Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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Book News, Reviews and More

Book NewsNew Reformation Study Bible. Watch this short video to hear about the additional online resources you receive when you purchase the new Reformation Study Bible.

Tim Keller’s Foreword for Collin Hansen’s New Book. Justin Taylor shares Tim Keller’s foreword for Collin Hansen’s new book, Blind Spots: Becoming a Courageous, Compassionate, and Commissioned Church.

Don’t Be Scared Off from Reading the Puritans. Jason Helopoulos writes “Read the Puritans. They aren’t quite as hard to read as they have been portrayed and they aren’t quite as scary either. In fact, they are good for the mind, the heart, and the soul.”

7 Books That I Would Definitely Read. Here’s an interesting list of books that have not been written that Tim Challies would be interested in reading. Book Reviews

A New Season - Alan and Lisa RobertsonA New Season: A Robertson Family Love Story of Brokenness and Redemption by Alan and Lisa Robertson. Howard Books. 273 pages. 2014. Audiobook read by Alan and Lisa Robertson.
***

Alan is the oldest of the Duck Commander Robertson brothers. He is sometimes known as the “beardless brother”. His parents Phil and Kay were pregnant with Al before they were married.

The book opens with reflections and endorsements from family members. I had heard a part of Alan and Lisa’s story in the book The Women of Duck Commander. I listened to the audiobook version of the book which was read by Alan and Lisa. They rotate telling their stories. The book includes helpful lessons learned and reflections at the end of each chapter. The authors hope that others will learn from their mistakes and experiences.

Alan tells his story of growing up before Phil was saved. Phil drank a lot and at one point kicked Miss Kay, Alan, Jase and Willie out of the home. At age 8, Alan helped to raise Jase and Willie as the man of the house as Phil wasn’t fulfilling that role.

Lisa tells of a secret that she kept for many years, being sexually abused from age 7 until she was a teenager by a family member in grandmother’s home. She carried the secret and the corresponding shame with her.

Lisa was never close to her mother because of how she treated her sister Barbara who left home early. Lisa mentions that Barbara was also molested by someone. Lisa was closest to Barbara and her father. Barbara struggled with alcoholism before she died.

Lisa first caught sight of Al when she was in the 6th grade. Al was very popular and didn’t really notice her. Al started going downhill spiritually when he was in the 9th grade, even though he was only 13 years old. He became sexually active with an older girl. He was living a double life, drinking and smoking marijuana.

Later, after Lisa had matured physically Al noticed her. Before long they were having sex and Al introduced her to drinking and drugs. It took Jase to tell his parents the truth about Al.

Al left Lisa and went to New Orleans where he was almost killed by the husband of the woman he was dating. He would return to Louisiana, recommit his life to Christ and be baptized by Phil in the river. The love that Phil showed his prodigal son changed Al’s life and relationship with Phil forever.

When Al went to New Orleans Lisa went on a downward spiral of sex and drinking. She got pregnant and had an abortion, even though her boyfriend wanted her to keep the baby and marry him. But Lisa still longed for a relationship with Alan. Eventually they did get back together and were married in late 1984.

Their first daughter Anna was born premature. Lisa wondered if Anna’s early struggles were punishment for her earlier abortion. Anna had to have heart surgery when she was very young. The doctors gave the surgery only a 40% chance of success. The surgery was successful and Anna went home on a heart monitor when she reached 4 pounds. She experienced no more problems, and has lived a normal life, getting married and having three children.  Lisa would have a second daughter Alexis and then later a miscarriage. She continued to feel shame for the abortion.

Lisa and Al struggled financially in the early days of their marriage. Al and Jase went to preaching school and Al would preach at churches on the weekends. But Lisa didn’t want the life of a pastor’s wife. She was unhappy and had an inappropriate relationship with a married man. Al forgave her, but told her that if she was ever unfaithful again he would divorce her.

Later, she would have a 14-month affair with an old boyfriend. Lisa originally denied it, but Al confirmed it through Lisa’s cell phone records. Al asked her to leave the family home. That same night Lisa surrendered to Christ for the first time.

Lisa was then fired from Duck Commander when it was discovered that she had been stealing money to fund her affair (to pay for clothes and makeup). Their daughters were just 10 and 12 years old at the time

After much prayer, Al decided to choose forgiveness, despite many family members disagreeing with the decision. They purchased new wedding rings and renewed their wedding vows privately. Lisa wrote a letter of apology to family and tried to pay back the money she stole from Duck Commander, but Miss Kay would not allow it. Lisa also changed the way she dressed and acted around men, which previously had been provocative.

The couple now helps to counsel others and hold marriage retreats. They feel that if they can help one other couple from their story it will make their pain redemptive.

Al left the ministry in 2012 to work with Duck Commander and Duck Dynasty. An appendix is included in which they teach from scripture how men are to be respectful and women are to be lovable. 

Reading Together ~ Week 7

Counter Culture by David PlattCounter Culture: A Compassionate Call to Counter Culture in a World of Poverty, Same-Sex Marriage, Racism, Sex Slavery, Immigration, Abortion, Persecution, Orphans and Pornography by David Platt.

David Platt, author of Radical, has written an important new book. So important, I believe, that rather than doing one book review, I’m going to review the content chapter by chapter. Note, all of Platt’s royalties from this book will go toward promoting the glory of Christ in all nations.

Each chapter concludes by offering some initial suggestions for practical requests you can pray in light of these issues, potential ways you might engage culture with the gospel, and biblical truths we must proclaim regarding every one of these issues. These suggestions will also direct you to a website www.counterculturebook.com/resources, where you can explore more specific steps you might take.

This week we look at Chapter 7: Bought with a Price: The Gospel and Sexual Morality

  • Our bodies have been created not only by God but also for God. This is a very different starting point than most people have in our culture. We are driven today by whatever can bring our bodies the most pleasure.
  • God wants you to experience the maximum joy for which your body is built, and as the Creator of our bodies, he knows what will bring them the most pleasure.
  • All throughout the Bible he gives us boundaries for how our bodies are to be used. But when we ignore these boundaries, it’s as if we’re saying to God, “You don’t know how this body is to be used. I know better than you do.”
  • There is not one instance in all of God’s Word where God advocates or celebrates sex outside of a marriage relationship between a husband and a wife. Not one.
  • According to God, sex with anyone who is not your husband or your wife is sin, whether that happens before marriage, during marriage, or after marriage. This prohibition also includes sex between a man and a man or a woman and a woman. On this the Bible is explicit.
  • God is clear in his Word that homosexual activity is prohibited.
  • In order to protect us from lusts, greeds, desires, and temptations that give birth to sin, the Bible also prohibits all sexual looking and thinking outside of marriage between a husband and a wife.
  • It is also wrong to provoke sexual desires in others outside of marriage.
  • God prohibits any kind of crude speech, humor, or entertainment that remotely revolves around sexual immorality.
  • Even Christians who refuse to indulge personally in sinful sexual activity often watch movies and shows, read books and articles, and visit Internet sites that highlight, display, promote, or make light of sexual immorality.
  • Ultimately, God prohibits sexual worship—the idolization of sex and infatuation with sexual activity as a fundamental means to personal fulfillment.
  • None of us are innocent of sexual immorality, and none of us are immune to it.
  • We live in a day when saying that heterosexual or homosexual activity is immoral is equivalent to saying a white or black person is inferior. But this line of thought is fundamentally flawed, for it denies the obvious distinction between ethnic identity and sexual activity. Ethnic identity is a morally neutral attribute. However, sexual activity is a morally chosen behavior.
  • We do not always choose our temptations. But we do choose our reactions to those temptations.
  • The Bible is clear and consistent, affirming with one voice from cover to cover that homosexual activity is sexual immorality before God.
  • The reality is that as soon as we advocate homosexual activity, we undercut biblical authority. And in the process of undercutting the authority of the Bible, we are undermining the integrity of the entire gospel. For if the Bible is wrong about certain issues, then who is to say what else the Bible is wrong about?
  • In our thinking, we actually begin to believe that our ways are better than God’s. We take this created gift called sex and use it to question the Creator God, who gave us the gift in the first place. We replace God’s pattern with our preferences, exchanging what God’s Word says about sexuality for what our observation and experience say about it. Yet we’re blind to our own foolishness. It’s as if we’re living out Proverbs 14:12—“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” The real danger here is our claim to know better than God what is best for our bodies and to justify sexual sin as a result.
  • Whether we are men or women, and whether we have heterosexual or homosexual attractions, we all possess sinful sexual desires. We all have darkened hearts that tempt us toward fulfilling those desires outside of marriage between a man and a woman. We all have disordered thoughts that are prone to explain and excuse acting upon those desires, even twisting God’s Word to make it say what we want it to say. We are all personally, biologically, culturally, and spiritually predisposed toward sexual sin—some of us are simply predisposed in ways that are more culturally acceptable. In the end, every single one of us is a sexual sinner. And that means every single one of us is desperate for a Savior.
  • Oh, to think of it! That Jesus, God in the flesh, took the penalty upon himself for all our adultery and all our pornography and every single lust we have ever had or will ever have. Indeed, Jesus has paid a steep price for our bodies.
  • According to the gospel of God’s grace, humbly repentant sexual sinners will enter into heaven. But unrepentant sexual sin will ultimately lead to hell.
  • Rosaria Champagne Butterfield was once a feminist scholar who delighted in disparaging the Bible and all who believe it. Through the compassionate engagement of a pastor who gently responded to a critical editorial she had written in a local newspaper, she saw and heard the gospel. This pastor and his wife showed God’s love to her. She started reading the Bible and wrestling with the question, “Did I really want to understand homosexuality from God’s point of view, or did I just want to argue with him?” This crisis of faith led her to what she describes as “one ordinary day” when she came to Christ. For her to come to Christ was to leave behind not only her lover but her entire lifestyle. The call to follow Christ in Rosaria Butterfield’s life was not an invitation to receive anything she wanted in this world. It was a summons to leave behind everything she had.
  • As the church in our culture, we must make sure not to preach a gospel that merely imagines Christ as the means to a casual, conservative, comfortable Christian spin on the American dream. Such a gospel won’t work in the gay and lesbian community—or anywhere else, for that matter. The gospel is a call for every one of us to die—to die to sin and to die to self—and to live with unshakable trust in Christ, choosing to follow his Word even when it brings us into clear confrontation with our culture. Such death to self requires an examination of sexuality in all of us. In what ways are you specifically prone to sexual activity outside of marriage between a man and a woman?
  • Examine what you watch and what you wear.
  • God has not left you in the dark regarding what you should do. “Flee!” he says. “Stop reasoning with sexual immorality, stop rationalizing it, and run from it. Flee every form of sexual immorality as fast as you can!”
  • Whether we’re male or female, married or divorced, single or cohabiting, heterosexual or homosexual, each of us has turned to our own way. But the good news of the gospel is that God has laid the punishment for our sin upon his Son. And for all who daily turn from themselves and trust in him, he promises the peace and calm of Christ himself amid a cultural sea of sexual confusion.
  • Moreover, in that culture, God beckons us to proclaim this gospel. To care enough for one another to call each other to flee from every form of sexual immorality. Not to sit back and stay quiet because that’s more convenient in the culture (or even in the church).

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Movie Reviews and More…

While We're YoungWhile We’re Young, rated R
**

Josh (Ben Stiller) 44, and Cornelia (Naomi Watts) 42, have been married for several years. They seem comfortable, but in a bit of a rut in their marriage. They haven’t had a vacation for several years, and Josh has been working on his latest documentary for ten years. The film is frankly a mess and nowhere near completed. They don’t have any children. They have tried, but Cornelia has lost the babies due to miscarriages. Babies, or the lack thereof, is a theme throughout this film. Another theme is dealing with aging and professional jealousy.

Cornelia’s father Leslie (Charles Grodin) is a famed documentary film maker, and Cornelia has assisted her father with some of his work in the past. Josh’s relationship with his father-in-law is strained on Josh’s part because he has not lived up to Leslie’s accomplishments.

As the film begins we see Josh teaching a class. A young couple greets him after class. Jamie (Adam Driver) seems to be a fan, indicating that he has seen and appreciated Josh’s earlier film, which both surprises and pleases Josh. Jamie is with his wife Darby (Amanda Seyfried). Soon, Josh and Cornelia begin spending time with the much younger couple. Josh, more so than Cornelia, seems enthralled by them. Soon, the older couple starts doing more young things (Josh starts wearing a trendy hat and Cornelia takes hip-hop dance classes), which begins to distance them from their friends, many of whom have recently had babies. That includes their former best friends played by Maria Dizzia and Adam Horovitz (Ad-Rock of the Beastie Boys).

Jamie shares with Josh an idea for his own documentary and flatters Josh by asking him to assist him. By the end of the film you wonder if things are as they appear – what is true and what isn’t. The film confronts us with the question whether truth really matters or not.

The film is billed as a comedy, and for the first part of the film there are light and funny aspects as the older couple starts entering into the younger couple’s world. I enjoyed that part of the film and from the trailer I thought that was what the film was about. But about half way into the film it shifts away from the comedy and comes off feeling disjointed (a few different films within the one), especially as it gets heavier near the end.

The film features a strong cast (Stiller, Watts, Driver, Grodin and Seyfried), and is directed by Noah Baumbach. Driver appeared in his 2012 Frances Ha and Stiller in his 2010 Greenberg.

The film is rated “R” for language, which seemed forced, not at all fitting in with the context and the characters. The morals (truth telling, infidelity), of some of the characters are questionable as well. My rating of 2 is based on a 3 for the first comedic part of the film and a 1 for the last heavier part.

Watch the film’s trailer here:

Art and CraftArt and Craft, not rated
***

Over the weekend, I noticed that our local independent theatre was planning to show a film called Art and Craft next weekend. I looked it up and it looked interesting. It was available on Amazon Instant Video, so we checked it out. This is a fascinating documentary about a complicated man, 59 year-old (though he looks much older), Mark Landis. Landis has been forging famous pieces of art for more than 30 years and has duped 46 art museums in twenty states across the country until a curator he duped became obsessed with stopping him. Matthew Leininger was the Curatorial Department Head at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, but lost his job due to this obsession.

Landis has been called one of the most prolific art forgers in U.S. history. He is actually very talented, but rather than creating his own original art pieces, he copies a wide range of painting styles and periods that includes 15th Century Icons, Picasso and Walt Disney. One of the interesting things about him is that he isn’t in it for the money. Instead, posing as a variety of characters (philanthropic donor, grieving family member, Jesuit priest), he visits art museums across the country offering to donate the pieces. He also talks about possible future substantial donations to the museums. As a result, over the years, the museum professionals have accepted hundreds of pieces of the forged art, and in some cases have displayed the pieces in their institutions.

Landis is a hunched over, thin man suffering from mental illness (he has been diagnosed with schizophrenia). He is soft spoken, and often talks lovingly of his mother, who died two years earlier, with whom he seems to be obsessed. He lives alone, often watching old television programs or films as he eats his microwaved meals alone. The film shows him creating several of his pieces, framed with materials from Wal-Mart and Hobby Lobby.

Landis, who lives in Laurel, Mississippi, and has operated under several pseudonyms over the years, contends that he hasn’t done anything wrong or illegal. What are discerning viewers to think of Landis? It’s obvious that he has lied to many over the years about the truth of the pieces that he has presented them. Viewers are left to wonder if he is mentally ill, evil or both. Are we to feel sorry for him or wish that he was prosecuted, although because he did not accept any money he technically hasn’t committed a crime?

The film is directed by Sam Cullman and Jennifer Grausman, who paint a sympathetic picture of Landis. They became aware of Landis from a 2011 article in The New York Times about him.

Here is the trailer for the film:

How Discerning are You?

 A few weeks ago I wrote an article titled “Living an Intentional Life”. In that article I mentioned a few ideas that had been swirling around in my head:

  • To be more intentional about the books I read.
  • To be more intentional about the blogs I read.
  • To be more intentional about the time I spend with my wife.
  • To be more intentional about the television programs I watch.

Recently after reading my review of the film Danny Collins, a trusted friend asked me a question about one of those – the movies I watch and review on the blog. She asked “Don’t you think just by giving your money and your time to viewing movies with content like this you’re giving your stamp of approval?”

That’s a great question. If I give a positive review (three stars or better), with no qualifications, yes I do feel that I am giving the film my stamp of approval. In the case of Danny Collins, I gave the film a positive review with qualifications, based primarily on the excellent acting performances. The lead character did try to change his life and it was called redemption, but it was not the kind of redemption that is in Christ.  I was also able to isolate the scene containing nudity using helpful websites that I list below so that I could warn readers who wanted to see the film to watch with discernment.

In all I do I try to be intentional and discerning with how I spend my time – what I watch, read, who I spend time with, etc. Sometimes I’m more discerning than others. Watching the television program The Good Wife is an example of not being discerning enough. My wife and I decided to give the show a try because a lot of people were telling us that they enjoyed it. We enjoyed the show and started binge-watching it. However, the sexual content and worldview portrayed was abysmal. As the head of our household, I should have demonstrated more leadership and said that we shouldn’t be watching it, but I didn’t. In another instance I demonstrated better discernment when we did stop watching the first episode this season of Kevin Bacon’s The Following after about 10 minutes due to objectionable content. We’re done with that series.

Tammy and I love to go to movies. Since we were married almost 35 years ago we’ve gone to a movie most Friday nights as a part of our Date Night. However, most films have some level of objectionable content, be it language, sexuality, extreme violence or a worldview that we disagree with. And let’s face it, most faith based movies are usually poorly made, despite the intentions of those involved.

Over the years we have walked out of a few films that had objectionable content, and there are some we should have, such as 2014’s critics’ favorite Birdman. These days we do research on the film before deciding to see it. I usually start with Rotten Tomatoes to see what the critics and regular people like us have to say about the film. I also look to see what the rating is, and why it has been given that rating (language, sexual content, violence, etc.).

If I have more questions about the content issues, I’ll check a few sites that review films from a Christian perspective. The ones I most frequently check, and recommend to you are:

Plugged In
Kids in Mind
Movieguide
Christianity Today

One final thought – Kevin DeYoung’s excellent message “Do Not Love the World” from the 2015 Ligonier National Conference touches on some of these same thoughts. In discussing films that we watch with sexual content he asks us to imaging walking by a couple getting intimate on a park bench. He asks if we would pull up a chair and sit down and watch them, saying that is in effect what we do when we watch just that on screens “as big as our houses”. I’ve already listened to the message a few times, and recommend that you check it out here.

What do you think about this topic of discernment? How discerning are you with what you subject your eyes and heart to? Let us know.

Movie News

  • Blade Runner Sequel. Ryan Goslin is in negotiations to star with Harrison Ford in the sequel to the 1982 film.


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Movie Review ~ Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2

Paul Blart Mall Cop 2Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, rated PG
Zero Stars

We enjoyed 2009’s Paul Blart: Mall Cop, starring Kevin James, which made $146 million, with a budget of only $29 million. We’ve seen James in concert and he was funny and clean, a rarity for comedians these days. So we were looking forward to this sequel. However, with the film checking in at 0% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes.com, we didn’t have high hopes, and let’s just say, well, it lived down to our expectations.

After six years of keeping our malls safe, the portly and self-important mall cop Paul Blart (James) is invited to a security guard convention held at the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas. We’re told that he is no longer married and his mom has died since we last saw him (both stories are played for laughs). So Blart and daughter Maya (Raini Rodriguez) take off for Las Vegas, with Maya keeping some important information from her father.

While Paul is given reason to believe that he will be asked to give the keynote address at the convention banquet, Vincent (Neal McDonough) and his crew are stealing valuable artwork from the hotel. Maya enjoys spending time with Lane (David Henrie), an employee of the hotel, much to the chagrin of her overbearing father. There is also a silly storyline about the attractive Divina (Daniella Alonso) coming on to Blart throughout the film.

The film is directed by Andy Fickman and written by James and Nick Bakay. It includes a lot of physical humor from the Segway riding mall cop, but this film is anything but funny. I found myself looking at my watch and thinking of walking out – it was that bad. As far as objectionable content, there is no sexual content or profanity included. Rather, I found the entire film objectionable due to how bad it was. Once I saw it was associated with Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison production company I knew we were in trouble. Not even the usually likeable James can save this film. We wanted to like this film, and were hoping for a few good, clean laughs that weren’t shown in the film’s trailer, but that didn’t happen.  It is currently standing at the top of our ‘Worst Films of 2015′ list.  Do yourself a favor and stay away from this one. It will be on video soon enough.


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Music News and Reviews

Postcards from Paradise by Ringo StarrPostcards from Paradise – Ringo Starr
***

From the time I was eight years old I’ve loved the Beatles’ music, both as a band, and as solo artists. Ringo was the Beatles drummer from 1962 to 1970. This is his eighteenth solo studio album, along with several live albums and compilations. Last year I finally got to see Ringo and His All Starr Band in concert. It was a great evening as Ringo and the band really seemed to enjoy each other and performing for their fans.

This album features eleven new songs, and arrives just a few months before Ringo turns 75 years old on July 7. Ringo will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 18, appropriately by Paul McCartney, the only other surviving Beatle.

The album was produced by Ringo, engineered by longtime collaborator Bruce Sugar, and recorded at his home studio in Los Angeles. As on his previous albums, he is joined by a number of guest stars, such as Joe Walsh, Benmont Tench, Dave Stewart, Richard Marx, Peter Frampton, Nathan East and Glen Ballard. The album features the first song that Ringo has written and recorded with the members of his All Starr Band “Islands in the Sun” – Steve Lukather, Todd Rundgren, Gregg Rolie, Richard Page, Warren Ham and Gregg Bissonette, who plays percussion, trumpet and steel drums on the song.

Below are a few comments about each song:

“Rory and the Hurricanes” – another of Ringo’s songs about the past, which I particularly enjoy. Those songs actually date way back to “Early 1970”, the b-side of an early single. This song, co-written with Dave Stewart, pays tribute to the band Ringo was in prior to joining the Beatles in 1962 when he replaced Pete Best on drums. It is a rocker featuring a pounding piano and doo-wop girl-group backing vocals. The song begins in Liverpool and takes in an early visit to Soho’s Denmark Street with the band he refers to as “you know who”.

We were sleeping on the floor living on bread and jam
Because we thought we’d hit the big time
We didn’t give a d***
We were Rory and the Hurricanes

 “You Bring the Party Down” – co-written with Toto’s Steve Lukather. In this song, which includes a sitar, Ringo goes back and forth between a reggae-like feel and a driving rock beat. This has an uncharacteristically dark streak to it. It makes you wonder who he is singing about.

Still living off your memories of when you were in the band
When you’re around you bring the party down

 “Bridges” – features brother-in-law Joe Walsh on a guitar solo.
Down every road we come to bridges.
Crossing bridges is the best way to grow.

“Postcards from Paradise” – co-written with Todd Rundgren, this song creatively uses Beatle and solo song titles in the song lyrics with a George Harrison sound-alike guitar solo thrown in for good measure. Ringo also plays keyboards on this song. Here’s an example, with the song title in italics:

 It’s all too much my little child.
If you would be my honey pie
Eight days a week you will be mine
And getting better all the time

“Right Side of the Road” – is a positive, upbeat, feel-good song. Features guitar work from Ringo and Peter Frampton. Ringo encourages the listener to choose another direction and “try it on the right side on the right side of the road. “

“Not Looking Back” – a loving tribute to Barbara, his wife of nearly 34 years. Features violin work from Ann Marie Simpson.

“Bamboula” – co-written with Van Dyke Parks. Ringo has said that they were trying to create the impression of a marching band, so he played every drum that he had in the studio, including three huge, hundred-year-old drums that Joe Walsh sent him from Africa. The title comes from the bamboula, a drum that Africans were playing 200 years ago. Ringo plays a syncopated New Orleans–inspired snare/tom rhythm, and the song includes some horns and background vocals.

“Island in the Sun” – the first song written by the entire All-Starr Band. Features some good sax work and background vocals with a Caribbean groove.

Don’t worry about the future
Don’t forget about the past
Don’t really matter where I’ve been or what I’ve done
I keep searching for the island in the sun

“Touch and Go” – the closest to an early Beatles sound on the album. Ringo wrote the song with his longtime collaborator Gary Burr. The song is an upbeat song with an effective guitar solo, in which Ringo sings about new love:

I knew from the moment we said hello
It had to be more than touch and go.

“Confirmation” – features guitar work by Steve Dudas, who has been contributing to Ringo’s albums for several years. It’s a positive song that features a laid-back Motown groove, with an effective use of horns and background vocals. This could be another song about wife Barbara.

If I knew then what I know now
I do it all again with you anyhow

“Let Love Lead” – features Frampton and Gary Nicolson on guitars. Was reportedly considered as the title song for album. A strong closing song with the simple positive message of “let love lead”.

Ringo’s effective drumming is mixed prominently throughout this release and his vocals sound as good as ever. Several of these songs will sound good live. I thoroughly enjoyed this album.

 Van Morrison DuetsDuets: Reworking the Catalogue – Van Morrison
****

I was first attracted to the now 69 year-old Van Morrison’s music when I heard his song “Whenever God Shines His Light” with Cliff Richard on Christian radio in 1989. That song, as well as “When Will I Learn to Live in God”? were included on Morrison’s excellent album Avalon Sunset. Although his later albums haven’t had the same spiritual flavor, I’ve enjoyed each of his albums since, and have seen him perform in one of his rare U.S. concerts.

In general, I’m not a fan of duet albums, live albums or “Greatest Hits” albums, instead preferring all new music from the artists I like. As a result, I wasn’t overly excited when I first heard about this new album. But it is a very good album which reminds me of John Fogerty’s 2013 I Wrote a Song for Everyone in concept, though Fogerty tended to focus on his most popular songs, while Morrison’s album focuses on some of his lesser known songs.

The 16 song album got its start when Morrison, the late Bobby Womack (whose appearance on “Some Peace of Mind” is one of his final studio recordings), Mavis Staples and Natalie Cole played the BluesFest at the Royal Albert Hall in London in 2013. Morrison recorded songs with each of them, and completed songs with the other guests over the next year. The album is produced by Morrison, Don Was and Bob Rock. In some cases Morrison had songs in mind for the guest artists and in other cases, such as Michael Buble with “Real, Real Gone”, the album’s first single, the artist had a particular song they wanted to record from the 360 songs in his catalog.

The songs date from 1970’s “If I Ever Needed Someone” with Mavis Staples to 2012’s Born to Sing” with Chris Farlowe. Most of the songs come from Morrison’s 1980’s and 1990’s albums. He has said that the project was about both the fun of singing with artists he admires and also going back to songs that aren’t so well known.

Other artists who joined Morrison for the project include Stevie Winwood, Mark Knopfler, Georgie Fame, Morrison’s daughter Shana Morrison, Simply Red’s Mick Hucknall, Taj Mahal, Clare Teal, PJ Proby (who joins Morrison for “Whatever Happened to PJ Proby”), Gregory Porter, George Benson (who Morrison recorded “Higher Than the World” live with Bensons’ band) and Joss Stone. Some of the artists I was very familiar with and a few I had not heard of before this album.

The album features the superb vocals of Morrison and his hand-picked guests, is well produced and the musicianship stellar. Since this album has come out I’ve been going back to listen to a lot of Morrison’s earlier music. I hope the new album results in others doing the same.

MUSIC NEWS:

  • “Ima Just Do It” from KB. Listen to KB’s new song from his upcoming album, featuring two times Masters champion golfer Bubba Watson. KB’s new album Tomorrow We Live will be released April 21. You can listen to it in its entirety this week on iTunes Radio First Play. Check it out!
  • Matt Redman Unbroken PraiseNew Matt Redman Album. Unbroken Praise, which was recently recorded live in the Abbey Road studios in London, will be released June 16.
  • Famous Irish Sons Pay Tribute to Their Amazing Dads. U2’s Bono is among the men who have paid tribute to their fathers for the Irish Hospice Foundation. They have all contributed a photo of themselves with their dads, and a piece of writing about their relationship, for the Irish Hospice Foundation book, Sons and Fathers.
  • Paul’s Letter to the Romans Set to Music. Trevin Wax interviews Cody Curtis, a composer and the Worship Arts Director at Union University. Curtis has completed a new album based on Paul’s letter to the Romans.
  • Millennials and Reconciliation. Here is the video of Trip Lee’s talk from the ERLC Summit on the Gospel and Racial Reconciliation. The transcript from the message is also included.
  • Lecrae on GMA. Did you see Lecrae perform “All I Need is You” recently on Good Morning America?
  • “Welcome to America” Video. Here’s Lecrae’s video for “Welcome to America” from his Anomaly album.
  • Before This World - James TaylorNew James Taylor Album. James Taylor returns with Before This World on June 16. This is first album of new songs since October Road, released in 2002 – yes, 13 years ago! Recorded primarily at The Barn in Western Massachusetts, the 10-track album will feature James’s legendary Band: Jimmy Johnson, Steve Gadd, Michael Landau, Larry Goldings, Luis Conte, Andrea Zonn, Arnold McCuller, David Lasley and Kate Markowitz, as well as special guests Yo-Yo Ma and Sting. If you pre-order the album, you get the download for the first single “Today, Today, Today”. Taylor played that song, as well as three others from the new album when we saw him in a June 27, 2014 concert at the Ravinia Festival. Can’t wait for the new album.
  • Rory and the Hurricanes Ringo Starr talks about the new song from his album Postcards from Paradise in which he sings about the band he was in before he joined the Beatles.
  • Ethan Hawke and Jimmy Fallon do Bob Dylan Lullabies. Did you see this recently on The Tonight Show?

  QUOTES:

  • You can try to kill my hope and place it in a grave but it won’t stay there. Jesus lives. Lecrae
  • The resurrection doesn’t just give us hope because it’s a nice story. It gives us life because it really happened. Trip Lee
  • Sometimes racism may be more subtle than it used to be, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less sinful. Trip Lee


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Book Reviews and News

Book Reviews

Amazing Grace by Eric Metaxas. HarperOne. 320 pages. 2007. Audiobook read by Johnny Heller.
****

Amazing Grace - Eric MetaxasEric Metaxas is one of my favorite authors. Of the four books of his that I have read, three have been biographies. His 2013 book Seven Men: And Their Secrets of Greatness features a much shorter biography of Wilberforce than provided here. This book was the official tie-in book to the 2006 film Amazing Grace, which was made to coincide with the 200th anniversary of Parliament’s anti-slave trade legislation.

This book tells the amazing story of the man who was responsible for first the abolition of the slave trade in Britain and ultimately the abolishment of slavery there altogether. Metaxas tells Wilberforce’s story weaving in a number of characters such as John Newton (who would see him as a son), John Wesley, Henry Thornton (his cousin and closest friend), William Pitt (who would become the youngest Prime Minister at 24 years of age), Granville Sharp, Charles Middleton, Thomas Clarkson, Hannah Moore (a popular writer), and many, many more.

Wilberforce changed history, but is largely forgotten today. Metaxas gives us a detailed look at the life of who he refers to as perhaps the greatest social reformer the world has known. At the height of his political career, God would get ahold of Wilberforce and change his life.

Wilberforce began his political career in 1780 when he was elected to Parliament at age 21. His social standing improved, resulting in him being invited to many social clubs, where he would show off his excellent singing voice and enjoy drinking and dancing. Wilberforce would later look at these years as years he wasted. He would use his powerful voice to become a great orator.

Wilberforce went through a gradual conversion experience, much like Augustine, rather than the sudden conversion of the Apostle Paul. Thinking that he needed to go into full-time Christian ministry, Wilberforce felt he would need to leave politics. But John Newton and William Pitt would encourage him to stay in Parliament and use his influence to do good, which he agreed to do.

After being born again, he would have new attitudes about money and time. He resigned from all five of the social clubs he belonged to. He returned to Methodism to the chagrin of his mother.

Wilberforce’s focus would become twofold: the suppression of the slave trade, and the reformation of manners (habits or attitudes). British society at that time was vulgar and violent. Twenty-five percent of the unmarried women were involved in prostitution. Wilberforce wished to bring self-respect and civility into the society.

Wilberforce would come to the point where he felt that abolition was the cause God was calling him to devote his life to. His work to abolish the slave trade would take 26 years until the passage of the Slave Trade Act of 1807. During this time he would receive many death threats.

In 1797 Wilberforce would publish a book on the Christian faith and the state of what it was in British society. The 37 year old Wilberforce would meet 20 year old Barbara Spooner, 20 and newly serious about religion. They were married less than a month after meeting and would go on to have six children.

Wilberforce stood only 5’3”, and suffered from lifelong stomach problems, resulting in him using opium much of his adult life.  His deteriorating health (eyesight, curvature of the spine, etc.), would lead him to appoint Thomas Buxton to take the lead in the emancipation fight. Wilberforce announced his retirement in 1825.

Among Wilberforce’s many other accomplishments was leading the crusade against cruelty to animals, British missionary work in India and the creation of a free colony in Sierra Leone. Wilberforce would give away much money over his lifetime – to help the poor, etc. At the end of his life he was nearly destitute. He and Barbara would end his life without a home of his own, living with their sons, both ministers.

Emancipation was finally approved just three days before Wilberforce’s death with the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833. A year later 800,000 slaves would be freed as a result.

I encourage you to read this well-written book about the little man who has made such a big difference in history.

BOOK NEWS:

  • New Rosaria Butterfield Book. Openness Unhindered: Further Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert on Sexual Identity and Union with Christ will be released July 1. You can pre-order now.
  • A Martyn Lloyd-Jones Reading Guide. Jeff Robinson provides a helpful guide to reading various collections of Martyn Lloyd-Jones sermons and other books about his life and ministry.
  • Galatians: Selections from Martin Luther. R.J. Grunewald announces the launch of a new eBook that he’s been designing and editing in order to share for free with the world – Galatians: Selections from Martin Luther.
  • 125 Free Christian e-books. Check out this excellent selection of free e-books, including several from John Piper and R.C. Sproul.

 Reading Together Week 6

Counter Culture by David PlattCounter Culture: A Compassionate Call to Counter Culture in a World of Poverty, Same-Sex Marriage, Racism, Sex Slavery, Immigration, Abortion, Persecution, Orphans and Pornography by David Platt.

David Platt, author of Radical, has written an important new book. So important, I believe, that rather than doing one book review, I’m reviewing the content chapter by chapter. Note, all of Platt’s royalties from this book will go toward promoting the glory of Christ in all nations.

Each chapter concludes by offering some initial suggestions for practical requests you can pray in light of these issues, potential ways you might engage culture with the gospel, and biblical truths we must proclaim regarding every one of these issues. These suggestions will also direct you to a website www.counterculturebook.com/resources, where you can explore more specific steps you might take.

This week we look at Chapter 6: A Profound Mystery: The Gospel and Marriage

  • Census figures project that nearly half of all first marriages will end in divorce and that’s if men and women even decide to marry. The number of cohabiting couples in our culture has nearly quadrupled over the last thirty years as more and more singles postpone or put aside marriage altogether.
  • Behold the beauty of God’s design for man, woman, and marriage. Two dignified people, both molded in the image of their Maker.
  • Two diverse people, uniquely designed to complement each other. A male and a female fashioned by God to form one flesh, a physical bond between two bodies where the deepest point of union is found at the greatest point of difference. A matrimony marked by unity in diversity, equality with variety, and personal satisfaction through shared consummation.
  • God created the marriage relationship to point to a greater reality. From the moment marriage was instituted, God aimed to give the world an illustration of the gospel.
  • Marriage, according to Ephesians 5, pictures Christ and the church.
  • God designs husbands to be a reflection of Christ’s love for the church in the way they relate to their wives, and God designs wives to be a reflection of the church’s love for Christ in the way they relate to their husbands.
  • One of the effects of sin in Genesis 3 is the tendency for a man to rule his wife in a forceful and oppressive way that denigrates woman’s equal dignity with him.
  • One of the primary reasons why submission and headship are such unpopular and uncomfortable terms for us today—because we’ve seen the dangerous ways these ideas have been exploited.
  • Husbands, love your wives not because of who they are, but because of who Christ is. He loves them deeply, and our responsibility is to reflect his love.
  • Husbands, realize what is at stake here: you and I are representing Christ to a watching world in the way we love our wives.
  • What pictures are our marriages giving to our culture about Christ’s relationship with his church?
  • God’s Word is subtly yet clearly pointing out that God has created women with a unique need to be loved and men with a unique need to be respected.
  • Wives, see yourselves in a complementary, not competitive, relationship with your husband. Yield to leadership in love, knowing that you are representing the church’s relationship to Christ. If you disrespect your husband, you show the world that the church has no respect for Christ.
  • If you are single, for the sake of the gospel, don’t sleep around with any man or woman who is not your husband or wife.
  • All of this is good for us. It is good for husbands to lay down their lives for their wives, and in losing their lives, to find them, just as Jesus promised (see Matthew 10:38-39). Moreover, it is good for wives to receive this love and respect their husbands. I have yet to meet a wife who didn’t want to follow a husband who was sacrificially loving and serving her. Finally, it is good for a single man and a single woman to join together in a supernatural union that God designed to satisfy them both. Yet as long as they remain single (which may be their entire lives, as it was for Christ and has been for many Christians throughout history), it is good to maximize such singleness through purity before God and with a passion to spread the gospel.
  • For these reasons, it is altogether right to be grieved about the redefinition of marriage in our culture. So-called “same-sex marriage” is now recognized as a legitimate entity in the eyes of our government. Such a designation by a government, however, does not change the definition God has established. The only true marriage in God’s eyes remains the exclusive, permanent union of a man and a woman, even as our Supreme Court and state legislatures deliberately defy this reality. Without question, we are living in momentous days—momentous in devastating ways.
  • Ultimately, we do not look to any court or government to define marriage. God has already done that, and his definition cannot be eradicated by a vote of legislators or the opinions of Supreme Court justices. The Supreme Judge of creation has already defined this term once and for all.

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This & That and Favorite Quotes

This and That

IN THE NEWS ~ CURRENT EVENTS:Kenya

  • The FAQs: Terrorist Attack in Kenya Targets Christians. Joe Carter provides an overview of the tragic terrorist attack in Kenya
  • Rolling Stone and the Culture of Lying. Russell Moore writes “Behind this scandal is a larger point. In our society, it’s become acceptable to lie about people and ideas, as long as the crisis created is in line with a perceived social good.”
  • President Obama Hints at Disappointment With Christians at Easter Breakfast. The President stated ““On Easter, I do reflect on the fact that as a Christian, I am supposed to love. And I have to say that sometimes when I listen to less than loving expressions by Christians, I get concerned,” President Obama said, before theatrically stopping himself. “But that’s a topic for another day.”
  • Interview With a Christian. Ross Douthat, author of Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics, writes in the New York Times “After watching the debate about religious freedom unfold over the past week, I decided to subject myself to an interview by an imaginary — but representative — member of the press.”
  • Why Obama isn’t on Fortune’s World’s Greatest Leaders list. Fortune Magazine’s list of the World’s Greatest Leaders, for the second year in a row, excludes the current President.
  • This is How Religious Liberty Dies — The New Rules of the Secular Left. Albert Mohler writes “The real issue here is not the RFRA in Indiana, or Arkansas, or another state. The real issue is the fact that the secular Left has decided that religious liberty must now be reduced, redefined or relegated to a back seat in the culture.”
  • Gospel. Life. Ministry. Free Online Event. On May 11, The Gospel Project will be sponsoring a free online event with more than a dozen pastors, teachers, and church leaders exploring the gospel and its implications in our lives and ministries. Speakers include John Piper, Matt Chandler, David Platt and Trip Lee.
  • Why do Reports Conceal Radicalism of the Pro-Choice Side? Denny Burk writes “What The New York Times report and The Washington Post blog fail to understand is that abortion-on-demand is legal in this country through all nine months of pregnancy. That is what Roe v. Wade and its companion decision Doe v. Bolton establish.”
  • Shocking Research Claims Wisdom Comes with Age. Eric Metaxas writes “The elderly may not have the quickest minds or understand the latest gadgets, but they do have something young minds sorely need: it’s called wisdom.”
  • Hugh Jackman Signed to Portray the Apostle Paul. Jackman has been signed for the leading role in the film Apostle Paul. Jackman will work as a producer on the project too, a position he will share with both Ben Affleck and Matt Damon.
World Magazine Cartoon

COURTESY OF WORLD MAGAZINE

SEXUAL ETHICS:

To love is to give yourself to another. To lust is to want to take from another. Love gives, lust takes. Burk Parsons

Under every behavioral sin is the sin of idolatry. Martin Luther

  • Why is a Wedding Any Different? Kevin DeYoung writes “As painful as it may be for us and for those we love, celebrating and supporting homosexual unions is not something God or his word will allow us to do.”
  • On the Ethics of Sexual Attraction (Same-Sex and Otherwise). Denny Burk writes “My contention is that the Bible speaks a clear word about our experience of sexual attraction be it heterosexual, homosexual, or otherwise. Whenever we desire something that God forbids, we are experiencing an “attraction” that is sinful and that God would have us to repent of.”
  • Obama Calls for End to ‘Conversion’ Therapies for Gay and Transgender Youth. Michael D. Shear of the New York Times writes “President Obama is calling for an end to such therapies aimed at “repairing” gay, lesbian and transgender youth. His decision on the issue is the latest example of his continuing embrace of gay rights.”
  • Sometimes Flight Is the Best Fight. Jon Bloom writes “Don’t try to reason with your sin-infected appetites. An aroused appetite is almost always unreasonable. When a desire is awakened in you to indulge in some sin, your best defense is often escape.”

Quote: The big issue for Christians is not “conversion therapy” but conversion theology–in which we have an infinite investment. Albert Mohler

SPORTS:

CHRISTIAN LIVING:

  • Yes, You Can Please Your Father. Kevin DeYoung writes “Sometimes Christians can give the impression that pleasing God is a sub-biblical motivation.” He goes on to state “One of the principal motivations for holiness is the pleasure of God.”
  • Resurrection and Justification. R.C. Sproul looks at how the resurrection of Christ linked to the idea of justification in the New Testament.
  • The Fall-Out of Failed Marriages. John Mac Arthur writes “The best way to defend and uphold God’s design for marriage and family is not through political or legal action—it’s through the living testimony of a faithful, righteous adherence to God’s design. The watching world needs to see the necessity of God’s design lived out in our daily lives.”
  •  7 Ways to Grow in the Art of Communication. Joel Beeke writes “We need to understand that communication is an art that we all must learn better. It does not come naturally. Here are seven principles to help you to grow in this art, that you might teach your children.”
  • Your Brain on Multitasking. Our brains on multitasking aren’t nearly as good as we think they are.

PRAYER:

  • The A-Z of Prayer. David Murray writes “What is prayer? Here’s a unique answer found in the papers of the puritan Philip Henry, father of the Bible Commentator, Matthew Henry.”
  • Marriage and the Supreme Court: A Call to Prayer. Russell Moore writes “Let’s pray that the Court gets this right and stays within the limits of its authority—recognizing that the state did not create the family, and cannot recreate it. And at the same time let’s pray with confidence in the knowing that regardless of how the Court decides, on the other side of our culture wars there is a sexual counter-revolution waiting to be born—again.”

COURAGE IN THE FACE OF FEAR:

  • Quiet the Fear, Do the Work. Jon Bloom writes “To do “the work” requires courage. And courage is doing what we know needs to be done despite the fact that we are afraid to do it. Courage does not allow fear to fill the post of General-in-Chief in our minds and hearts, in our belief and behavior.”
  • Freed from the Fear of Death. Larry Hoop writes “The enslavement is not to death itself, but to the fear. It is the anticipation of death that enslaves.”

CHURCH LIFE:

  • Nine Traits of Church Bullies. Thom Rainer writes “Church bullies have always been around. But they seem to be doing their work more furiously today than in recent history. Perhaps this look at nine traits of church bullies can help us recognize them before they do too much damage.”
  • Who the Unchurched Really Are. Gene Veith writes “As Robert Putnam reminds us, the demographic that is the most unchurched is the working class, the lower income non-college-educated folks.  A big segment of these blue-collar workers has just stopped going to church.
  • Why You Need to Sing Loudly in Church. Keith Getty shares five reasons you have no choice but to sing in church on Sunday.
  • What is the Sabbath? Randy Alcorn asks “What is the Sabbath and what does it mean for Christians today?” He offers some helpful resources related to the question.
As seen in CT Entertainment. Seriously?

As seen in CT Entertainment. Seriously?

 FFavorite Quotesavorite Quotes of the Week ~ 4.12.2015

R.C. Sproul and R.C. Sproul, Jr.:

Now that Hillary Clinton is officially running for President I am officially not going to vote for her. It’s official. R.C. Sproul Jr.

No matter what obeisance the state may demand, we who serve the King are free indeed. R.C. Sproul Jr.

  • If you don’t know you’re in a state of grace, then you’re vulnerable to the paralysis of the accusations of the enemy. R.C. Sproul
  • Why do those who keep insisting Jesus hung out with sinners also keep insisting there’s no such thing as sin? R.C. Sproul
  • The resurrection was God the Father’s way of authenticating all of the truths that were declared by Jesus. R.C. Sproul
  • We have to find in Christ, not a mask that conceals our face, but an entire wardrobe of clothing, which is His righteousness. R.C. Sproul

Kevin DeYoung:

  • Blue Devils may have won today. Devil gonna lose tomorrow. Kevin DeYoung (after Duke won on the night before Easter)
  • We do not truly know what love is unless we know Christ. Kevin DeYoung
  • When “everything is awesome” we may miss what (and Who) is truly deserving of awe. Kevin DeYoung
  • God is still here, God is still real, and God has not gone anywhere, even if you have. Kevin DeYoung
  • Sanctification will be drudgery unless we believe that holiness is possible and that it is pleasing to God. Kevin DeYoung

Tim Keller:

  • Do you realize that it is only in the gospel of Jesus Christ that you get the verdict before the performance? Tim Keller
  •  Jesus as only an example will crush you; you will never be able to live up to it. But Jesus as the Lamb will save you. Tim Keller
  • The gospel frees us from the relentless pressure of having to prove ourselves and secure our identity through work. Tim Keller

Tullian Tchividjian:

  • When Martin Luther was asked what we contribute to our salvation, he said, “Sin and resistance.” Tullian Tchividjian
  • What kind of person should you be to someone who has fallen? The kind of person you will run to when you fall. Tullian Tchividjian

Scotty Smith:

  • If we do nothing “more,” with the rest of our lives, than love Jesus and point people to him, it will have been a life well lived. Scotty Smith
  • Listen a little deeper and linger a little longer. Overlook as much as possible and encourage as often as you can. Scotty Smith

Spurgy:

  • Let gratitude be awakened; let humility be deepened; let love be quickened. Charles Spurgeon
  • I am certain that the safest way to defend your character is never to say a word about it. Charles Spurgeon

Others:

  • When people praise you, don’t let it go to your head. When they criticize you, don’t let it go to your heart. C.J. Rhodes
  • We can tell if we’re growing in theology if we’re growing more childlike in our faith, not more arrogant and self-righteous. Burk Parsons
  • There is a vast difference between merely knowing about Christ and actually knowing Him–the difference between heaven and hell. Steven Lawson
  • Faith is a refusal to panic, come what may. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
  • That sorrow for sin that keeps the soul from looking towards the mercy seat is a sinful sorrow. Thomas Brooks
  • To know the will of God we need an open Bible and an open map. William Carey
  • The reason the universe is vastly disproportionate to man’s size is that it is telling the glory of God, not the glory of man. John Piper
  • We have a strange illusion that mere time cancels sin. C.S. Lewis
  • Your life as a Christian should make nonbelievers question their disbelief in God. Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  • The Bible comes both to warn and to encourage and always to turn us again to the Lord Jesus Christ. Alistair Begg
  • Only what God has commanded in his word should be regarded as binding; in all else there may be liberty of actions. John Owen
  • Life is about Jesus. We are not here to tell our story, but His. We are here to live His story, not ours. Francis Chan
  • The gospel tells a story about a good God who created and rules over all, bringing salvation out of the misery we have brought on ourselves. Michael Horton
  • The hardest part of the day is all the stuff after I open my eyes in the morning. Jim Gaffigan
Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael

Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael


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Integrating Faith and Work: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith-and-Work

  • Duke’s Coach K’s Secret to Leadership Success. Coach K (Mike Krzyzewski) recently won his fifth NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship, second only to the legendary John Wooden. He discussed the importance of trust in leadership success.
  • Compromise and Character in the Workplace. Art Lindsley writes “There are also inevitable consequences to building your house on the sand either in this life or the next. The career you build will only be as solid as the kind of foundation you establish. That invests each choice with real significance.”
  • The Rhythm of Life. Edward Welch writes “Sometimes work seems futile and miserable; sometimes we might not have work; and sometimes we might not want work. In other words, there are times when there is no rhythm to our vocational life but only monotonous and persistent dreariness.
  • Entitlement: Whose Problem is It? C Patton writes “We are all spoiled and, to some degree, guilty of entitlement ourselves. Forget the employees or coworkers that frustrate us with this behavior. There is more than enough opportunity for improvement right here in the mirror to last for a while.”
  • Three Lies I Have Believed. Dave Kraft writes “There are truths I believe that enable me to move forward in trust and confidence and there are lies I believe that hold me down and hold me back. Here are three lies I have believed.”
  • 3 Ways Leaders Handle the Pain of Leadership. Alan Zimmerman shares three additional characteristics of effective leaders.
  • How God Defines Success. Nathan Busenitz writes “if success is defined from God’s perspective, where faith in Christ and faithfulness to Him is what matters most, then the men and women of Hebrews 11 not only understood what true success is, they applied that understanding to every aspect of their lives.”
  • When Faith Meets Work. Matt Smethurst writes “We don’t have enough understanding of our faith, and we don’t have enough understanding of our work. So suggests Katherine Alsdorf in a new roundtable video with Carolyn McCulley and Bethany Jenkins.”
  • Bring Back Childhood Chores: How Hard Work Cultivates Character. Joseph Sunde writes “We as parents and citizens have a responsibility and opportunity to raise up children who understand work and economic exchange for what it really is: not a mere means for material gain and elevated status, but service to others and thus to God.”
  • The Most Important Step to Finding Your Calling. Dan Cumberland writes “Finding your life’s calling begins with making space. Before you choose a specific way to make your impact —before finding your passion —you may need to create the space for possibilities.”
  • Servant Leadership and Strategic Thinking. Eric Geiger writes “Martin Luther said, “a Christian man is the most free lord of all, and subject to none; a Christian man is the most dutiful servant of all, and subject to everyone.” We are servants first because He first served us. But we don’t serve well if we enable unnecessary chaos.”
  • Is Driving School Buses Kingdom Business? Bethany Jenkins writes “We need more people like Margaret—Christians who aren’t desperately trying to change the world, but who are excited to change their world—whether that’s driving school buses in northern Alabama or closing deals on Wall Street. We need people who are faithfully present in their work, listening to the needs of their neighbors, and working distinctively to change their culture—especially when that change is imperceptible. These are the culture makers who are changing the world. And this, indeed, is kingdom business.”
  • 11 Key Ways a Younger Leader can Gain Credibility. Brad Lomenick discusses the Credibility Theory. He writes that it “Starts with an equation, since I was a math minor in college….. Ultimately, credibility is this: C = T x (E + E). Credibility = Time (multiplied) by Experience + Expertise.”
  • Leadership Lessons from Ruth. John Maxwell continues with the rest of the lessons we can learn from Ruth (from his new book Wisdom from Women in the Bible). This time, he focuses on leadership.
  • 21 Irrefutable Reasons Why Jesus is the Greatest Leader of All Time. Paul Sohn, in the spirit of John Maxwell’s classic book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, offers these 21 reasons.
  • John Maxwell on Talent. In this “Minute with Maxwell”, John Maxwell looks at the word talent.
  • 4 Root Idols that Corrupt Leaders. This article from Eric Geiger hits too close to home as two of my idols are comfort and control, two of the four he writes about here. Ouch.
  • A Minute Can Change Everything. On May 5, The New One Minute Manager, a new book based on the 1982 business classic, written by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson will be released.
  • Permission to Fail. Megan Pacheco writes “Fear of failure is a huge factor in the way we lead and follow. There is this notion that all failure is bad. In reality, unless we are willing to overcome the fears and be okay with failure, we will never know the opportunities set before us.”
  • Low Cost People Development. Mark Miller shares a few ideas on how to develop people with a small budget for development. I appreciated this from Dan Rockwell, the “Leadership Freak”:

 LEADERSHIP QUOTES

  • In leadership, there are no words more important than trust. In any organization, trust must be developed among every member of the team if success is going to be achieved. Coach K  (Mike Krzyzewski)
  • I believe God gave us crises for some reason—and it certainly wasn’t for us to say that everything about them is bad. A crisis can be a momentous time for a team to grow—if a leader handles it properly. Coach K
  • Aspire for progress, hunger for success, and strive for greatness. Coach K
  • Diligence is Excellence over Time. Super successful people are Excellent in the Ordinary Every Day. Dave Ramsey
  • Is there something in your life you’re tempted to give up on? Persist without exception! Andy Andrews
  • The more I read the Bible, the more evident it becomes that everything I have ever taught or written about effective leadership over the past 25 years, Jesus did to perfection. He is simply the greatest leadership role model of all time. Ken Blanchard
  • Employees will forgive and forget a leader’s errors in judgment, but they will never forget his lack of integrity. Dr. Alan Zimmerman

 Faith and Work Book Clubs – Won’t you read along with us? The Conviction to Lead by Albert Mohler

The Conviction to Lead Book Club

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

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

Chapter 11 Leaders Are Communicators:

  • Leadership doesn’t happen until communication happens.
  • To be human is to communicate, but to be a leader is to communicate constantly, skillfully, intentionally, and strategically.
  • If a leader has to look for a message, his leadership is doomed.
  • The most powerful leaders are those whose beliefs function like an engine of meaning—pushing out words and messages and compelling communication.
  • If you don’t have a message, don’t try to lead. If you do have a message, your task is to communicate it effectively.
  • Communication is a form of warfare. The leader is always fighting apathy, confusion, lack of direction, and competing voices. The wise leader understands this warfare and enters it eagerly.
  • The effective leader aims for three essential hallmarks of powerful communication. The first is clarity. The goal of communication is not to impress but to convey meaning and purpose.
  • The second hallmark is consistency.
  • The third hallmark of powerful communication, courage. Communication requires courage for the very simple reason that, if your convictions mean anything at all, someone will oppose you. If opposition to your ideas and beliefs offends you, do not attempt to lead.
  • The effective leader understands that the message has to be communicated again and again and again.
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