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