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I came to faith in Christ in high school, and later studied engineering at Alfred University. I graduated in 1996 and moved to Essex Junction, VT where I worked for IBM and was a member at Christ Memorial Church. In 1999, I pursued graduate studies at U.C. Berkeley in Engineering with a view to being a professor and having a ministry with college students. While in Berkeley, I received training in theology and biblical counseling through a leadership development program hosted by Grace Bible Church (with occasional instruction from professors at the Masters College). In the summer of 2004, I was a pastoral intern at Grace Community Church in Gardnerville, NV where I taught and preached regularly to a multi-generational congregation. An evangelical Christian for 18 years, I have been involved in lay ministry with singles of all ages in capacities ranging from summer camps to college and high school ministry to preaching and teaching. I have also taught a semester of elementary Greek and performed occasional pulpit supply.
From 2005 through 2007, I was an apprentice at The Bethlehem Institute under Pastors John Piper and Tom Steller. The Bethlehem Institute is the seminary-level training program of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN.
Now an Associate Professor of Engineering at California Baptist University, I also enjoy theological study and writing. In addition to blogging and writing articles for Boundless, Focus on the Familys webzine for young adults, I am the general editor of Five Paths to the Love of Your Life, a compilation of essays from evangelical Christians on premarital romance. My wife Marni and I wrote With One Voice: Singleness, Dating, and Marriage to the Glory of God, a book based on a six-week Sunday School class I taught during my internship in Gardnerville. The book discusses trends in singleness, whether marriage is normative for adults, and how one's understanding of masculinity and femininity impacts premarital romance.
Marni is a stay-at-home mom raising our toddler Karis Joy, and our most recent blessing, Jonathan Elijah. Marni is from the Haugen family in Palo Alto, CA. Her brother is Erik Haugen and her parents, Chris and Janet Haugen, both teach at The King's Academy.
Randy Alcorn's Eternity is an engaging, biblically faithful, and beautifully illustrated retelling of Jesus' story of a rich man and Lazarus, a beggar, both of whom die and have their fortunes immediately reversed. But it's more than that. Alcorn uses this story to unpack the weighty realities of heaven, hell, and the choice every person--rich or poor, young or old--must make: Will we appear before God on the basis of our sinful record, or on the basis of Christ's perfect record? I expect Eternity will be a powerful tool for presenting the gospel to young adult readers, some of whom may be totally unfamiliar with the Bible, but after reading this book will know everything they need to know to get right with God and begin a life of increasing conformity to their original, divine design.
Some will be skeptical about a graphic novel. Pick it up and give it a try. There's a good chance you won't be able to put it down.
While others have written more scholarly defenses of the theology of vocation, Every Good Endeavor is the most accessible and helpful book I've ever read on integrating a Christian perspective with our daily work----whether that work be "blue-collar" or "white-collar," physical or mental, menial or high-profile. Moreover, Keller simultaneously (and winsomely) speaks to non-Christians who are trying to make sense of the frustrations and pleasures of their work lives.
Keller begins with God's plan for our work: The idea that work preceded the Fall, that work gives dignity to humankind, and that work allows us to cultivate the created order such that others are served. Keller also relates our vocation to the gospel doctrine of justification by faith alone:
"First, if religious works were crucial to achieving a good standing with God, then there would always be a fundamental difference between those in church ministry and everyone else. But if religious work did absolutely nothing to earn favor with God, it could no longer be seen as superior to other forms of labor.
The gospel of salvation through sheer grace holds a second implication for work....many modern people seek a kind of salvation--self-esteem and self-worth--from career success. This leads us to seek only high-paying, high-status jobs, and to 'worship' them in perverse ways. But the gospel frees us from the relentless pressure of having to prove ourselves and secure our identity through work, for we are already proven and secure."
The second section of the book unpacks the many frustrations of work that the Fall made inevitable. As Christians, however, we can know that while our work in this world will always fall short, "our work in this life is not the final world." We labor in the certain hope of redemption, and of a new heavens and new earth. Keller goes on to address how to biblically steward the responsibility, authority, and power that might come from a job well done (or from being, providentially, well-connected to others in power). Finally, Keller deals with how our work lives reveal our most deeply held and pervasive idols. Different cultures have different idols. Keller gives of the main idols of three dominant cultures of Western history: traditional, modern, and postmodern.
Part three is about the gospel and work. Put simply, the Christian worldview helps us make sense of our work. Keller flushes out how the gospel relates to business, journalism, higher education, the arts, and medicine. This section also includes an excellent treatment of the doctrine of common grace. Everyone, including non-Christians, ultimately does God's work in the sense that they utilize their God-given talents. And everyone has some knowledge of God's truth; even if they suppress it in unrighteousness, it inevitably bubbles up. Some non-Christians are highly moral. Keller writes:
"Properly understood, the doctrine of sin means that believers are never as good as our true worldview should make us. Similarly, the doctrine of grace means that unbelievers are never as messed up as their false worldview should make them."
The gospel gives Christians a "new compass" for work: we work unto the Lord, but for the good of others. This empowers us to be change-agents in our spheres, for the sake of others. We'll have a winsome, peaceful attitude as we go about our work because we no longer "need" the work to give us meaning and worth (we got those from God). Unpacking Matt. 11:28-30, where Jesus tells us to take his yoke upon us so that we can find rest for our souls, Keller explains:
"The yoke or harness put on a beast of burden was a symbol of slavery and grinding toil. How could this be a solution to the problem of deep weariness? Jesus says that it is his yoke and burden--and it is the only one that is light. Why? "For I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls" (verse 29). He is the only boss who will not drive you into the ground, the only audience that does not need your performance in order to be satisfied with you. Why is this? Because his work for you is finished."
All in all, Every Good Endeavor is an excellent read for anyone seeking a better understanding of how their faith can be, and should be, integrated with their work.
Frank A. Brock, former President of Covenant College packs a ton of wisdom into this short book. It echoes a lot of the themes I discussed in Thriving at College, but in a book suitable to parents walking their children through the college preparation and selection process.
Brock sets out to help parents "understand something of the educational landscape and see that there are many types of learning communities with differing philosophies of education, all of which have different outcomes." He wants to help higher education customers be discerning, because "there's a difference between getting a degree and getting a good education."
Brock explains that there are four "emotional filters" through which parents tend to process the college decision: financial, location, familiarity, and who they view as the primary decision maker, the child or themselves. Brock advises parents to initiate a series of conversations with their children about what is important in the college decision. The goal is "an intentional student, one who knows where he or she is going and why. Such intentionality will greatly increase the student's own desire to make the most of the college experience, thus significantly increasing the likelihood of getting a good education."
Brock incisively captures today's teen mindset-as true today as when the book was published 10 years ago: They go to college seeking money and success, whereas they used to go primarily to develop a meaningful philosophy of life. Only about half of high school graduates pursued college as recently as 1970, today it's well over 70% (although half of these don't complete a B.A. or B.S. degree even after six years). The number of colleges has proliferated-i.e., supply has grown to meet the rising demand. To best compete for students, colleges have reduced the number of mandatory courses from 6.9 in 1964 to 2.5 in 1993. Since students don't have to work hard to get A's and B's in high school, they go into college never having learned good study skills (and assuming they'll still get high grades).
Professors often don't care to address student work ethic and character in general (let alone their spiritual development), as they were trained (and are now rewarded) in research, not teaching. Many colleges have thus become disintegrated into sharply divided departments, rather than providing a coherent, unified educational experience for students of all majors. But "curricular coherence" is of vital importance, writes Brock, as is students developing a meaningful philosophy of life, and becoming truly wise and virtuous members of society.
On campus visits, Brock suggests that students ask these sorts of questions:
Was there interaction between the students and the professor in the class?
Did students appear interested or bored?
Were students taking notes?
What are the tests like? Are they true/false and fill in the blank, or essay tests?
The learning environment of the college outside the classroom is also important-e.g., the residential culture, opportunities for meaningful cross-cultural service/missions experiences. Brock recommends that parents assess the selectivity and cost of various schools, but not to forget that private schools often give merit- and need-based financial aid.
Much more can be said about this excellent book. I highly recommend it to parents of high school students.
Who would buy a house that wasn't built according to a carefully drafted plan -- a set of blueprints? Yet MOST aspiring non-fiction authors rush to write a full manuscript without first doing the hard work of drawing up "a set of blueprints": a proposal. But here's the truth: 90% of non-fiction books are sold from a book proposal (not from a manuscript!). Writing a proposal won't just dramatically increase your chances of getting a book contract. It will help you write a better book. (That was certainly my own experience in writing Thriving at College. My proposal literally become my daily guide in writing the book.)
In Book Proposals That $ell, experienced author and editor Terry Whalin walks you through the proposal process step-by-step, even giving you a sample proposal at the end of the book. It also includes an excellent 20-page appendix from Michael Hyatt called "Writing a Winning Book Proposal."
Beyond the mechanics of the proposal process, Whalin gives readers an inside look into the publishing world--explaining how editors think, and how publishing houses make decisions. Trust me, fellow writers, you want to know how the decision-makers go about choosing which books to publish. Book Proposals That $ell will give folks like you and me a "leg up" on the difficult process of taking an idea and turning it into a published book.
Eugene B. Sledge enlisted in the Marine Corps on December 3, 1942 although he was a freshman at Marion Military Institute. He explains that he quit college because he was "prompted by a deep feeling of uneasiness that the war might end" before he could get overseas. But his parents wanted him to become a military officer, so he compromised by signing up for the V-12 new officer training program. That put him in a comfortable classroom in Georgia Tech, with boring teachers, detached from the war. At the end of the first semester, Sledge was one of ninety men (half the detachment) to intentionally flunk out of school in order to be allowed to enter the Marine Corps as enlisted men. They wanted to serve their country immediately.
With the Old Breed walks us through boot camp, Sledge's training at Camp Elliot, further training at Pavuvu, and then into the battle of Peleliu. I was struck by Sledge's maturity, bravery, and almost unqualified respect for those in his chain of command. How different from so many 18-19 year old men today! Sledge paints a vivid picture of the horrors of war, providing a clear context of the larger scale troop movements and progress while also dwelling on the relationships of the soldiers, the details of daily life (from wet socks, to enjoying scavenged Japanese rations of sea scallops, to "field sanitation"), and countless anecdotes of incidents showing the bravery of the men and their devotion to each other.
In no way does Sledge ever glorify the war. He describes it eloquently as "brutish, inglorious, and a terrible waste." The stress the men endure and the atrocities they witness slowly--or in some cases quickly--dehumanized many of them, to the point that some were guilty of atrocious acts, like looting the gold teeth of a still-living Japanese soldier. Sledge does not spare readers the misery of their surroundings, the terror of being constantly under barrage by machine gun bullets and enemy shells, or the despair at the senseless loss of life.
I was awestruck by the fact that as miserable and fearful as he was in battle, he never once expresses regret. There is a sense that despite all the misery and futility the war was still necessary. But what seemed to motivate Sledge was not the abstract principle of protecting the American way of life. It was the comradeship and commitment he shared with his fellow marines, the knowledge that they were going through this together as friends and that each of them would die to save the others. Still, his quite, underlying patriotism comes out on the last page of the book, where he writes: "If the country is good enough to live in, it's good enough to fight for. With privilege goes responsibility."
The book is a page-turner. Written in a calm, almost detached way, Sledge's memoirs are surprisingly engaging and even suspenseful. I read it very carefully, not wanting to miss a word, feeling as though I was experiencing the war along with Company K (though thankfully without the maggots, flooded foxholes, or constant threat to my life).
I purchased this cleaner based on the overall positive reviews and good value. At that time, the product description did not mention anti-reflective coatings at all. But when I received the product in the mail, the following was printed on the bottle: "Check with your optician before using this product on Anti-Reflective coated lenses. Not for use with plasma screens." So I did call the optician, who said not to use this product on the glasses, because it would cause the breakdown of any coatings on the lenses....Read more
This book is vintage Tim Keller--insightful, convicting, and intellectually engaging. Moreover, the Keller's are biblically-rooted, but in a way that speaks directly to Christians and non-Christians alike. For example, it has some of the best arguments against cohabitation that I've ever heard. Likewise, Kathy Keller's chapter on submission/headship winsomely presentsa viewpoint considered anathema in many pockets of our culture. Each chapter is highly substantive. The book's overall flow is easy to follow.
The Keller's avoid sentimentality and write with a deep understanding of the reality of sin in marriage, but also of the hope that infuses Christian marriage because of Jesus Christ. Marriage is a crucible in which we're forced to deal with the reality of our selfishness and pride. For Christians, the Holy Spirit uses this context to renew us in the image of God. A brief chapter-by-chapter overview:
Chapter 1 - Puts Paul's discussion into today's cultural context and lay out two of the most basic teachings by the Bible on marriage-- that it has been instituted by God and that marriage was designed to be a reflection of the saving love of God for us in Jesus Christ.
Chapter 2 - Pesent Paul's thesis that all married partners need the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. The work of the Spirit makes Christ's saving work real to our hearts, giving us supernatural help against the main enemy of marriage: sinful self- centeredness. We need the fullness of the Spirit if we are to serve one another as we should.
Chapter 3 - Gets us into the heart of what marriage is all about-- namely, love. But what is love? This chapter discusses the relationship of feelings of love to acts of love and the relationship of romantic passion to covenantal commitment.
Chapter 4 - Addresses the question of what marriage is for: It is a way for two spiritual friends to help each other on their journey to become the persons God designed them to be. A new and deeper kind of happiness is found on the far side of holiness.
Chapter 5 - Lays out three basic skill sets through which we can help each other on that journey.
Chapter 6 - Discusses the Christian teaching that marriage is a place where the two sexes accept each other as differently gendered and learn and grow through it.
Chapter 7 - Helps single people use the material in this book to live the single life well and to think wisely about seeking marriage themselves.
Chapter 8 - Takes on the subject of sex, why the Bible confines it to marriage, and how, if we embrace the Biblical view, it will play out in both the single life and in marriage.
As a longtime observer of the political process, I was intrigued to see that disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff was out of prison and had written an apparently "tell-all" book. I first heard him on 60 minutes talking about the "revolving door" - how easy it is for senior lobbyists to entice senators, congressmen, and their staff (particularly their chiefs of staff) with the prospect of a job in lobbying after they're ready to move on. With this golden opportunity dangling before them, the powerful person on Capitol Hill was sure to do your bidding so long as they remained in power. (Lobbyists earn far more money than staffers, and the later control access to elected officials.)
In the 60 minutes segment, Abramoff sounded contrite. He now wanted to help reform the process, he said. Fight for term limits ("Washington is a dangerous place"), close the revolving door (make it illegal for public servants to later pursue K street employment), and make it illegal for lobbyists to give anything of value to power brokers (not even a glass of water, let alone campaign funds, or a lucrative job offer). All this made me want to read the book.
Abramoff is an engaging writer, and the book kept my attention, even though I didn't have much interest about his experience in leadership with the College Republicans, or his time making movies overseas (the latter being irrelevant to the book's theme). He described his first experience with Beltway corruption: A congressman offered to deliver him thirteen votes in exchange for getting a military base in his district. (The GOP White House immediately gave him the military base.) Later, Abramoff describes how he began to encourage his clients to reward elected officials who helped promote their causes with generous contributions:
"The quid pro quo became one of the hallmarks of our lobbying efforts....there is no question that contributions have a significant impact on the process-and that impact is not positive. What I did not consider then, and never considered until I was sitting in prison, was that contributions from parties with an interest in legislation are really nothing but bribes. Sure, it's legal for the most part. Sure, everyone in Washington does it. Sure, it's the way the system works. It's one of Washington's dirty little secrets-but it's bribery just the same" (p. 90).
What I liked most about the book were these frank revelations, pulling back the curtain as it were and showing how pervasive money is in the garnering of influence. Specifically, Abramoff shares how he exploited tax loopholes to encourage his Indian clients to give enormous sums of money to politicians, securing influence, but also establishing Abramoff as a major player. I wish the author had more carefully explained when, precisely, his ambition led to his breaking the law. But the overall message of the book seems to be that it doesn't really matter: the whole system is so broken, that even if many of the things Abramoff did were legal (and apparently they were), they still wouldn't be right. They still compromise our democracy and give undue influence to those with deep pockets.
And that gets me to the biggest weakness of the book. Abramoff seems to be saying, "Yes, I technically broke the law-but only because I operated in a broken system, and, in my amazing success, just pushed a bit too far." Abramoff devotes ample space to discussing how seriously he takes his Orthodox Judaism, how charitable he was--how even when he earned obscene amounts of money, he was enormously generous (founding schools, helping others with business ventures, etc.). In other places, Abramoff touts his accomplishments in detail, and even seeks to "set the record straight"--downplaying his guilt here, explaining the purity of his intentions there. All this, I'm sad to say, makes the book come off as more of a victory lap than a bid for redemption.
The truth is Abramoff ripped off a bunch of people, over-sold and over-billed his services, and recklessly disregarded the rule of law. Why? Because he could, and because it expanded his power. He was more ambitious for himself than his country. He charged his client obscene fees because he could -- after all, he "owned" the congressmen who alone could help the clients. His extravagant receipts allowed him to purchase more influence, and the vicious circle continued, ever-widening to more elected officials. Abramoff, even now, seems too high on himself, too proud of the Abramoff Empire that once was. And insufficiently humbled for how he abused his opportunity to influence the process for good. Consequently, his chapter on what reforms should be pursued--potentially the high-point of the book--had some good ideas, but was disappointingly superficial.
All an all, a worthwhile read for those interested in the political system -- but take the self-aggrandizing parts of the narrative with a large grain of salt.
I received a copy the other day and have really enjoyed looking through this excellent resource. Many students will benefit from this highly accessible and informative study Bible. It looks great, ready easily, and is full of interesting and spiritually insightful commentary (including glossary, concordance, maps, and more). Highly recommended....Read more