • The Christian is the most contented man in the world, but he is the least contented with the world. -C.H. Spurgeon
  • You pursue excellence when you care about something other than your own excellence. -Michael Horton
  • Are you living to justify yourself, or are you living because you are justified? -Tim Keller
  • When you look at the Cross, what do you see? You see God’s awesome faithfulness. -Sinclair Ferguson
  • When sin lets us alone we may let sin alone. -John Owen
  • The utter destruction of our culture isn’t just around the corner. It has been here for some time. -R.C. Sproul Jr.
  • What is the deepest root of your joy? What God gives to you? Or what God is to you? -John Piper
  •  We don’t merely need the money from work to survive. We need the work itself to survive and live fully human lives more than money. -Tim Keller
  • The cross is the place where the Judge takes the Judgment.Tim Keller
  • The desperate addict is closer to the heart of grace than the devout moralist. – Tullian Tchividjian
  • Jesus may ask of you far more than you planned to give, but He can give to you infinitely more than you dared ask or think. -Tim Keller

integrating faith and work

  • Everything you need to know about leadership in a single verse. Dave Kraft shares leadership principles from Exodus 32:34.
  • Characteristics of an Antiquated Leader. Ron Edmundson writes “Leadership principles and practices have had to change because organizations and people have changed.”
  • New Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast Episode. This month Andy continues to explore the idea of Keystone Habits through an interview conducted with Charles Duhigg.
  • 5 Surefire Ways to Sharpen Your Skills. John Maxwell provides five suggestions on how to sharpen our skills in a strength area. He also mentions his new book JumpStart Your Leadership, a 90-Day Improvement Plan, which releases on December 16.
  • Proactive. Check out what John Maxwell has to say about this word in this “Minute with Maxwell” video. http://johnmaxwellteam.com/proactive/
  • Interview with Joy, Inc. Author Richard Sheridan. He recently appeared on the EntreLeadership podcast. https://www.entreleadership.com/
  • Seven virtues of Christian managers: Lessons from Romans 12-16. Gregory F. Augustine Pierce writes “There are many Christian virtues that managers can practice. I define a Christian virtue as “a habit based on a long-standing belief that God is love.” Here are seven such virtues, with a quote for each from the Letter to the Romans as translated by Eugene Peterson in The Message.
  • The Fitting Job for You. An excellent devotion I recently read in Ligonier Ministries’ TableTalk Magazine.
  • Visiting with Mary and Martha: What about the work? Ann Boyd writes “Mary “chose the better part,” and I do appreciate that — but what about the work Martha was doing? Even after sitting with Jesus, the dishes are still there. How can we resolve this tension?”
  • When Hope is Gone. Dan Miller writes about a time a few years ago when he and his wife did a presentation at the Tennessee Prison for Women: “It gave me a new perspective on how easily we can complain about our “circumstances.” It also reminded me that often when fewer options are available, hope seems to be more present. Believing that all hope is gone is a personal choice. Circumstances do not dictate that – only we can choose to believe that.”
  • Serving a Generation in Search of Meaningful Work. Bethany Jenkins interviews Gregory W. Carmer, who among his other responsibilities directs the Christian Vocation Institute, a collection of programs, including the Elijah Project, which helps students explore the theological underpinnings and practical out-workings of vocation.
  • 7 Ways to Thrive with a Bad Boss. Dan Rockwell writes “If you don’t have a bad boss now, you’ll have one soon.” He gives us seven ways to thrive under that bad boss.
  • The heart behind “Why you hate work”. Brian Gray writes “Christians must embrace the biblical vision of work which claims that all work which is not sinful can be sacred. In God’s economy of spirituality, what we do is far less important than why we do it, how we do it, and who we are and are becoming as we engage our work.”
  • We Were Made to Work. Chris Armstrong writes “At the very beginning of Genesis, God shows himself as a working God, who creates valuable things. And then right away we see that we ourselves as made in his image, also to work.”

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

What's Best NextWhat’s Best Next Book Club

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

We continue with our overview of this new book on productivity from a Christian perspective. This week we conclude the book.

God at WorkGod at Work Book Club

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

When we visited St. Andrews Chapel where R.C. Sproul is one of the pastors, this book was the church’s “Book of the Month”. I’m excited to read it. We’ll look at a chapter each week – won’t you read along with us? This week we cover Chapter 7: Your Calling as a Citizen.

Linus


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Time is Ticking Away ~ Two Weeks Until Christmas!

Best of 2014

I’ll publish my list of favorites from 2014 in a number of categories the first week of January. I’d love to publish yours as well. So just send your favorites in the following categories to us at bntpence@msn.com by the end of the year.

  • Books
  • Music – albums and individual songs
  • Movies – your best and worst
  • Podcasts
  • Television programs
  • Concerts
  • Radio station
  • Blogger

~ UPDATED PAGES ON THE BLOG ~

Book Reviews:The Dawning of Indestructible Joy

Music Review: Peter Furler Christmas Featuring David IanPeter Furler Christmas

I’m Currently Reading

~ THIS AND THAT ~

 BOOKS:

The Pilgrim’s Progress (New Edition). Jonathan Parnell of Desiring God writes “Desiring God is excited to release a new edition of The Pilgrim’s Progress, free of charge in three digital formats (PDF, EPUB, MOBI). This new edition is the original first part of Bunyan’s classic, unabridged and redesigned in beautiful typesetting for modern readability. This edition also features a foreword by Leland Ryken, who kindly offered counsel to us since the beginning of this project, and a short biography of Bunyan’s life by John Piper. The preface to this edition was written by John Newton in 1776 to introduce an old version of the book that included his annotations. This preface was discovered by Tony Reinke, biographer of Newton, and is included now in print for the first time in over a century.”

MOVIES:

First Trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The film will be in theatres December 18, 2015.

Next James Bond Film Announced. Daniel Craig will play 007 for the fourth time in Spectre, to be released October, 2015.

MUSIC:

New McCartney SongDid you see Carrie Underwood’s incredible performance of “All is Well” with Michael W. Smith on the CMA Country Christmas special recently?

New McCartney Song. “Hope for the Future”, which Paul McCartney wrote for the record-breaking video game “Destiny”, will be released globally on December 8.

Michael W. Smith surprised Fort Campbell Staff Sergeant Rafael Panduro at a Clarksville Cracker Barrel.

New Short Film, From The Village to The Basement Introduces Bob Dylan’s The Basement Tapes through a Time-lapse Road Trip narrated by Jeff Bridges. Available exclusively on Bob Dylan’s Official Facebook Page and BobDylan.com From The Village to The Basement compresses more than 12,000 photographs into an extended time-lapse tracking shot, opening on the sidewalk in front of the Washington Square Hotel in Greenwich Village, moving northward through upstate New York, and finally pulling into the driveway of Big Pink, where The Basement Tapes were famously recorded in 1967. Following the route traveled by Dylan and The Band from Manhattan to the West Saugerties on their way to Big Pink, From The Village to The Basement is a virtual road trip with narrator Jeff Bridges serving as tour guide, recounting the history and mystery of The Basement Tapes, their influence on American music and the bootleg culture these recordings launched.

U2’s Songs of Innocence Tops Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of Top Albums of 2014. High Hopes by Bruce Springsteen was number two on the list.

The 2015 Grammy Award nominations in 83 categories were announced recently http://www.grammy.com/nominees. Congratulations to these artists for their nominations:

  • Best Rock Album – Songs of Innocence – U2
  • Best Rap Performance – “All I Need is You” – Lecrae
  • Best Country Solo Performance – “Something in the Water” – Carrie Underwood
  • Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song – “Messengers” – Lecrae featuring King & Country
  • Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song – “Come as Your Are” – Crowder
  • Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song – “Multiplied” – NEEDTOBREATHE
  • Best American Roots Song – “Terms of My Surrender” – John Hiatt
  • Best Americana Album – Terms of My Surrender – John Hiatt
  • Best Comedy Album – Obsessed – Jim Gaffigan

Check out Gawvi’s remixes of Trip Lee’s “Lazarus” and “Sweet Victory” http://www.gawvi.com/remix-tracks/ and also this dance video to Trip Lee’s “Manola” from Keone Madrid.

Lecrae hosts “Hope for the City” event in St. Louis December 13. He will be joined by Derek Minor, Propopaganda, J.R. , Flame and Thi’sl.Hope for the City Flyer

Powerful New Trip Lee Song Inspired by recent events. Listen to “Coulda Been Me” here (http://builttobrag.com/coulda-been-me/)  and see the lyrics to the song below:
Don’t nobody wanna hear our pain
That’s how I’m feeling when I’m flipping through them twitter comments, all I feel is rain
They telling me get over it’s old
That stuff don’t exist no more
But that don’t ring true when I look in these streets
So it’s real when I feel like it coulda been me

Man can I tell you how I’m feeling right nowTrip Lee Song
Ah they wanna know how I’m feeling right now
I feel like it coulda been me
I feel like it coulda been me
We all made in God’s image you know
All our lives matter, our vision is broke
We feel pain cause we been here before
Who’s innocent I don’t know
But it coulda been me
I feel like it coulda been me

I didn’t know Mike Brown
I ain’t know Trayvon
I didn’t know Sean Bell
But I know they gone
I ain’t know Oscar Grant or Tamir Rice
I didn’t know Eric Garner
But I know they life
Is worth more than they saying on the tv screen
I hate I got a long list, you finna see me scream
Cause I feel like they don’t see we kings
Made to rule like Him, they think we needy fiends
I wasn’t there when they shot at the man
I can’t solve cases, won’t say that I can
But I do know life as a young black man
Guess I can’t be mad that some don’t understand
But maybe you would
If you looked at my life and you stood where I stood
Use my eyes to look at these streets
It’s too real when I feel like it coulda been me

Man can I tell you how I’m feeling right now
Ah they wanna know how I’m feeling right now
I feel like it coulda been me
I feel like it coulda been me

Picture me as a teen
Picking out drinks in the store when I seen
The cashier looking at me, then he screams
Points at my hip and tells me I’m seen
But hold up, I ain’t know that I was that scary
And I ain’t know that I could shoot you with a blackberry
Very odd, that he saw me as a thug
When I’d never caught a case, never stole or bought drugs
Or how bout the time that I flew to a show
Full of joy, finna rap for a room full of folks
Outside then I find it’s a gun in my face
Handcuffs on my hands, pat down at the waist
It’s the same ol, same ol
I fit the description of a criminal that they know
They showed me picture, come on
Are you kidding? We don’t look a like
Well the cops thought we did if you looking right
Every black man I know
Got stories like those, reaping what they ain’t sow
When they assume you a thug from the jump
It don’t matter if you strapped with a pump
Look I don’t know if Mike Brown had his hands up
But I’m writing saying homie I’ma stand up
And I’ma tell you I feel I look in these streets
And say it’s real when I feel like it coulda been me

Skies feeling grey, eyes red
Black and white clash, clouds over head
How long till they heard what we said
How long till they hear what I said?
Shout out to all the good cops
Fighting bad guys, making good stops
I hate that on the hood blocks
In the end they might try to lump you in with all the crooks
I wanna say to all my young black men
I know it’s feeling like we just can’t win
But in your anger don’t sin
Don’t affirm what they thinking
Don’t let nobody tell us we ain’t got worth
Some will try to shut us down it will not work
I know it ain’t fair, but we know that He cares
And one day he’ll wipe away tears

Where’s your hope at? Mine is in him
Where is your hope at? Mine is in him
We got work to do, but my hope is in him
They got work to do too, but my hope is in him

IN THE NEWS:Derrick Rose

Chicago Bulls superstar Derrick Rose wore an “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirt in warm-up before the Bulls Game with the Warriors on Saturday in Chicago.

I Can’t Breathe, But I Must Write. David Murray’s take on the Eric Garner decision.

A United Evangelical Response: The System Failed Eric Garner. What pastors, professors, and others are saying about the grand jury’s decision not to indict.

A Conversation with Lecrae, Voddie, and Others on Ferguson. Watch this conversation with Lecrae, Voddie Baucham, Phillip Holmes, James White, and B.J. Thompson on Ferguson, the gospel, the church, and the culture.

This cartoon from World Magazine resonated with me this week.

Courtesy of World Magazine

Courtesy of World Magazine

What ever happened to Rob Bell? Sarah Pulliam Bailey brings us up to date with Rob Bell, who eight years ago the Chicago Sun-Times wondered might be the next Billy Graham.

Brian Williams’ Slow Jam. Did you see Brian Williams join Jimmy Fallon and the Roots on The Tonight Show for a Slow Jam on President Obama’s recent Executive Order on Immigration?

Curt Schilling, ESPN’s Law, and evolution. Interesting story about the response to a tweet of former major league baseball player and believer Curt Schilling.

THEOLOGY AND CHRISTIAN LIVING:

A Prayer for Filling Our Hearts with Jesus–the Lord of Advent. Scotty Smith prays: “Dear Lord Jesus, knowing that it’s possible to “do Christmas” and miss Advent, today I want to fill my heart, as full as possible, with you. You are the One who has come and is coming again. Isaiah’s words fuel my worship and shrink my worries.”

Take a Break from the Chaos. David Mathis of Desiring God writes: You need a break from the chaos, from the noise and the crowds, more than you may think at first. You need the spiritual disciplines of silence and solitude.”

Four Impulses at the Heart of Desiring God. John Piper marvels at the existence of Desiring God ministries, now 20 years old.

Joy Is Free, But Not Cheap. Enjoy this three-minute video from John Piper on what the Desiring God ministry offers free, and encouraging people to partner with the ministry.

James White’s response to Rick Warren’s troubling comments about Roman Catholicism.

The State of Theology: The Good Book. Stephen Nichols continues his analysis of a recent major study on theology in America, this time looking at the Bible. He writes “American Christians have Bibles. We tend to have even more than 4.7 (the number per household). Do we read them? Do we cling to our Bibles as the authoritative and true Word of God to us? Do we obey and follow what we read? The answers to these questions make all the difference in the world.

5 Ugly Qualities of the Anti-Elder. As an Elder in my church, I found this article from Tim Challies of great interest

The Practice of Putting Sin to Death. Tim Challies continues his excellent series on John Owens’ book Overcoming Sin and Temptation. He writes that Owens’ has only two broad instructions: Put your faith in Christ, and rely on the power of the Holy Spirit.

When Do You Leave a Church? Jeff Robinson writes “There are certainly legitimate reasons to leave a church and sadly, it sometimes becomes necessary or even a duty to find a more biblically faithful body.”

Why the Church Needs a New Approach for Addressing Homosexuality. Eric Metaxas writes “Sixty percent of all Americans now live in a state in which marriage has been redefined to allow same-sex couples to “marry.” So should Christians give up, go home, and move on to another issue?  Absolutely not. While the public policy issue may be largely settled, the matter of how the church should interact with gays—especially gay Christians—is far from settled. And on that subject, one Christian leader says we have a lot of repair work to do.”

Two Enemies of Determination. Darrin Patrick writes “In Jesus, we have the model of a determined man. He pressed on in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. He resisted comfort and approval, knowing what was at stake in his failure. He endured great suffering and shame because he had a greater joy.”

Think the “Emergent Church” was Ineffective? Think again. Chelsen Vicar writes “Brian McLaren is right. The “emergent church” movement is growing. Not as a collective group, but as a savvy, scattered chain ever-present in the fiber of the Church.

The Importance of Hell. Tim Keller offers four reasons in this article.

The frightening side of Advent: Bonhoeffer’s Christmas sermons. Jeff K. Walters shares observations from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Christmas Sermons, preached between 1928 and his death in 1945.

Christmas Poem

My good friend Aaron, who works where I do and is also a local pastor, has written a Christmas poem for several years. Here’s his poem for this year:

JOYOUS

Joy unto us the angels did sing

Joy unto us our savior was born king

Joy unto us a gift was given

Joy unto us a tree was slain

Joy unto us on the tree – our Lord and savior hang

Joy unto us the angel did say – he is Risen no longer he lay

Joy unto us the message must ring on and on

Joy unto you this Christmas season for only Jesus is our reason to have hope and holiday cheer

LUKE 2: 1 – 20

Visions of VocationVisions of Vocation Book Club

Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good by Steven Garber.

Steve Garber was the speaker at my Covenant Seminary graduation in May. Tammy and I have been reading his book Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good. This week we look at chapter 7 The Great Temptations.

  • It is surprising that the promise of more knowledge—to know as God knows, in the words of the tempter—had the bitter fruit of anguish and shame.
  • From that first temptation on, human beings have responded in countless ways to the same question: What will you do with what you know? Or to put it another way, Knowing what you know, how will you respond?
  • We do not want knowing to necessarily mean caring. Not because we are morally misanthropic, but simply because the one who knows the most mourns the deepest. More knowledge often means more pain.
  • Both offer a way to know that allow us to keep our eyes open, seeing things as they “really” are, but not requiring that we get so close that we are hurt by what we know. We have called these responses stoicism and cynicism. Both are ways to know that do not ask us to get too close to what we know; they allow us to protect ourselves from knowing too much, and therefore from caring too much.
  • While I understand that there are horrors and heartaches that are beyond what anyone wants or imagines, it does not make a good life to think that we can have knowledge without responsibility, that we can know but not have to care.
  • While there are honest joys every day, if one has eyes to see, there are also honest sorrows too, if one has eyes to see. What we do with the two realities is what distinguishes us, and is what is distinctive about different religious visions.
  • Every account of human life, from varieties of theism to varieties of pantheism to varieties of materialism, has a vision of the human person at its heart—what is often called a telos. We believe certain things to be true of us as individuals, and true of human beings, and we live in that light. But we do not only live in that light, we theorize and imagine in that light as well. We develop economic and political visions, and we create artistic artifacts—sculpture, paintings, novels, poetry, music, theater and film—that resonate with what we believe to be true of human beings, in light of the telos that shapes our understanding of what is real and true and right.
  • We know pathos, empathy, sympathy, passion and compassion, for example. Each of those words grows out of some effort to make sense of life, of a life where things are often not as they are supposed to be, where in fact there is disappointment, heartbreak and injustice. Knowing the world to be this way, knowing our experience to be this way, what will we do? How will we respond?
  • Knowing that does not require one to respond. One knows, but does not have to step in. One knows, but does not have to be implicated. It is important to note that Stoicism is not malicious with its intentional indifference, but its willingness to look away at critical points is a problem for a good life and a good society.
  • The great Hebrew scholar Abraham Heschel, in his magisterial study The Prophets, argues that the prophetic tradition as a whole was a response to the stoicism of their time, whether that was formally taught and debated, or was more street-level assumptions by ordinary people living ordinary lives.
  • God hears and responds to what he hears, that he sees and acts on what he sees. Not an unmoved mover, but the one who knows and who feels what he knows.
  • Another twentieth-century scholar, Benjamin B. Warfield of Princeton, intriguingly argues that the Gospels were a response to the stoicism of their time.
  • Jesus’ response to the death of his friend was a million miles from the Stoic apatheia.
  • Again, if there has not been an incarnation, a moment in human history when God shows that we can know and still love, then stoicism seems a very good answer to a very hard question: Knowing the hurt of life, what are you going to do?
  • Living in Washington, D.C., for many years now, I have come to the conclusion that while the world at large may criticize the city for its hubris, “the Beltway mentality” and all, the reality is that the city is cynical.
  • But the question which was first asked in the Garden, primordial and perennial as it was, is asked again of everyone who comes to town: Knowing what you know, what are you going to do?
  • One of the best chroniclers of contemporary geo-politics is the British novelist John Le Carré. Le Carré is a master story-teller, seeing the evil of the human heart played out in public and political arenas—and he expects his readers to come to the same conclusion that he has. In a word, he is a cynic—about individuals and institutions, about persons and polities, about anyone and anything that has to do with power and money. And why not? There many good reasons to be cynical.
  • “Life is good,” the T-shirts promise, and we buy them by the truckload. Well, sometimes in some places, but not very often in the massive ghettoes of Nairobi, which is where Le Carré takes us in The Constant Gardner.
  • But there are exceptions. And it is here that Le Carré’s cynicism is more a protection of his heart than a truthful account of the heart. Whether conscious or not, intentional or not, the temptation to cynicism is always a way of keeping one’s heart from being wounded, again.
  • There is much to be cynical about—and it is a good answer if there has not been an incarnation. But if that has happened, if the Word did become flesh, and if there are men and women who in and through their own vocations imitate the vocation of God, then sometimes and in some places the world becomes something more like the way it ought to be.
  • Over twenty years ago, Mark Rodgers and I decided to be neighbors, remembering the credo of the Clapham community in London two hundred years ago: “Choose a neighbor before you choose a house.”
  • There is nothing romantic about trying to do the right thing and feeling the indifference of those you work and live with.
  • Can we know the world and still love the world? Can we know the messes of the world and still work on them because we want to, because we see ourselves as responsible, for love’s sake? Sometimes some people make that choice, like Mark has, and always it is a vocation in imitation of a vocation.
  • At our best and truest, we stand in the long line of those who remember the profound insight of Thomas à Kempis in calling us to “the imitation of Christ.” To choose to know, and still love, is costly; it was for God, and it is for us. In fact it is the most difficult task imaginable.
  • God knows us and still loves us. That is the heart of the incarnation, and not surprisingly the heart of J. I. Packer’s contemporary classic, Knowing God. His vision has shaped my vision, not only of God, but of life.
  • The incarnation is not a call to life in rose gardens, somehow closing our eyes to the terrors of this very wounded world.
  • Strange grace that it is, sometimes people decide that their vocations are in fact to know the world and still love the world; in fact, sometimes there are people who know the worst about the world and still love it. Truth be told, mostly those people are unnoticed in this life. At the end of the day, we are ordinary people in ordinary places. The wisest ones have always known this, reminding us of this deeper, truer truth.
  • And while we may not be weighed down with the questions What will I do today to stay free from stoicism? How will I steer clear of cynicism today? the reality is that if we are to keep our commitments, sticking with what we believe is important, we will have to have reasons that make sense of vocations that implicate us in the histories and complexities of our communities and societies. To see ourselves as responsible, for love’s sake, is both hard work and good work—and it cannot be done alone.
  • Stretched taut between the Last Supper and the Great Supper—with an invitation from Jesus to eat together week by week until he comes again—our Vocares always involve a meal.
  • Simply, he sees his work as imitating the incarnation; knowing the way banking more often than not is, he works for what can be because he believes in what ought to be.
  • Why get involved? It is one thing to know about messes, but it is something else altogether to step into a mess. It is one thing to know about things being wrong, but it is something else altogether to decide that I am responsible to make it right.
  • Knowing what I know, what will I do? There are people who see themselves implicated in the way the world is and ought to be. For love’s sake, they see themselves as responsible for the way the world turns out. Sometimes they are bankers, and sometimes they make hamburgers. But always and everywhere, they are people who have vocations in imitation of the vocation of God: knowing the worst about the world, and still loving the world. They are people who learn to live in the tension of life, living with what is and longing for what will be—keeping clear of the great temptations, for the sake of the world. Simply said, they become hints of hope.

Favorite Quotes of the Week ~ 12.8.2014

  • If you say: I believed in God, I trusted God, and He didn’t come through – You only trusted God to meet your agenda. -Tim Keller
  • If you have only been born once you will die twice, but if you are born twice you will only die once. -Steven Lawson
  • By God’s grace, seek to make your home the most encouraging place your family knows. -Scotty Smith
  • We fall privately before we ever fall publicly. -RC Sproul
  • The gospel is not about what we have done or are called to do, but the announcement of God’s saving work in Jesus Christ. -Michael Horton
  • Great sins draw out great grace. Where guilt is most terrible and fierce, the mercy of God appears most high and mighty. -John Bunyan
  • If you make the goal of your life just to stay alive, you’ll fail. If you make the goal of your life the kingdom, you cannot lose. -Kevin DeYoung
  • Fundamentally, Reformed theology is theology founded on and fashioned by God’s Word. For it is God’s Word that forms our theology, and it is we who are reformed by that theology as we constantly return to God’s Word every day and in every generation.Burk Parsons
  • The people who have taught me the most about grace are those who have blown it so bad that they know how much they need it. -Tullian Tchividjian
  • Come, thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free; from our fears and sins release us, let us find our rest in thee. -Charles Wesley
  • Just because we don’t see a reason why God allows evil and suffering doesn’t mean there isn’t one. Christmas is God going into the darkness for you. -Tim Keller

integrating faith and work

Martin Luther’s View on Why Clarity of Scripture Matters for Vocation. Andrew Spencer writes “Given the connection between the clarity of Scripture and a return of the doctrine of vocation, it should come as no surprise that the development of the sacred/secular divide in vocation began with a drift in the understanding of the ability for all people to interpret Scripture.”

Non-Negotiables in Team Members. Dave Kraft shares seven non-negotiables he looks for.

The Basics of a Biblical Theology of Work. Enjoy this excerpt from Amy Sherman’s excellent book Kingdom Calling: Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good, which I read in my Calling, Vocation and Work class at Covenant Seminary.

Garbage Collecting for the Glory of God. Joseph Sunde writes “In a new video from The High Calling1, Howard Butt, Jr. shares the story of David Magallenez, a garbage man who daily serves the people of San Antonio by removing their trash, and does so with a happy heart.”

What are You Hiding at Work? Jen Sanbulte writes “We’ve all done it. We’ve gone to work and put on the mask, afraid to be at work who we are in Church on Sunday. We hesitate to give people glimpses into our real life and emotions, because it is messy. Instead, we hide. God called us to be light, but many have a hard time figuring out what that looks like at work. And if we’re honest, we all want to be viewed as professional, as good workers, as normal.”

Why are Working Women Starting to Unplug from Their Churches? Sandra Crawford Williamson shares four reasons that are given as to why working women are choosing to stay home from church.

How Your Own Jealousy Can Keep You from Progress. In this podcast, Andy Andrews talks about selfishness, and how it can keep you and everyone around you from growing.

Your work is not as important as you want it to be: Called by Mark Labberton. Marcus Goodyear writes “This little book calls the entire faith and work movement to task, reminding Christians to focus on the First Thing. My career, my success, and my productivity are not elements of my primary calling. A Christian’s calling is not a personal one, but a shared calling with other Christians to something very simple and straightforward: love God and love your neighbor.”

Four Ways Leaders Can Release Control, and Ultimately Thrive. Cole NeSmith shares four ways leaders can release control, and become the leaders we are created to be.

4 Leadership Lessons from a King Who Finished Poorly. One of our favorite bloggers Kevin Halloran writes that “Unfortunately, we don’t have to look far to see failure in leadership. All leaders need to know what God wants them to do and NOT do.” He states that “Like many kings mentioned in the Bible Jehu is a mixed bag. I don’t want to leave a legacy like that. Here are a few lessons I gleaned from Jehu:”

Vocation and Jobs.  Dr. Frederick W. Schmidt, Jr. “Look for the vocation that is deeply rooted in your life, the way of being that expresses God’s calling on your life.  Whatever happens, you are God’s gift to the world in the making.  No job can give you that.  No job can take it away.”

Reconciling the Call to be Productive with the Messiness of Life. Matt Perman writes “One of the difficulties in affirming that God calls us to be productive is that this can sometimes be mistaken to mean that there is always an easy solution to our productivity challenges. We can think that there is no place for messiness, difficulty, and even falling behind in the life of truly productive, God-honoring people.”

10 Commandments that Fix All Lousy Meetings. Poorly run meetings are one of my pet-peeves. I appreciated this article from Dan Rockwell.

When You Are in Between Jobs. Luke Murry writes “How we handle unemployment ourselves and how we counsel others going through unemployment are both excellent opportunities to bring glory to God’s name.”

New Faith and Work Study Bible. The Bible: Faith and Work Edition will be a unique and engaging combination of doctrine, application, and community that can find its home not only on your nightstand at home, but also on your desktop at work. Its goal is to equip Christians to meaningfully engage various aspects of their work—even those we might not even think could be relevant—with a renewed sense of the power and relevance of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Secrets Of The Most Productive People. Fast Company article in which as senator, a chef, four CEOs, and DJ superstar Diplo reveal how, exactly, they get the most out of their days.

Do Hard Things ~ Matt Perman shares a post from Alex and Brett Harris.

Season of Ministry. A good reminder to be open for opportunities to minister to others we lead during this Christmas season:

‘God’s Will and Your Vocation’, an excellent devotion I recently read in Ligonier Ministries’ TableTalk Magazine.

Where Does Our Time at Work Go? Sue Shellenbarger writes “The causes of overload have long been suspected—email and meetings—but new techniques that analyze employees’ email headers and online calendars are helping employers pinpoint exactly which work groups impose the most on employees’ time.”

The Value of Leadership Fears. Glenn Brooke writes “All leaders face fears and suffer trials. There is a grander purpose at work.”

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

God at WorkGod at Work Book Club

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

When we recently visited St. Andrews Chapel where R.C. Sproul is one of the pastors, this book was the church’s “Book of the Month”. I’m excited to read it. We’ll look at a chapter each week – won’t you read along with us? This week we cover Chapter 6: Your Calling in the Family.

What's Best NextWhat’s Best Next Book Club

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

We continue our overview of this excellent new book on productivity from a Christian perspective. This week we look at Chapter 24: The Greatest Cause in the World Productivity, world missions, and how our faith relates to our work.

Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael

Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael


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Coram Deo 11.18.14

Courtesy of Christianity Today

Courtesy of Christianity Today

~ THIS AND THAT ~

IN THE NEWS:

U2 will not be on The Tonight Show this week. The band announced on their website “It looks like we will have to do our Tonight Show residency another time – we’re one man down. Bono has injured his arm in a cycling spill in Central Park and requires some surgery to repair it. We’re sure he’ll make a full recovery soon, so we’ll be back! Much thanks to Jimmy Fallon and everyone at the show for their understanding.”

Taveras and the Avoidable Tragedy. Bernie Miklasz of the St. Lous Post Dispatch writes about the death of St. Louis Cardinal right fielder Oscar Taveras after hearing the news that Taveras was drunk when he crashed his car killing himself and his girlfriend.

A Muckraking Magazine Creates a Stir Among Evangelical Christians. The New York Times writes an article on World Magazine.

Moody’s Founder’s Week, February 2-6, 2015. Speakers include Voddie Baucham and Erwin Lutzer. Musicians include Sara Groves and Rend Collective.

Voddie Baucham announces that he is leaving his church to be president of African Christian University. Read his announcement to his church.

CHRISTIAN LIVING:

Sexual Orientation and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Dr. Albert Mohler writes “As I explained in my address, I had previously denied the existence of sexual orientation. I, along with many other evangelicals, did so because we did not want to accept the sexual identity structure that so often goes with sexual orientation. I still reject that notion of sexual identity. But I repented of denying the existence of sexual orientation because denying it was deeply confusing to people struggling with same-sex attraction.”

On Purity and Homosexuality. Randy Alcorn writes “Two weeks ago our EPM staff member Julia Stager posted her first video on my blog: “Superheroes, Heresies and the God-man.” We got a terrific response from this video, and those still coming will be every bit as good! Our plan is to highlight another of Julia’s videos every other week. Julia’s featured video today is on the critical topic of purity and homosexuality.”

Not That Kind of Homosexuality? Kevin DeYoung writesThere is simply no positive case for homosexual practice in the Bible and no historical background that will allow us to set aside what has been the plain reading of Scripture for twenty centuries. The only way to think the Bible is talking about every other kind of homosexuality except the kind our culture wants to affirm is to be less than honest with the texts or less than honest with ourselves.”

Hospitality, Sacrifice, and Delight in God. Good article from Jen Pollock Michel of Desiring God on hospitality.

Hurdles of Comparison and Perfectionism for Women. Matt Chandler answers questions in this episode of Ask TVC from his A Beautiful Design series.

12 Struggles Singles Face. David Murray writes “When we hear the word “single” we usually think of one kind of single – someone maybe 25-50 who has not married. But there are other kinds of singles: widows, single parents, divorcees, those who suffer with same-sex attraction, and even those who are in loveless marriages – perhaps the most painful singleness of all. But for all singles, there are twelve struggles that must be faced at different stages and to different degrees”.

John Piper and Mark Driscoll: Lessons Not Learned? A thought-provoking article from Dan Phillips.

Francis Chan Asks “Are You Walking with God?” Janet Denison writes that was Francis Chan’s message for a group of Christian leaders in Dallas recently.

Barbershop Grief ~ This post from Thabiti Anyabwile has three points: He is full of grief. He is so tired of guns. He wants Jesus to come quickly.

Six Truths about Sickness. Brian G. Najapfour writes “You will experience sickness at some point in your life. You might have a bad cold, fever, incurable disease, chronic ailment, or terminal illness like cancer. And since sickness is a part of our existence, understanding it properly is of great importance. Therefore, in this post we will examine what the Bible teaches about illness.”

What Does “Amen” Mean? R. C. Sproul writes that Jesus says “amen” to indicate truth; we say it to receive that truth and to submit to it.

John Macarthur On Helps And Hindrances To Joy. In a sermon on Rejoice Always (1 Thess. 5:16), John Macarthur listed eight sources of joy and then six thieves of joy. David Murray summarizes them for us. John MacArthur Answers Questions Via Twitter. Recently, John MacArthur dusted his Twitter account off, and opened it up for business. Part of that was hosting a Q&A session in real time.

The State of Theology: The Taming of God. Stephen Nichols continues his analysis of the recent “State of Theology” survey that Ligonier Ministries commissioned He states “One of the things the survey reveals is a significant confusion and disconnect when it comes to thinking about God.”

Lay Aside the Weight of “I’ll Never Change” by Jon Bloom. He writes “We all must come to terms with the way we are. But there are two ways we must do this. The first is to cultivate contentment with who God designed us to be, which results in a wonderful liberation from trying to be someone we’re not. The second is to lay aside the burdensome weight of the fatalistic resignation that we’ll never be any different than what we are, which results in an enslavement to our sin-infused predilections.”

The Seven Deadly Sins in a Digital Age: An Introduction. A helpful new series by W. Bradford Littlejohn. Check out the following article in the series on lust.

9 Steps to Putting That Sin to Death. Tim Challies continues his series on John Owen’s classic book Overcoming Sin and Temptation.

On the Wrong Side of History? Carson, Keller, and Piper Tackle a Common Objection. The wrong-side-of-history objection “presupposes a certain view of history, an inevitability of certain social trends that are going that way no matter what we do,” Don Carson explains in a new roundtable video with Tim Keller and John Piper. “But if we look at history another way—space and time are going to unravel as the Lord of history brings all things to pass—you bet I want to be on the right side of history.” As Keller puts it, “Since Jesus Christ is coming again, the only way to be on the right side of history is to belong to him.”

A Prayer for Not Being First. Scotty Smith offers a wonderful prayer for us to be convicted and freed from the ways we love to be first.

MOVIES AND MUSIC:

Back from Death’s Door: ‘Hoovey’ a Must See Movie. In this film, when 16-year-old “Hoovey” of Normal, Ill., collapses on the basketball court, doctors discover a life-threatening brain tumor that could derail all of his hopes and dreams. After high-risk surgery he must relearn life’s fundamentals: walking, reading, even seeing clearly.

World Magazine’s review of the acclaimed new film about Stephen Hawking entitled, “The Theory of Everything”.  

Matt Damon to return as Jason Bourne. Actor Matt Damon confirmed that he will return to the role of Jason Bourne in 2016 after stepping out of the spotlight for the fourth installment of the popular action series.

Lecrae Delivers ‘Dirty Water’ Lyrics for ’16 Bars’. Exclusive video from Boom Box.

BOOKS:

New Piper BookJohn Piper releases a new book of Advent devotionals. John Piper’s first Advent devotional book has been so well received these last two years that Desiring God has partnered with Crossway Books to produce a new set of meditations for this December: The Dawning of Indestructible Joy: Daily Readings for Advent. These 25 short readings begin December 1 and lead us into Christmas Day in hopes of keeping Jesus at the center of our season. The new book is now available for purchase in paperback and Kindle, as well as free of charge in PDF.

4 Benefits of Our Adoption. Sinclair Ferguson offers this excerpt from his new book The Trinitarian Devotion of John Owen. Look for a review in the coming weeks. I’m looking forward to reading this book!

Amazon Editors Pick their Top 100 Books of 2014. 

Amazon 2014 Best Books of the Year: The Top 100 in Print Format (NOTE: Lila: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson is at #87)

The Fallibility of the Foundling’s Savior: Marilynne Robinson’s Lila and Jonathan Edwards. John Piper writes “Pulitzer Prize winning novelist and essayist Marilynne Robinson writes fiction and non-fiction with complexity and narrative skill, because the thinkers who have moved her most deeply “did some justice to the complexity of things” and spoke of salvation as “a revolution of consciousness that opened on an overwhelming sense of the beautiful” — people like John Calvin and Jonathan Edwards. In other words, she’s complex, because reality is. And she pursues skilled craftsmanship, because reality is beautiful. She just published her fourth novel, Lila, and an essay about Jonathan Edwards in Humanities: Magazine of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Both publications carry a similar message about the unacceptability of hell, and the good effects of rejecting it, and the ultimate mystery — and wonder — of human life.

TO MAKE YOU CHUCKLE:

I enjoyed this recent tweet: “I hereby grant full amnesty to all Romulan ships entering the Neutral Zone.”

I enjoyed this recent tweet: “I hereby grant full amnesty to all Romulan ships entering the Neutral Zone.”

~ UPDATED PAGES ON THE BLOG ~Eric Metaxas book - Miracles

Book Review: Miracles: What They Are, Why They Happen, and How They Can Change Your Life by Eric Metaxas

I’m Currently Reading

~ QUOTES ~

    • Though sin often brings immediate pleasure, it gives no lasting joy. -R.C. Sproul
    • To believe the gospel is to stop giving God bit parts in our story, and to begin celebrating our place in His story. -Scotty Smith
    • If Jesus rose from the dead you have to accept all He said; if he didn’t then why worry about any of what he said? -Tim Keller
    • Live like someone died for you. -Lecrae

Doug Michael Cartoon
Faith-and-Work
Quotable

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.

And so it is with you… we are in charge of our Attitudes. -Chuck Swindoll Faith and Work

Integrating Faith and Work:  Connecting Sunday to Monday

Your Relationships Play an Essential Role in Biblical Flourishing. Hugh Welchel writes that God designed humans to have four types of healthy relationships, all of which were broken at the Fall.

The Price and Payoff of Leadership. Dave Kraft writes “So fellow leader. Hang in there. Don’t quit because of the price. He (Jesus) didn’t quit when the price was high!

A Christian Tightrope Walker? David Murray writes “Is tightrope-walking a legitimate Christian vocation? Does repeatedly mentioning God sanctify whatever job we do? Or are there certain vocations that Christians should not pursue? If so, are there biblical guidelines for helping us to decide which jobs are legitimate for a Christian? I believe there are four such guidelines, and I’d like to measure Wallenda’s chosen vocation against them.”

Elisha: Give Your Best Wherever God Puts You. John Maxwell writes “If you are willing to do small things in the service of God, and do them with excellence, God will give you opportunities to do bigger things for Him when you are ready.”

My Three Seasons of Faith and Work: How farmers, scientists, teachers, doctors, and a furnace repair man taught Matt Woodley to see all callings as holy.

Don’t Waste Your Two Most Productive Hours. ‘Each morning we get a brief window of time during which we’re most mentally capable of getting stuff done’ said behavioral scientist Dan Ariely in a recent Ask Me Anything on Reddit. And yet most of us waste that time.

Did I Waste My Most Productive Hours? Aimee Byrd writes “The article (referenced above), reports on the statement by behavioral scientist Dan Ariely that our two most potentially productive hours are the two hours after we are fully awake. This is when we supposedly have the best mental capacity to get things done. The first thing I wonder is what qualifies as “fully awake”?

The Five Components of Effective Delegation. Matt Perman writes “How do you delegate in a way that gets the tasks done and builds people up in the process? You do this by communicating five things.”

6 Strategies to Sleep Soundly, Wake Rested, and Accomplish More. Michael Hyatt shares six strategies for getting more and better sleep starting tonight.

The Heart of Our Message. Bob Chapman writes “When you focus on people as people, instead of just ‘head count,’ it makes a difference. Not just in your business, but in a very real way in people’s everyday lives.”

Is Career Success a Zero Sum Game? Dr. David Leonard, in writing about the film Nightcrawler, states: “But the film also reminded me of a helpful lesson about work and relationships that is essential for Christians to grasp: your colleagues are not your competition; nor are your clients disposable contributors to your bottom line. They are people of value, within your sphere of influence, whom you have the opportunity to serve.”

Don’t Bother With Goals…..Unless. In this “Tuesday Tip”, Dr. Alan Zimmerman looks at a few of the smaller but nonetheless important strategies you can use to move you along the path of becoming a success.”

Calling: A Biblical Perspective – Free E-Book. Calling, or vocation, is the single most popular topic in the theology of work. When people ponder how their faith relates to their work, their first question is often, “What kind of work is God calling me to?”

Work for God: Called Out of the Ministry. Will Ratliff writes “God cares infinitely more about my character than my career choices. This seems to be a recurring life lesson for me.”

Most of the Work of Ministry Is Done by Christians Who Work Secular Jobs. Jon Bloom writes “Most Christians struggle at some point with the sense that ministry jobs are just more sacred than other jobs. You can see this reflected in our terminology: we tend to call non-ministry jobs “secular jobs.” It can be hard not to see them as “unspiritual” or “less spiritual” jobs.  But God draws no such distinctions.”

How To Get Things Done: Taming the Email Beast. Tim Challies continues with his series on productivity.

Why Everything Is Awesome When You’re Leading a Team. Michael Hyatt writes “The benefits of a team are probably endless. But depending on the type of team you want to build, here are four new possibilities for your business.”

What Manufacturing Teaches Us about the Dignity of Work. Dr. Anne Bradley writes that all work is valuable. “We were designed to reflect the creativity of the One who designed and brought us into being. We need to be proactive about affirming the dignity of others in their work, just as we need to possess a balanced, honest understanding of our own value in society and to our God.”

What is a Good Job? Hugh Whelchel writes: “A good job is one where God allows us to bring purpose and meaning into the work he has called us to do, understanding there is inherent value in that work itself because it is important to God. This is true whether we are a dishwasher or a CEO, a stay-at-home mom, or the pastor of a mega church.”

Being a Strong Leader without Being an Abusive Leader. Dave Kraft writes “Strong leadership doesn’t have to become abusive and arrogant; but, sadly, that’s what sometimes occurs. Let’s all strive for, and grow in, strong and humble leadership.”

The Surprising Key that Opens the Gift of Work. We will work better, smarter and more productively if we make time for rest. Rest is the key that opens the gift of work.

Matthew through Acts – Theology of Work Bible Commentary, volume 4 Published. On October 24, 2014, the Theology of Work Bible Commentary (Volume 4: Matthew-Acts) was released in print for the first time. The entire commentary is currently available for free at www.theologyofwork.org

 Quotes:

Our prayers are included among God’s providential plan for the destiny of His world. -R.C. Sproul

When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die. -Dietrich Bonhoeffer (from The Cost of Discipleship)

 Success isn’t what you did compared to others. It’s what you did compared to what you were supposed to do. -Lecrae

 Everybody you see and talk to today is dealing with something hard that you can’t see. Everyone needs grace from everyone. -Tullian Tchividjian

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

What’s Best Next Book Club

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

We continue with our overview of this new book on productivity from a Christian perspective. This week we look at Chapter 22: Daily Execution.

 

God at Work Book Club

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

When we recently visited St. Andrews Chapel where R.C. Sproul is one of the pastors, this book was the church’s “Book of the Month”. I’m excited to read it. We’ll look at a chapter each week – won’t you read along with us? This week we cover Chapter 4: Finding Your Vocations

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When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul. -From “It is Well” written by Horatio G. Spafford


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Integrating Faith and Work: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and WorkGood Leaders Ask Great Questions by John Maxwell

Book Review: Good Leaders Ask Great Questions: Your Foundation to Successful Leadership by John C. Maxwell

TRENDING TOPICS:

Should you do what you love, or love what you’re doing?

Can Work Ever Be Good News? Here is the beginning of a series of ten posts featuring artwork from the Christians in the Visual Arts exhibit, “Work: Curse or Calling?

Three Points about Common Grace Every Businessperson Should Consider. Dr. Vincent Bacote looks at the relationship between common grace and business that was addressed Calvin College Business Department and the Acton Institute co-sponsored the Symposium on Common Grace and Business.

Yes, You Do Know Your “Calling”. Dan Miller addresses the subject of calling and includes a 48-minute audio on “Is Your Job Your Calling?”

On this “Minute with Maxwell”, John Maxwell discusses the word ‘contentment’.

Only the Gospel, Not Our Vocations Can Truly Change Us. In this excerpt from his book Work Matters: Connecting Sunday Worship to Monday Work, Tom Nelson writes “Hard work, however noble, without a relationship with the Father proves empty, meaningless, and despairing.”

ReFrame has launched! ReFrame is a 10 week video-based discipleship course that helps you answer questions such as “how does my story fit into God’s story?” and “does my day-to-day life matter to God?”  It features lectures by Regent College faculty, interviews with prominent Christian thought-leaders, and stories of everyday Christians asking questions about how the Gospel reframes their lives.

Work is a glorious thing. John Piper writes “Come, leave off sloth and idleness. Become what you were made to be. Work.”

Why Most Web-Sites Are Hard To Use – And What To Do About It. Matt Heerema writes that most web-sites are unnecessarily difficult to use, and there is one core reason for this.

The Seven Qualities of Perfect Teammates. Dan Rockwell writes “Everyone is irritating. They either do things that bug you, or, they leave something undone, and that bugs you. What does a perfect teammate look like?”

What’s in It for Me? What motivates your leadership choices? A desire to succeed, a need for human applause, or a desire for God’s approval?

John Maxwell BookJohn Maxwell writes leadership lessons from the great prophet Elijah from his upcoming book Learning from the Giants.

Eight Ways to Honor Your Leaders. Brad Lomenick writes that “Leading is not easy. And it’s even more difficult if those on your team aren’t equipped well to follow. We all have leaders that we work with, for and around. And every leader I know values being honored and respected. Honor is a really big thing. And incredibly important as it relates to being part of a team.

How to Get Things Done: Using Your Calendar Effectively. Tim Challies continues his series on productivity from a biblical perspective. In this article he focuses on a scheduling tool – calendars.

What Does It Take to Manage Your Faith, Work, and Family? Diane Paddison writes “When you’re in that important meeting and your phone rings, you should take the call, but not before you’ve laid some important groundwork.”

Quotes from Matt Perman:

  • The role of the leader is to help build intelligence, judgment, and character. It is not to control people.
  • Servant leaders also see themselves as accountable to those they lead.        

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

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

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

We continue with our overview of this new book on productivity from a Christian perspective. This week we look at Chapter 21: Managing Projects and Actions.

God at Work Book ClubGod at Work

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

When we recently visited St. Andrews Chapel where R.C. Sproul is one of the pastors, this book was the church’s “Book of the Month”. I’m excited to read it. We’ll look at a chapter each week – won’t you read along with us? This week we cover Chapter 3: The Purpose of Vocation.

The Gospel at Work Book ClubThe Gospel at Work

The Gospel at Work: How Working for King Jesus Gives Purpose and Meaning to Our Jobs by Sebastian Traeger and Greg D. Gilbert

I’m involved in a book club with peers at work discussing this book. Last week we concluded the book with beginning with Chapter 10: Is Full-Time Ministry More Valuable Than My Job?

 


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Integrating Faith and Work: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work

 Quotable:  Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.
– Jonathan Edwards, Resolution #5

  • My friend Kirk passed along that author and speaker Todd Gongwer will speak on “LEAD … for God’s Sake” Saturday, November 8 at 7:00pm at the Shirk Center on the Illinois Wesleyan University campus. The event is free. Check out Todd’s website here: http://leadforgodsake.com/
  • In this week’s Tuesday Tip, Dr. Alan Zimmerman offers ten ways to building relationships that work.
  • Marcus Goodyear writes in “Your Work Is Not as Important as You Want It To Be: A Review of Mark Labberton’s New Book” that “This little book calls the entire faith and work movement to task, reminding Christians to focus on the First Thing. My career, my success, and my productivity are not elements of my primary calling. A Christian’s calling is not a personal one, but a shared calling with other Christians to something very simple and straightforward: love God and love your neighbor.” Read his article here:
  • “Counterfeit Gods at the Water Cooler”. In this article from the series “Idols at Work”, Caroline Cross writes: “Gossip, workplace or otherwise, indicates what St. Augustine called disordered loves. Keller and Chalmers attest that only the supremacy of Christ’s compelling love can heal our hearts at the deepest level. His perfect love can transform even our talk at the water cooler.”
  • Here’s an interview with Professor Sean McDonough, professor of New Testament at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts, about how to get the most out of the resources offered by the Theology of Work Project. Here are some of his thoughts on what’s been useful to him as he works with Christian students.
  • In his article “Should Your Passion Determine Your Profession?” Dr. David Leonard writes that “Whether you’re a full-time student or a stay-at-home parent, God has called you to use your vocation to serve others, to promote the common good, thereby acting as a vessel of his grace in a fallen world. That is certainly an ideal that we can all be passionate about, regardless of its practical outworking.”
  • “Does Your Team Trust, Respect, and Like Each Other (and You)?” Eric Geiger writes that “The healthiest teams share mutual trust and respect and like each other. They trust each other, have respect for one another’s contribution to the whole, and enjoy each other.” http://ericgeiger.com/2014/10/team-trust-respect-like/#.VED4Bo0tD3h
  • Newbrand Analytics CEO Kristin Muhlner discusses all of the things she says “No” to at work. Check them out here: http://www.fastcompany.com/3036409/how-i-get-it-done/the-many-many-many-things-you-should-say-no-to-at-work
  • The Lethal Drug in Your Dream Job” by Marshall Segal of Desiring God. “Wherever we work, we’ve been deployed by God as agents of everlasting joy. So, let’s labor and succeed as those who’ve already won in Christ. And let us work — in whatever field — that others might experience the freedom, love, and security we enjoy with God.” http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/the-lethal-drug-in-your-dream-job.
  •  In his article “100,000 Hours: Eight Aims for Your Career” Marshall Segal offers eight aims that should drive every Christian career path. http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/100-000-hours-eight-aims-for-your-career
  • Here are ten time management tips from the Time Management Ninja (seriously): http://timemanagementninja.com/2014/10/10-quick-tips-to-improve-your-time-management/
  • In “The Biblical Meaning of Success: Working Diligently for the Master’s Glory”, Hugh Whelchel writes “Two great lies have been promoted in our culture during the past 20 years. They are told to children in school, students in college, and workers throughout the business world. The first great lie is, “If you work hard enough, you can be anything you want to be.” It is often sold as the American Dream, expressed in sayings such as, “In America, anyone can grow up to be president.” The second great lie is like the first one, yet it’s possibly even more damaging: “You can be the best in the world.” These lies are accepted by many Christians as well as non-Christians. Read Hugh’s helpful article here: http://byfaithonline.com/the-biblical-meaning-of-success/
  • Productivity. Tim Challies continues his series on getting things done by first reviewing his definition of productivity: Productivity is effectively stewarding your gifts, talents, time, energy, and enthusiasm for the good of others and the glory of God. Read this installment of the series on task management here: http://www.challies.com/articles/how-to-get-things-done-task-management
  • In “How to Get Things Done: Organization and Systems” Tim Challies continues his series on productivity. http://www.challies.com/articles/how-to-get-things-done-organization-systems
  • “How To Get Things Done: Finding the Right Tools”. Tim Challies writes that over the past couple of weeks he has been working on a series titled How To Get Things Done, and is continuing that series with this article. [Part 1: How to Get Things Done, Part 2: Define Your Areas of Responsibility, Part 3: Time, Energy & Mission]. He spent the first few installments of the series trying to lay a solid foundation. In this article, he chooses tools, because like any other work, the work of productivity requires tools.
  • In his article “Productivity is Really About Good Works” Matt Perman writes that “Chief among the reasons to care about productivity is this: Productivity is really about good works. That’s worth saying again: Productivity is really about good works — which we were created in Christ to do (Ephesians 2:10) and which we are to do eagerly and enthusiastically (Titus 2:14). That’s why productivity matters, and that’s why I write about productivity. My aim is to help Christians be effective in good works. http://whatsbestnext.com/2010/11/productivity-is-really-about-good-works/
  • In “Representing Christ in the Workplace” Dr. Timothy Ewest, in part 6 of his series “Historical Practices of Christians in the Workplace” writes that “Representing Christ in the workplace typically takes either a verbal or nonverbal expression. Verbal representatives are not afraid of incorporating their faith into conversations when appropriate. Nonverbal expressions range from wearing religious jewelry to having religious signs up or performing charitable acts of justice.” Read his article here: http://blog.tifwe.org/representing-christ-in-the-workplace/
  • How Do I Change My Mindset from that of a Producer to that of a Leader?” John Maxwell’s new book is Good Leaders Ask Great Questions. Check out the answer to this question that came from his blog readers.
  • In his article “Sloth and Diligence”, Ken Jones writes that the Protestant work ethic is so named because “one of the things articulated or re-established by the Reformers is the idea that all lawful work (not just religious or church-related work) is sanctified by God. In short, the Reformers recaptured the biblical concept of the dignity of human labor.” Read his article here: http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/sloth-diligence/
  • Are you going through changes in your job? This short e-devotional reminds us to seek God during those times as Daniel did. Read it here: https://otm86890.infusionsoft.com/app/hostedEmail/14691316/4c61cc48ed504cb1
  • “What does it mean to live as a follower of Christ in the workplace?” That’s a question that I have been pursuing a lot this year. Matt Perman states that the answer to that question is to love your neighbor at work. Read his entire article “Work and the Kingdom of God” here:  http://www.gospelproject.com/2014/10/work-kingdom-god/
  • “Repairing the World”. Steven Garber, author of Visions of Vocation, writes: “This week I went further up and further in to the vocation of “tikkun olam,” a calling that belongs to all of us, sons of Adam and daughters of Eve that we are. The vision makes sense of the brokenness of life, of everyone’s life, of life for everyone—whether my son’s house or my colleagues’ business, whether your hope or the heartaches of neighbors a world away. We yearn for things to be made right, for life to be as it could be, as it might be, as it should be—as it is supposed to be.” Read his full article here: http://www.washingtoninst.org/8804/repairing-the-world/
  •  Grumbling at Work? Andrew Spencer writes “That it is important for Christians to avoid habitual complaining to represent Christ well and to increase our own joy in our labors.” Read his article “How Can We Keep From Grumbling at Work?”
  • In her article “Applying Scripture to Your Work”, Bethany Jenkins writes “Most people don’t work in places where public prayer is encouraged. They don’t open their business meetings by reading Scripture. But that doesn’t mean prayer and Scripture can’t be applied to our work. “Over the years,” says Lourine Clark, an executive and leader coach based in New York City, “I’ve learned that God’s truth is truth, and it applies everywhere.” Watch the full 21-minute video to hear David Kim, Executive Director of the Center for Faith & Work at Redeemer Presbyterian Church, talk with Clark about other ways she applies Scripture to her work and how she integrates prayer as a habit in her daily life.”
  • “You Do Not Labor in Vain”. I had two classes at Covenant Seminary with Dan Doriani. In this article he states “At work we have the greatest skill, training, time, and resources. If, by faith, we strive to love God and neighbors at work, then we serve him.’ Read his article here: http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/you-do-not-labor-in-vain
  • This article from the Theology of Work Project, Inc. states that “It is important to note that when work became toil, it was not the beginning of work. Some people see work as part of the curse, but Adam and Eve had already worked the garden. In fact, work becomes more important as a result of the Fall, not less, because more work is required now to yield the necessary results.” Read what happens to work in Genesis 3: 16 here: http://www.theologyofwork.org/old-testament/genesis-1-11-and-work/people-fall-into-sin-in-work-genesis-31-24/
  • In his article “The Christian’s Work Ethic” John MacArthur writes that “The chief reason God allows believers to remain in this world is so He might use them to win the lost and thereby bring glory to His name.” http://www.gty.org/resources/bible-qna/BQ090312/The-Christians-Work-Ethic?Term=work
  • Do you want to be a “Beyond You Leader”? In a video clip from this year’s Leadercast event, Andy Stanley discusses how to empty your cup by looking for opportunities to pour into people around you. Watch this third video in the “Beyond You Leader” series here: http://andystanley.com/free-resources/
  • Did anyone attend the Boston Faith and Work Summit last week? I found these posts from Marcus Goodyear at The High Calling of interest.
  • “A Prayer for Days When You’re Feeling Scattered” by Scotty Smith: http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/scottysmith/2014/10/20/a-prayer-for-days-when-youre-feeling-scattered/

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

God at WorkGod at Work Book Club

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

When we visited St. Andrews Chapel, where R.C. Sproul is one of the pastors, recently, this book was the church’s “Book of the Month”. I’m excited to read it. We’ll look at a chapter each week. This week we cover material from CHAPTER 1 – Introduction: The Christian’s Calling in the World.

What's Best NextWhat’s Best Next Book Club

We continue with our overview of What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms The Way You Get Things Done by Matt Perman, a new book on productivity from a Christian perspective. I’ve highlighted a number of passages and would like to share from the end of Chapter 18 and from Chapter 19 – Weekly Planning.

The Gospel at WorkThe Gospel at Work Book Club

I’m involved in a book club with peers at work discussing The Gospel at Work by Greg Gilbert and Sebastian Traeger. Last week we continued with Chapter 9: How Can I Share the Gospel at Work?

 

 

 

 

 


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Coram Deo – Before the Face of God 9.4.2014

~ UPDATED PAGES ON THE BLOG ~

Movie Reviews:
• The One I Love, rated R
• Magic in the Moonlight, rated PG-13

Book Reviews:
Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan
Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t by Simon Sinek

Quotable:
If you are a Christian, and you refrain from committing adultery or using profanity or missing church, but you don’t do the hard work of thinking through how to do justice in every area of life – you are failing to live justly and righteously. -Tim Keller from Generous Justice

Visions of Vocation Book Club Week 1Visions of Vocation

Steven Garber was the speaker at my Covenant Seminary graduation in May. Tammy and I are reading his newest book Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good. Below are passages we highlighted from our reading for the first week of our book club:
• Percy describes the novelist as “a physician of the soul of society,” and in his essay “Another Message in a Bottle,” he argues, “Bad books always lie. They lie most of all about the human condition.” That insight has become foundational to me, and it is a rare day that I do not draw upon it in conversations.
• Why is it that we care? Why is it that we see ourselves implicated in the world, in the way the world is and isn’t—and in the way it ought to be? And why does it seem that some do not care? I have thought about those questions for most of my life, and they continue to run through my heart.
• But it is also true that whether our vocations are as butchers, bakers or candlestick makers—or people drawn into the worlds of business or law, agriculture or education, architecture or construction, journalism or international development, health care or the arts—in our own different ways we are responsible, for love’s sake, for the way the world is and ought to be. We are called to be common grace for the common good. That is the vision of the Washington Institute, which is my work. Our credo is that vocation is integral, not incidental, to the missio Dei, and we work that out in many different ways in our teaching and writing, courses and curriculum. This book is an effort within that larger work, inviting you in its own way to “come and see” that this vision of vocation is being lived into by men and women, younger and older, who are committed to a faith that shapes vocation that shapes culture.
• “Seek the well-being of the city” was Jeremiah’s prophetic word to the exiles in Babylon, for “when it flourishes, you will flourish” (Jeremiah 29:7 paraphrase). To learn to see—to see ourselves implicated in history, to see that we share a common vocation to care not only for our own flourishing, but for the flourishing of the world—is the vision that has brought this book into being.
Chapter 1 To Know the World and Still Love It?
• More often than not, people want to do the right thing. They want their lives to matter, their visions to shape the way the world works for the common good, at least as they understand the good. In a thousand different ways they want their ideas to have legs. That is what makes Washington, Washington. Who we are and how we live together is the stuff of this city. Laws are imagined, laws are debated, laws are legislated.
• After the lecture, I noticed some young men who were a bit older than the typical undergraduate. They were a group of musicians who called themselves Jars of Clay. I knew of them, but did not know them, and they had their own questions to ask. So we talked and a conversation began that continues to this day. Over the months, they asked about books and essays to read and I was increasingly impressed with their moral seriousness. One day we talked about Africa and their desire to put their creative energy behind an effort to address its complex need for clean blood and water. I told them that a week earlier I had been in Phoenix, Arizona, speaking at a conference called “The Faces of Justice,” and had met a young woman named Jena Lee from Whitworth College who had impressed me with her articulate passion for Africa. It is a long story, but when Jena graduated that spring, she moved to Nashville to work with the Jars of Clay guys to begin Blood:Water Mission. Years later there are more than a thousand different projects in Africa that have grown out of Blood:Water Mission’s work. Jena has done a remarkable job, taking the band’s life and hopes, connecting them to hers, and birthing an organization that is healthy and responsible. The board has grown, and one of its prized members has been Clydette, who is still at USAID doing her work on the global threat of tuberculosis. She has brought all that and more to bear for the sake of the vision and work of Blood:Water Mission, with gladness and singleness of heart marking her vocation.
• To know the world and still love it? There is not a more difficult task that human beings face.
• How do we see what is awful and still engage, still enter in? How can we have our eyes open to reality and understand that we are more implicated, for love’s sake, now that we see?
• As Clydette and Jena have been my teachers, so has Simone Weil. In the 1940s, on the last night of her life, Weil wrote, “The most important task of teaching is to teach what it means to know.” To teach what it means to know? Found in the journal at her bedside, these were the final words of Simone Weil, the French philosopher who died in the 1940s. While her social position would have allowed otherwise, her own passions and commitments led her to the decision that while others suffered during the war years, she would eat only that which was available to the ordinary people of France. And simply said, she starved herself to death. Where did this seriousness of heart come from? Why did she see the world as she did? Why did the weightiness of the world mean so much to her? And why would knowing become that which mattered most? The ideas of Marx and Lenin and Trotsky failed her and her country, was there an answer to be found anywhere? She discovered it finally in the God who cries, the God who has tears. Among many essays that she wrote, there is one that I have loved most, called “On the Right Use of School Studies with a View to the Love of God.”
• Weil argues that it is in learning to pay attention that we begin to understand the meaning of life and of learning. What does she mean? To pay attention is to see what matters and what does not matter. It is to discern rightly, to choose well. Yes, it is to know as we ought to know, to know in a way that leads us to love. She calls this kind of study sacramental, as it is a kind of learning that is born of a love of God for the world—and in it a calling to love as God loves because we know as God knows. Her vision is formed by the story of the Good Samaritan, because in it she sees the primary issue as one of having learned, or not learned, to pay attention to things that matter.
• Two religious leaders, men much like the expert in the law, walk by and do not see a neighbor. They see a man, but do not see a neighbor—someone their law requires them to care for—and they pass by, having justified their indifference religiously, historically and sociologically. They had not learned to pay attention.
• In contrast, the Samaritan does see a neighbor and stops to care for him because he has learned to pay attention, to understand what he sees and why it matters. Weil also calls this kind of seeing sacramental, because it is a kind of learning that connects heaven to earth. Sacraments always do that—they give us the grace to understand that the universe is coherent, that things seen and unseen are equally real, equally true. And they allow us to understand that the most ordinary elements of life can be made holy—even our learning, even our labor, even our love.
• When we see all of life as sacramental, as the graceful twining together of heaven and earth, then we begin to understand the meaning of vocation, which in their very different ways are what the stories of Clydette, Jena and Simone Weil are each about. We can begin to see that all of life, the complexity of our relationships and responsibilities—of family and friendships, of neighbors near and far, of work and citizenship, from the most personal to the most public—indeed, everything is woven together into the callings that are ours, the callings that make us us.
• There is nothing we are asked to do that requires more of us than to know and to love at the same time. Mostly we choose otherwise. Mostly we choose to step away, now knowing as we do.
• Whether it is in the most familiar of relationships, as in marriage, or in the most far-reaching of responsibilities, as in the global AIDS crisis, when we begin to really know what someone is like or what something or someplace is like, the calculus of our hearts more often than not leads us to conclude that it will no longer be possible to love. How can we, after all? Now we know!
• One of my deepest commitments is to the “come and see pedagogy” of the Gospels.
• We learn the truest truths, the most important things, only when we look over the shoulder and through the heart, only when we can see that ideas have legs and that worldviews can become ways of life.
• So when I travel around the country and beyond, I talk about people I know who in their very different ways are connecting what they believe with the way that they live in and through their vocations.
• In fact, they are showing that it is possible to honestly know and to responsibly love as they take up the callings and careers that are theirs. And so time and again, I will say to those who have asked me to speak, “Come and see.” Yes, come and see that what I am saying is possible. People actually do live like this—and you can too.
• We do not have to play games with ourselves or with history, pretending that the world is a nicer place than it ever can be, that somehow really awful things do not happen, that horribly sad moments are not ours to live with and through.
• We do not have to decide that the only livable responses are the most perennial responses, the ones that human beings have made since the beginning of time, those of cynicism and stoicism. Both of course are ways of protecting our hearts from being hurt again, ways of “knowing” that do not ask us to love what we know.
• Rather they are ways of knowing that allow us to step away from history and from our responsibility for the way that history unfolds. They give us the ability to say no to the tragedies and heartaches of life, and to protect ourselves from being hurt by becoming too close to what will inevitably bring pain.
• We can choose to know what is going on in the world and still love the world. But we need good reasons to do so.
• And I began to wonder, Is there something that is more true than what I have believed? Is there an account of the universe that makes more sense of griefs like this?
• John does record, “Jesus wept,” but Warfield digs deeper and opens windows into the heart of God, incarnate in Jesus, who twice is said to have “groaned severely in his spirit.” He does what a good reader of the text will always do and asks about the meaning of John’s words. What he found surprised me. The very words that are used are the same ones that Greek poets used to describe a warhorse ready to enter battle, a stallion rearing on his hind legs, nostrils flaring, angry at what he sees and ready to enter the conflict as a warrior himself, even as he carries a warrior in armor on his back.
• There are moments when we can do nothing else than cry out against the wrongs of the world. It is just not the way it is supposed to be! Outrageous, it is outrageous! Tears matter, and sometimes they are very complex.
• We all cry—but what is important here is why we cry and when we cry and what our crying means for who we are and how we live.
• The tears of God are complex. They must be tears of sympathy, even empathy, as Aslan weeps for Digory’s mother and as Jesus weeps with his friends at the death of their brother. But sometimes they are also tears of anger at the unnaturalness of death, at the distortion of death, at the skewing of human hopes, as Jesus “groaned severely in his spirit” at the death of Lazarus.
• So, reader, come and see. In these next pages, you will meet my friends from near and far, men and women who incarnate the reality that we can know and still love the world, even in its wounds—perhaps especially in its wounds—whether they be in family or friendship, psychological or sociological, in economic life or political life, in the arts or in education, in small towns or on complex continents. As the poet Bob Dylan once sang, “Everything is broken.” Yes, everything, and so we must not be romantics. We cannot afford to be, just as we cannot be stoics or cynics either.
• But the story of sorrow is not the whole story of life either. There is also wonder and glory, joy and meaning, in the vocations that are ours. There is good work to be done by every son of Adam and every daughter of Eve all over the face of the earth. There are flowers to be grown, songs to be sung, bread to be baked, justice to be done, mercy to be shown, beauty to be created, good stories to be told, houses to be built, technologies to be developed, fields to farm, and children to educate.
• All day, every day, there are both wounds and wonders at the very heart of life, if we have eyes to see. And seeing—what Weil called learning to know, to pay attention—is where vocations begin.

Next week we’ll read chapter 2. Won’t you join us? To entice you, here are a few reviews of the book.

~ THIS AND THAT ~

IN THE NEWS ~

  • In our weekly Mark Driscoll update a Mars Hill Church member offers this article on forgiving her pastor. Read it here: http://www.christianitytoday.com/women/2014/august/forgiving-my-pastor-mark-driscoll.html?paging=off
  • Gene Veith writes that “Fighting ALS (“Lou Gehrig’s Disease”) is a worthy cause, worth dumping an ice bucket over your head.  The main beneficiary of the “Ice Bucket Challenge” is the ALS Association.  The problem with that group, though, is that they use a stem cell line from an aborted child.  There are, however, other ALS research organizations that honor the sanctity of life.” Read his article here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/geneveith/2014/08/better-places-to-send-your-ice-bucket-challenge-money/2015 Ligonier National Conference
  • Peter Jones and my favorite blogger Tim Challies have been added to the lineup for the 2015 Ligonier Ministries National Conference. The conference theme is “After Darkness, Light” and will be held February 19-21 at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando. The conference features a strong lineup of speakers. In addition to Challies and Jones, speakers include R.C. Sproul, Kevin DeYoung, Sinclair Ferguson, Alistair Begg, Russell Moore, Stephen Nichols and more. You can find out more about the conference and register at: http://www.ligonier.org/events/2015-national-conference/
  • Kevin DeYoung, who pastors a church on or near the campus of Michigan State University writes that “With most major college getting whipped into a full frenzy, I thought it would be worthwhile to dust off a few thoughts about binge drinking on our nation’s campuses.” Read his thoughts here: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2014/08/26/christ-and-keg-stands/
  • Recently the trustees of the Southern Baptist Convention International Mission Board elected David Platt to serve as president. Platt will be leaving his position as lead pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama where he has served since 2006 to take on this new assignment. Read here why Russell Moore is radically happy about Platt assuming his new position.
  • There sure is a lot going on of concern in our world these days – Russia/Ukraine, Ebola, Israel/Hamas, ISIS, Ferguson and you could add much more. I got a chuckle out of this cartoon from World Magazine.

Obama - World MagazineTRENDING TOPICS ~

SPORTS ~

TO MAKE YOU SMILE ~

PROBING QUESTIONS ~

 INTERESTING ARTICLES, VIDEOS AND MUCH NEEDED PRAYER ~

     BIBLE STUDY ~

     DEALING WITH DIFFICULT PEOPLE AND SITUATIONS ~

TIM KELLER ~

MOVIES ~

BOOKS ~Francis Shaeffer Book

  • This month’s free audiobook from Christianaudio is a good one. It is the classic How Should We Then Live? by Francis Schaeffer. Read about how to download your copy here: http://christianaudio.com/free/?utm_source=HomePage&utm_medium=InternalBanner&utm_campaign=FreeAudiobook
  • Great news! Banner of Truth is now offering e-books! They have released their first ten, including the classic Valley of Vision. Check out their e-book page here.
  • Not a Chance by R.C. Sproul and Dr. Keith Mathison, has been revised and expanded in light of recent scientific discoveries and ongoing attacks against God and reason, exposing the irrational claims of modern day science. Read about the new release and special pricing from Ligonier Ministries here: http://www.ligonier.org/blog/not-chance-new-sproul-mathison/?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzRss&utm_campaign=ligonierministriesblog
  • Justin Taylor is starting a new series on novels that every Christian should consider reading. The first contributor to share their list is Kathy Keller. Read her suggested novels here.  Francis Chan book
  • Francis Chan and his wife Lisa have written a book on marriage You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity. Christianaudio is offering a special introductory rate of $7.49 for the audiobook. In addition, all other Francis Chan titles are now 50% off at Christianaudio.com. Read more here.
  • UnPHILtered by Phil RobertsonUnPHILtered is the ultimate guide to everything Phil Robertson believes in. Balancing his sometimes off-the-wall comments with his strong focus on home and family life, it is sure to spark discussion, laughs, and a sincere appreciation for Phil’s unique approach to life. The book will be released this week.
  • Last week I re-read Radical by David Platt. The book ends with “The Radical Experiment”. Read about that here:  http://www.radicalexperiment.org/overview.html
  • NoiseTrade is offering a free download of the new book from Plumb. “Need You Now: A Story of Hope” is the incredibly honest and hugely encouraging new book by recording artist, songwriter, and performer PLUMB aka Tiffany Lee. Both laugh-out-loud funny and deeply moving, it is the story of beautiful and embarrassing moments on stage, the joys and trials of motherhood and unbridled forgiveness”. To download here: http://books.noisetrade.com/plumb/need-you-now-a-story-of-hope

MUSIC ~

  • Tim Challies takes a crack at the ten greatest hymns of all time here. Did he leave out any of your favorites?
  • Christian rapper Shope has released a new EP. You can listen to it here: https://soundcloud.com/allofshope/sets/shope-ep
  • Lecrae’s Anomaly will be released September 9. He has released four songs thus far for those who have pre-ordered the album. All four are charting in the top 44 on iTunes Hip-Hop/Rap chart, which on August 27 contained only 43 songs on the Top 200 not marked “Explicit” (of which 4 were Lecrae’s). He is truly making a difference in this genre. The latest song to be released “Say I Won’t” (featuring Andy Mineo) is also coming in at #10 at the overall iTunes top songs chart.
  • Lecrae is on the cover of CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) Magazine. Download it here: http://www.ccmmagazine.com/getcurrentissue/
  • Dylan - Basement TapesThe Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 from Bob Dylan and the Band will be released November 4. The Basement Tapes Complete brings together, for the first time ever, every salvageable recording from the tapes including recently discovered early gems recorded in the “Red Room” of Dylan’s home in upstate New York. Garth Hudson (of The Band), worked closely with Canadian music archivist and producer Jan Haust to restore the deteriorating tapes to pristine sound, with much of this music preserved digitally for the first time. The six disc collection compiled from the summer of 1967 recordings, will feature 138 tracks and cost $59.99 on iTunes. Read this article from USA Today about the new collection. 
  • Bruce Springsteen has written a children’s book Outlaw Pete, based on his 2009 song of the same name. Read about the book here: http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/music/2014/08/28/bruce-springsteen-childrens-book-outlaw-pete/14728461/
  • The hidden gem on 20, Jars of Clay’s 20th anniversary celebration album is “If You Love Her”, inspired by Blood: Water Mission (http://www.bloodwater.org/)

You go find water
You go find water
If you love her
If you love her
If you love her
If you love her
At all

You can watch Jars of Clay singing this beautiful song here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YlW0j47OSQFaith-and-Work

Integrating Faith and Work:  Connecting Sunday to Monday

Book Review:
Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t by Simon Sinek

Whats Best Next Poster

 What's Best NextWhat’s Best Next Series – Part 5

 What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done by Matt Perman. Zondervan. 352 pages. 2014

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 11.

I’d encourage you to read the book along with me, and to visit Matt’s website at http://whatsbestnext.com/ and in particular The Toolkit: http://whatsbestnext.com/toolkit/

 

Don’t Waste Your Life at Work

Next to the Bible, this book has had the most impact on my life. I’ve tended to read the book each year since it was published in Don't Waste Your Life-0012003. There are many things I would like to share below from “Chapter 8: Making Much of Christ from 8 to 5”.
• It would be a mistake to infer from the call to wartime living in the previous chapter that Christians should quit their jobs and go to “war”—say, to become missionaries or pastors or full-time relief workers. That would be a fundamental misunderstanding of where the war is being fought.
• The war is not primarily spatial or physical—though its successes and failures have physical effects. Therefore, the secular vocations of Christians are a war zone. There are spiritual adversaries to be defeated (that is, evil spirits and sins, not people); and there is beautiful moral high ground to be gained for the glory of God. You don’t waste your life by where you work, but how and why.
• The call to be a Christian was not a call to leave your secular vocation. That’s the clear point of 1 Corinthians 7:17-24. Therefore, the burning question for most Christians should be: How can my life count for the glory of God in my secular vocation?
• Our aim is to joyfully magnify Christ—to make him look great by all we do.
• Boasting only in the cross, our aim is to enjoy making much of him by the way we work. The question is, How? The Bible points to at least six answers.
1. We can make much of God in our secular job through the fellowship that we enjoy with him throughout the day in all our work.
• When the saints are at work in their secular employment, they are scattered. They are not together in church. So the command to “remain there with God” is a promise that you may know God’s fellowship personally and individually on the job.
• One way to enjoy God’s presence and fellowship is through thankful awareness that your ability to do any work at all, including this work, is owing to his grace.
• This is the way God speaks to you through the day. He encourages you, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10). He reminds you that the challenges of the afternoon are not too hard for him to manage: “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27). He tells you not to be anxious, but to ask him for whatever you need (Philippians 4:6), and says, “Cast all your anxieties on me, for I care for you” (paraphrase of 1 Peter 5:7). And he promises to guide you through the day: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you” (Psalm 32:8).
2. We make much of Christ in our secular work by the joyful, trusting, God-exalting design of our creativity and industry.
• So if you go all the way back, before the origin of sin, there are no negative connotations about secular work. According to Genesis 2:2, God himself rested from his work of creation, implying that work is a good, God-like thing.
• To be sure, when God sends us forth to work as his image bearers, our ditches are to be dug straight, our pipe-fittings are not to leak, our cabinet corners should be flush, our surgical incisions should be clean, our word processing accurate and appealing, and our meals nutritious and attractive, because God is a God of order and beauty and competence. But cats are clean, and ants are industrious, and spiders produce orderly and beautiful works. And all of them are dependent on God. Therefore, the essence of our work as humans must be that it is done in conscious reliance on God’s power, and in conscious quest of God’s pattern of excellence, and in deliberate aim to reflect God’s glory.
• When you work like this—no matter what your vocation is—you can have a sweet sense of peace at the end of the day. It has not been wasted. God has not created us to be idle. Therefore, those who abandon creative productivity lose the joy of God-dependent, world-shaping, God-reflecting purposeful work.
• True personal piety feeds the purposeful work of secular vocations rather than undermining it. Idleness does not grow in the soil of fellowship with God. Therefore, people who spend their lives mainly in idleness or frivolous leisure are rarely as happy as those who work. Retired people who are truly happy have sought creative, useful, God-honoring ways to stay active and productive for the sake of man’s good and God’s glory.
• So the second way we make much of God in our secular work is through the joyful, trusting, God-exalting design of our creativity and industry. God created us for work so that by consciously relying on his power and consciously shaping the world after his excellence, we might be satisfied in him, and he might be glorified in us. And when we remember that all this God-exalting creativity and all this joy is only possible for undeserving sinners like us because of the death of Christ, every hour of labor becomes a boasting in the cross.
3. We make much of Christ in our secular work when it confirms and enhances the portrait of Christ’s glory that people hear in the spoken Gospel.
• There is no point in overstating the case for the value of secular work. It is not the Gospel. By itself, it does not save anyone. In fact, with no spoken words about Jesus Christ, our secular work will not awaken wonder for the glory of Christ. That is why the New Testament modestly calls our work an adornment of the Gospel.
• So one crucial meaning of our secular work is that the way we do it will increase or decrease the attractiveness of the Gospel we profess before unbelievers. Of course, the great assumption is that they know we are Christians.
• Should Christians be known in their offices as the ones you go to if you have a problem, but not the ones to go to with a complex professional issue? It doesn’t have to be either-or. The biblical mandate is: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Colossians 3:23; cf. Ephesians 6:7).
• So the third way we make much of God in our secular work is by having such high standards of excellence and such integrity and such manifest goodwill that we put no obstacles in the way of the Gospel but rather call attention to the all-satisfying beauty of Christ. When we adorn the Gospel with our work, we are not wasting our lives. And when we call to mind that the adornment itself (our God-dependent, God-shaped, God-exalting work) was purchased for us by the blood of Christ, and that the beauty we adorn is itself the Gospel of Christ’s death, then all our tender adornment becomes a boasting in the cross.
4. We make much of Christ in our secular work by earning enough money to keep us from depending on others, while focusing on the helpfulness of our work rather than financial rewards.
• The curse under which we live today is not that we must work. The curse is that, in our work, we struggle with weariness and frustration and calamities and anxiety.
• Able-bodied people who choose to live in idleness and eat the fruit of another’s sweat are in rebellion against God’s design. If we can, we should earn our own living.
• How then do Christians make much of Christ in working “to earn their own living”?
• First, by conforming willingly to God’s design for this age. It is an act of obedience that honors his authority.
• Second, by removing stumbling blocks from unbelievers who would regard the lazy dependence of Christians on others as an evidence that our God is not worthy of following. “Work with your hands . . . so that you may live properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one” (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12). We honor God by earning our living because this clears the way for non-Christians to see Christ for who he really is. Aimless, unproductive Christians contradict the creative, purposeful, powerful, merciful God we love. They waste their lives.
• Third, we make much of God by earning our own living when we focus not on financial profit but on the benefit our product or service brings to society.
• This is paradoxical. I am saying, yes, we should earn enough money to meet our needs. But, no, we should not make that the primary focus of why we work. In other words, don’t focus on mere material things in your work. Don’t labor merely with a view to the perishable things you can buy with your earnings. Work with an eye not mainly to your money, but your usefulness. Work with a view to benefiting people with what you make or do.
• So don’t labor for the food that perishes. Labor to love people and honor God. Think of new ways that your work can bless people. Stop thinking mainly of profitability, and think mainly of how helpful your product or service can become. You are not working for the food that perishes. Your goal is to enjoy Christ’s being exalted in the way you work.
• None of us in our vocations should aim mainly at the food that perishes—leave that to the Lord. We should aim instead to do the will of him who sent us. And his will is that we treasure him above all else and live like it.
• If we simply work to earn a living—if we labor for the bread that perishes—we will waste our lives. But if we labor with the sweet assurance that God will supply all our needs—that Christ died to purchase every undeserved blessing—then all our labor will be a labor of love and a boasting only in the cross.
5. We make much of Christ in our secular work by earning money with the desire to use our money to make others glad in God.
• So my point here is that, as we work, we should dream of how to use our excess money to make others glad in God. Of course, we should use all our money to make others glad in God, in the sense that our whole life has this aim. But the point here is that our secular work can become a great God-exalting blessing to the world if we aim to take the earnings we don’t need for ourselves (and we need far less than we think) and meet the needs of others in the name of Jesus.
• God clearly tells us that we should work to provide the needs of those who can’t meet their own needs.
6. We make much of Christ in our secular work by treating the web of relationships it creates as a gift of God to be loved by sharing the Gospel and by practical deeds of help.
• But now I want to say that speaking the good news of Christ is part of why God put you in your job. He has woven you into the fabric of others’ lives so that you will tell them the Gospel. Without this, all our adorning behavior may lack the one thing that could make it life-giving.
• Christians should seriously ask not only what their vocation is, but where it should be lived out. We should not assume that teachers and carpenters and computer programmers and managers and CPAs and doctors and pilots should do their work in America. That very vocation may be better used in a country that is otherwise hard to get into, or in a place where poverty makes access to the Gospel difficult. In this way the web of relationships created by our work is not only strategic but intentional.
• In conclusion, secular work is not a waste when we make much of Christ from 8 to 5. God’s will in this age is that his people be scattered like salt and light in all legitimate vocations. His aim is to be known, because knowing him is life and joy. He does not call us out of the world. He does not remove the need to work. He does not destroy society and culture. Through his scattered saints he spreads a passion for his supremacy in all things for the joy of all peoples. If you work like the world, you will waste your life, no matter how rich you get. But if your work creates a web of redemptive relationships and becomes an adornment for the Gospel of the glory of Christ, your satisfaction will last forever and God will be exalted in your joy.
Peace