Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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MOVIE REVIEW ~ Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

Mission Impossible;  Rogue NationMission Impossible: Rogue Nation, rated PG-13
****

The fifth film in the Mission Impossible series over nineteen years with Tom Cruise is also my top film of 2015 thus far. It is an exciting, well-made film right from the incredible opening scene, which will remind you of an opening sequence from a James Bond film. The film includes deception and betrayal, action scenes featuring car and motorcycle chases, a fight high above the stage of an opera, a scene underwater, beautiful scenery from London, Vienna, and Casablanca, a strong cast and a score featuring the familiar Mission Impossible music.

Cruise, who looks great and shows no sign of aging at 53, returns as Ethan Hunt. He and the IMF (Impossible Mission Force) team – Jeremy Renner as William Brandt, Simon Pegg as Benji Dunn and Ving Rhames as Luther Stickell – continue to pursue the Syndicate, an international rogue organization. In the opening scene Tom Cruise as Ethan climbs on the outside of a flying airplane (an Airbus A400M) without the use of special effects or a stunt double. At times he was suspended on the aircraft 5000 feet in the air. Cruise who tends to do his own stunts was injured 6 times during the making of the movie.

But back in the United States, the IMF is shut down by CIA Director Hunley (Alec Baldwin). Brandt then becomes a part of the CIA. Ethan is in London pursuing Solomon Lane, played by Sean Harris. This will be the last IMF mission, as Hunley is now pursuing Ethan. Rebecca Ferguson plays a major role as the British Ilsa Faust. Throughout the film you don’t know whose side she’s on. She’s working for Lane, but seems to help Ethan at times. Can she be trusted?

The film is written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie, who won an Oscar for writing The Usual Suspects in 1995, and has worked with Cruise in last year’s excellent Edge of Tomorrow, 2012’s Jack Reacher and 2008’s Valkyrie. The previous film’s (Ghost Protocol) director Brad Bird turned this film down to direct the boring Tomorrowland (big mistake). In fact, each of the five Mission Impossible films have had different directors.

The film earns it’s PG-13 rating from the violence you would expect in a Mission Impossible film. There is no sexual content and minimal adult language. It’s the perfect summer film to enjoy. Highly recommended!


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MOVIE REVIEW ~ The Wolfpack

The WolfpackThe Wolfpack, rated R
***

This documentary is directed by Crystal Moselle. It won the 2015 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize, and is most likely unlike any story you’ve ever seen before.

Moselle ran into six young men (the Angulo brothers, nicknamed the Wolfpack), wearing dark suits and sunglasses, on a New York City street. She asked them about their story which is told in this film, mostly through the boy’s own words.

The director found out that the boys had rarely been allowed to leave their family’s four bedroom apartment in a public housing complex in New York’s Lower East Side. One of the boys tells her that sometimes they would be able to leave nine times a year, sometimes only once.

The boy’s parents (Oscar and Susanne) met in South America. Oscar, their abusive father, doesn’t work, and distrusts the outside world. The boys were taught by Oscar to avoid others and stay indoors. They are homeschooled (it appears effectively), by Susanne, who talks about the bad socialization in schools. The father, a devotee of Hare Krishna, gave all of the children Sanskrit names, and they all have grown their hair very long.

Having their apartment as their entire world, the boys spend their time watching popular films (they have a collection of some 5,000 films), such as Pulp Fiction and The Dark Knight. They then creatively recreate the films in their apartment. We see some footage of that, along with some film from their childhood. Later in the film we see the boys, now between 11 and 18 years old, start to venture out into the real world and attending their first film in a theatre.

In many ways this was a heartbreaking film to watch. It’s hard to imagine these children living almost their entire lives in their New York City apartment. One wonders why their mother allowed this to happen. Although five of the boys are no longer on speaking terms with their father, they seem to have a close bond with each other.  We can recommend this film if you want to see young men triumph over adversity with their creative imaginations.

The film is rated “R” for adult language.


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MOVIE REVIEW ~ Paper Towns

Paper TownsPaper Towns, rated PG-13
**

The title of Paper Towns refers to a trick that mapmakers use – they will insert fake places (called copyright traps or paper towns) onto their maps to make sure no one is copying them. The film is directed by Jake Shreier, and is adapted from John Green’s 2008 Paper Towns and by The Fault in our Stars (also written by Green) screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber.

The film stars Nat Wolff as 17 year-old high school senior Quentin in Orlando, Florida (Wolff also portrayed Isaac in The Fault in Our Stars, which made $307 million internationally). His two best friends are Radar (Justice Smith) and Ben (Austin Abrams).

Quentin has had a crush on neighbor Margo Roth Spiegelman, played by Cara Delevingne, ever since her family moved into the neighborhood. The two were inseparable when young, but have grown apart as Margo has gotten more popular. She’s now the most popular and mysterious girl in school. In real-life, Delevingne is also one of the highest paid models in the world. Shailene Woodley from The Fault in Our Stars, was originally cast as Margo, but had to drop out due to the clash of filming schedules with Insurgent.

After taking Quentin on an all-night vengeful adventure through Orlando (which she tells him will be the best night of his life), Margo suddenly disappears and leaves behind clues as to where she might be. She has always liked mysteries and clues, and has run away five times before. As a result, Margo’s mother isn’t concerned about her, but Quentin is, even though they had barely talked for nine years. He believes he knows from the clues he has found where Margo is. Time for a road trip just before Prom. Tagging along for the unplanned road trip are Ben, Radar and his girlfriend Angela (Jaz Sinclair), and Margo’s former best friend Lacey (Halston Sage), who’s worried about what might have happened to Margo.

The movie kept my interest and didn’t necessarily go the way I thought it would. The film shows the friendship of best friends Quentin, Ben and Radar, who will soon be going their separate ways to different colleges. It also includes some brief male nudity (played for laughs), a lot of teenage sexual dialogue, the abuse of God’s names several times, along with some adult language.

The movie was filmed over five days in the Skybrook neighborhood of Huntersville, NC (North of Charlotte) in mid to late November 2014. The author, John Green, who also serves as executive producer, makes a cameo as the voice of the shotgun-wielding father of Chuck. He states about his books, “Basically, I wanted a different definition of “paper towns” for each section of the book, each representing a different way of Quentin imagining Margo. In the first part, he’s viewing Margo very one-dimensionally. She’s paper-thin to him; she is nothing but the object of his affection. In the second part, he’s seeing a girl who’s half there and half not–so he’s thinking about her with more complexity but still not really thinking of her as a human being. In the final part of the novel, his complex imagining reconnects him to her, albeit not in the way he might’ve hoped.”

Patrick Lencioni Quote


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5 Ways to Build Trust at Work

Patrick Lencioni QuoteI’m increasingly reminded of the importance of trust in healthy work (and all), relationships. I’ve read books by authors such as Patrick Lencioni, Stephen M.R. Covey and Ken Blanchard on the subject over the past few years. Dave Kraft recently posted a helpful article entitled “I Don’t Trust You”, stating “When it comes to business, church and family (just about anything having to do with relationships), trust is critical. Probably one of the worst things anyone can say to another person is, ‘I don’t trust you.’”

In his book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, one of the most helpful books I’ve read and a book I refer to often, Lencioni states that trust is the foundation of real teamwork. Covey writes that the first job of a leader – at work or home – is to inspire trust. He states that regardless of the relationship – sports team, business or family, if you can’t trust one another there’s going to be trouble.

If trust is so important, how can we build and maintain it? Here are five ways:

  1. Start with trust. Ken Blanchard writes that trust is a delicate thing, taking a long time to build, but it can be lost in a matter of minutes. My parents often told me that it is the last thing that someone does that people remember you for. Think of the sad Bill Cosby situation, for example. In the expectations/philosophies document I send new team members I state “You have my trust – that is my starting point. You will have it unless you give me reason to withhold that trust”. Where do you begin in regards to trust?
  2. Maintain trust by developing strong relationships. Lencioni writes that like a good marriage, trust on a team is never complete but must be maintained over time. Covey states that in relationships of high trust we can say the wrong thing and people will still get our meaning. However, in relationships of low trust we can be very measured and precise but people will still misinterpret us. How do you build strong relationships so that you can maintain trust with your teams? See my article, “5 Ways to Know Your Team Members Better”.
  3. Show trust in action. Blanchard writes that today we hear a lot of talk about trust and even more about the lack of it. He states that people need to see trust in action more than they need to hear about it. What are some ways you show trust in action? For example, are you able to keep confidential things that people share with you? Do you keep your word and can people depend on it?
  4. Work hard to restore trust. Even if we start with trust, there are times we will do or say things that will damage trusting relationships. We need to work to restore that trust by being accountable and repentant. Lencioni states that the key ingredient to building trust is not time, but courage. Members of trusting teams admit weaknesses and mistakes to one another. A friend once told me that once trust is lost, she will never give it again. I don’t think that’s a healthy approach. What do you do when trust needs to be restored?
  5. Be intentional about maintaining trust. Demonstrate daily that those you work with can count on you. By consistently showing trustworthiness in action on a daily basis and over a long period of time, you make daily deposits into your trust account with each team member. How do you intentionally do that?

These are just a few thoughts on how to build and maintain trust at work. There are many, many more. What are you doing to build trust with those you work with?

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MUSIC NEWS and QUOTES

Music News:

  • This is Not a Test - Toby MacNew Toby Mac Album. This Is Not A Test, Toby Mac’s first album since Eye on It debuted at the top of the charts three years ago, will be released August 7. Four songs have been released thus far, and this looks to be one of the top releases of the year.
  • Andy Mineo Uncomfortable Tour. For those of you in the Midwest, you might want to check out Andy Mineo at the House of Blues in Chicago on October 17.
  • My Worth is Not in What I Own. Keith Getty writes “’My Worth Is Not in What I Own’ is a song that speaks to the subject of worth by reminding us that true significance is found in our identity in Christ.
  • All I Have is Christ. Tony Reinke interviews Bob and Jordan Kauflin about their hymn “All I Have is Christ”, which is one that we sing regularly in our church.

Music Quotes:music quote

  • Nothing will happen today that hasn’t first ran through the good intentions of the Sovereign God. So why worry? KB
  • Let’s be honest. No one is ever truly “just saying”.  Propaganda

Song of the Week

He’s All You Need by Steve Camp

This week we look at Steve Camp’s “He’s All You Need”, a song that was a blessing to me during Tammy’s serious illness early in our marriage. You can listen to the song here.

When you’re alone, your heart is torn, He is all you need.
When you’re confused, your soul is bruised, He is all you need.
He’s the rock of your soul, He’s the anchor that holds
Through your desperate time.
When your way is unsure His love will endure, a peace you will find
Through all your years, the joy, the tears, He is all you needSteve Camp

When you give in to that familiar sin, He is all you need
Guilt as you’re paralyzed, it slowly it eats you alive,
He is all you need
He’ll be faithful to you though your heart is untrue
And your love’s grown cold
His forgiveness is real, it’ll comfort and heal your sin-weary soul
Well, God loves you so, He’ll never let you go
He is all you need.

He’ll be faithful to you though your heart is untrue
And your love’s grown cold
His forgiveness is real, to comfort and heal your sin-weary soul
Through all your years, the joy, the tears, He is all you need.

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BOOK REVIEWS

Book Reviews

A Well Ordered ChurchA Well-Ordered Church: Laying a Foundation for a Vibrant Church by William Boekestein and Daniel R Hyde. Evangelical Press. 190 pages. 2015
***

This book is written by two pastors about organizing and running a Reformed church based on principles from Scripture and Reformed Confessions. It is well-written, and will be most helpful to pastors and elders as they read and discuss how to be a “well-ordered church”.

The authors state that the goal of the book is to bring us back to the basics of ecclesiology, or, the biblical doctrine of the church. They include helpful discussion questions and resources for further reading at the end of each chapter. The discussion questions will aid in applying the information included in the chapter, and will be helpful as church leadership teams discuss the book.

As an elder in a Presbyterian Church in American (PCA) church, I read this book with particular interest. The authors organized the book into four categories:

  1. Identity. What is the church in general? Who are we as a church in particular?
  2. Authority. On a practical level, from whom do we as a church receive our marching orders? How does a church make decisions?
  3. Ecumenicity. How should one church relate to other churches?
  4. Activity. What is our mission? What should we as a church be doing?

As I read the book I was mentally comparing how we organize and run our church with what the authors were saying. A few thoughts that I found particularly helpful or challenging were the following:

  • Do the pastors, elders, and deacons regularly visit their members to check up on their spiritual and physical well-being?
  • A well-ordered church is a teaching church, a worshiping church, a witnessing church, and a repenting church.
  • Worship is the goal of the church’s mission.
  • A current trend is to allow contemporary culture rather than Scripture to determine the manner of the church’s worship. Ironically, God specifically warns against this.
  • The practice of removing children from the worship service is a relatively new invention reflective of our consumer-driven culture with its desire for choice and specialization.
  • Missionaries should not be accountable to a board or network but to the leaders of an organized church of Christ.
  • The priority of the mission of the church over that of para-church organizations should also impact the way congregants and congregations tithe. Honest para-church organizations tell their audience that their first responsibility is to give to the local church.
  • Unfortunately, for many churches and Christians, evangelism and missions is an appendix rather than a core component of their task.
  • Non-witnessing churches are definitely not well-ordered.
  • There are a million and one causes that your local church could be supporting; but our priority should be to fund ordained ministers planting churches. This means that our congregations need to be allocating a sizeable portion of our spending to foreign missions.
  • Many of us don’t witness because we lack a method.
  • The church is a reflection of God. When rebellion is permitted in the church of God, his reputation suffers.

The authors include an Appendix on Foundational Principles of Reformed Church Government.

I found this book to be helpful. As Michael Horton writes, all readers may not agree with everything presented in the book. However, where you don’t, you will be challenged from Scripture and historic Reformed Confessions as to why you might disagree.

 Discovering God's Will by Sinclair FergusonDiscovering God’s Will by Sinclair Ferguson. Banner of Truth. 128 pages. 1982.
****

A few months ago Banner of Truth finally announced that they would begin offering some of their excellent books in an e-book format. That was great news for me as I almost exclusively read e-books on Kindle, while also listening to audiobooks. Sinclair Ferguson is one of my favorite authors/preachers, and I’ve seen him at Ligonier Ministries National Conferences since 1997 and read several of his books. This one is well worth reading in any format.

This books is about guidance. Ferguson states:

“There are three particular areas in which we form patterns of life which largely determine the whole course of life. We form patterns of behaviour—a life-style. We decide which occupation and career we will pursue. We decide to marry or not to marry. To each of these areas of vital concern, I have devoted a chapter. You will find principles which, when conscientiously applied to your own circumstances, will keep you in the pathway along which God’s will may be discovered. To that extent I have tried to deal with practical issues.”

Ferguson writes that he has tried to convey that we learn about guidance primarily by learning about the Guide. It is the knowledge of God and His ways with men which ultimately gives us stability in doing his will. His prayer is that the book will provide the reader some help and clarification about how God will guide us and perhaps be granted illumination on the very areas of our lives which perplex us at the moment.

For a short book, I highlighted a significant number of passages. I would like to share some of them with you below:

  • The very idea that God guides us implies that we live according to the path which he has laid down, that our lives have a purpose in the present, as well as a destiny for the future.
  • There is, in fact, no more basic question for us to ask than this: Will this course of action tend to further the glory of God? Is the glory of God the driving principle of our actions? If we do not seek his glory, we cannot be walking in the way of his blessing. If we seek his glory, then we can be sure that we shall discover his light shed on our paths.
  • What does it mean that our lives should reflect his glory? It means likeness to Jesus. To live for the glory of God means to imitate Jesus. It means to live in dependence on the Holy Spirit who has been given to us with the specific function of bringing glory to Jesus in our lives (John 16:14). It means to live in dependence on the Holy Spirit who has been given to us with the specific function of bringing glory to Jesus in our lives (John 16:14). According to Ephesians 4:20-24, it means to live in righteousness and holiness.
  • If there is one critical issue we must face about divine guidance it is this one. Is Scripture our guide? Is Scripture ultimately ‘the only rule to direct us how we may glorify’ God?
  • How then does God make his will known to us? Primarily by teaching us about himself and our relationship to him. As we come to know the character of God, and his ways with men, we shall increasingly discover this wisdom—that is, the practical knowledge of his will and the ways in which it is to be put into action.
  • The chief need we have, therefore, is that of increased familiarity with and sensitivity to the wisdom of his Word.
  • Very often when young people say they are having problems about guidance, what they are really faced with is a problem about obedience. The issue at stake is whether we will walk along the paths of righteousness in which God will lead us.
  • The experience of discovering the will of God has two aspects to it. We have been considering some of the objective guidelines which Scripture provides. But there is also a subjective element in coming to know God’s will. After all, it is my life, not another’s, and my obedience, not another’s, which are involved in my coming to the conviction that one specific course of action is the Lord’s will for my life.
  • The point of contact between God’s revealed will and my personal obedience and walk in his will for my own life lies in the heart.
  • Before God, as we seek his guidance, there must be a developing harmony between our motivations to serve him, and a true condition of the heart. There must be fear and humility, and also obedience and trust.
  • How are we to walk worthy of God? Paul indicates that it is by living in a way that is consistent with his revealed character. To live in the will of God is to walk in love, to walk in light and to walk in wisdom.
  • The first characteristic of walking in the light is separation. The child of God will not become a partner in sin, nor with men in the pursuit of sin. The second characteristic—his life is identified by contrast. He was once darkness, but now he is light in the Lord!
  • There is no sincerity in our profession to want the will of God in our lives if we are not in tune with his will for personal holiness.
  • Few things are more common among those who complain that guidance has become a very frustrating thing for them than the failure to use the present opportunities God has given to them!
  • Guidance is the way in which God leads us as we think through the implications of his truth, and seek to find practical application of it in our lives. It involves using our minds to think through the path which God wants us to take in his service. It requires familiarity with Scripture, and fellowship with the Spirit, who alone knows the mind of God (1 Cor. 2:11-13).
  • Wherever we search in Scripture for teaching on the guidance of God, we invariably meet this combination. Guidance is supernatural; the will of God is made known to us spiritually. That is why we need to walk in the Spirit. But it is also made known to us through the Word. That is why we must walk intelligently in the Spirit.
  • No action which is contrary to the plain Word of God can ever be legitimate for the Christian. No appeal to spiritual freedom or to providential circumstances can ever make what is ethically wrong anything else but sinful. For the Christian is free only to love and obey the law of God. Therein lies his true freedom.
  • The question I must learn to ask is: Will it bring benefits, as far as I am able to judge, so that my relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ is strengthened? Will it draw me nearer to him? We are no longer speaking about whether a course of action is lawful for the Christian. We are considering only actions which are. But something which has a neutral influence on one person may be detrimental to another.
  • So the real question is: Can I take Christ there and look him in the face without shame? Is this course of action, this decision I am taking, totally consistent with my personal confession that ‘Jesus Christ is my Lord’?
  • We must not rest content with asking whether a course of action will be personally helpful. Will it have a like beneficial effect on others? Indeed, do I engage in it with a view to serving and helping them?
  • ‘What would Paul have done?’ ‘What would Christ himself have done?’. These are the questions we can now ask. Are there incidents, or is there teaching in Scripture, which can be applied to the situation in which I find myself?
  • Is it lawful? Is it helpful? Is it enslaving? Is it consistent with the Lordship of Christ? Is it helpful to others? Is it consistent with the example of Christ and the apostles? Is it for the glory of God? For that matter, am I living for the glory of God?
  • For the Christian the choice of a life-calling will be seen as one of the most important decisions he ever makes. It will determine many aspects of his life. It is essential therefore to be assured that we are doing the will of God.
  • There is no text in the Bible which tells you: This is what you are to do with your life. There are texts which say: These are things which you must not do. How then are we to arrive at the personal knowledge of God’s will?
  • We will never come to know and enjoy the will of the Lord, and find it good, perfect and acceptable until we first gain a true view of God and his fatherly character towards us.
  • If we are to marry, only God can bring us to the person we are to marry. There are principles enshrined in Scripture which will give stability, safety and wisdom to you as you contemplate the prospect, or possibility, of marriage.
  • For such people, there is a final word of biblical counsel. It has a wide application and is relevant to every Christian who longs to know the will of God. It is the one word: WAIT! Wait for the Lord!
  • We are sometimes unwilling to bow to the sovereign providences of God in our lives. We become bitter against him, and consequently refuse to wait for his leading. We become frustrated with God.
  • All impatience can be traced back to a disbelief in God’s ultimate goodness. That is why, if we are to appreciate the wisdom of God’s guidance, it is important for us to understand not only the nature of his guidance, but the character of the Guide himself. Trust him for his goodness, and we will trust him for his guidance!
  • God has his own place and time to act. He has his purposes to fulfil in us as well as his will to reveal to us.
  • The fact that we cannot see what God is doing does not mean that he is doing nothing. The Lord has his own timetable. It is we who must learn to adjust to it, not vice versa.
  • Do you not see that only in his will can you ever find the glory of God and the joy for which he created you? Will you not respond, and begin again to walk.

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THIS & THAT and Favorite Quotes of the Week

 

This and That

My Amazon.com Reviews. You can see more than fifty of my book, music and movie reviews here.

SPORTS:

  •  Zack JohnsonA Tough Lie. Phil Michelson’s hooked tee shot on the famous “road hole” (#17) at Saint Andrews Old Course at the British Open landed on a hotel room balcony.
  • Zack Johnson. Congratulations to Zack Johnson on winning his second major championship at the British Open!
  • Kurt and Mike PhotoTwo Role Models. Kurt Warner and St. Louis Cardinal Manager Mike Matheny. Warner spoke at the Cardinals Christian Family Day on July 19. Watch Cardinals Adam Wainright, Matt Carpenter, Trevor Rosenthal, Mike Matheny, and Kurt’s post-game message (after the 18 inning game!) here.

 

IN THE NEWS:

  • I thought Planned Parenthood Protected Family Values. Rosaria Butterfield writes “The worldview that redefines “personhood,” denies the God who created us, despises Jesus—the prophet whose wisdom knows no earthly bounds, the priest whose grace and sacrifice knows no earthly shackles, the king whose power and authority orchestrates the details of every life and every day—is the worldview manifested in the recent SCOTUS decision and the viral Planned Parenthood videos.”
  • We Will Not Bow. Watch this recent sermon from John MacArthur. The text is also provided.
  • 10 Numbers You Should Know About Planned Parenthood. Joe Carter shares this information about Planner Parenthood.
  • More Smoking-Gun Evidence of the Evil of Planned Parenthood. Denny Burk writes “Just to be clear, Planned Parenthood has argued that everything it has done is legal. Planned Parenthood is not disputing the most damnable aspects of this video–that their services include killing babies in utero and receiving payment to cover the cost of distributing baby body parts for research. Those are the facts that are undisputed and that shock the conscience. The latest undercover video is more evidence of the whole bloody business.”
  • Abortion as a Form of Discrimination: Why It Ought to be Unthinkable. Here’s a paper Matt Perman wrote in seminary showing why abortion is wrong on the basis of reason, philosophy, science, the founding documents of our nation, and Scripture.
  • On Defending the Ghastly. Doug Wilson writes “Every United Way chapter, along with the national organization, needs to be repeatedly asked a simple question: “In the light of the recent videos that reveal that Planned Parenthood traffics in baby parts, and the upcoming congressional hearings, is the United Way currently willing to discontinue funding Planned Parenthood?”
  • The New York Times Offers Full-Throated Defense of Barbarism. Denny Burk writes “The New York Times editorial board has penned a full-throated defense of Planned Parenthood.”
  • Britt Hume Commentary on Abortion. Watch this minute and a half commentary from Fox News commentator Britt Hume.
  • New York Times Op-Ed Piece Makes the Case for Polygamy Based on Obergefell. Denny Burk writes “The New York Times has published an op-ed making the case for polygamy. And it does so by appealing to the logic of Obergefell v. Hodges.
  • How to Make a Pro-Life Argument in 2 Minutes or Less. Watch this short video from Scott Klusendorf, president of Life Training Institute and the author of The Case for Life.
  • Everyone you’ve ever met is a “product of conception.” Russell Moore
  • Aborted children, crushed to death by human hands, will one day run in new bodies filled with the aliveness of resurrection joy. Tony Reinke
  • Abortion steals praise from God by denying image-bearers the opportunity to live through and for him. Rosaria Butterfield
  • “When Wilberforce showed England the horror of the Slave-Trade, England Abolished It. Let’s show America the reality of Abortion.” Eric Metaxas
As Seen In World Magazine

As Seen In World Magazine

CHRISTIAN LIVING:

  • Mutual Brokenness Over Sexual Sin. Dr. Heath Lambert in this two-minute video talks about why it is so important for the church to begin with humble introspection when it comes to addressing issues of sexual sin.
  • Are We on the Wrong Side of History? “You don’t want to be on the wrong side of history, do you?” What do we Christians make of this increasingly common question, usually posed in regard to our supposedly passé—even evil—beliefs about sexuality? How should believers respond? Don Carson, Tim Keller, and John Piper offer some pastoral wisdom and biblical guidance in this 6-minute video.
  • Talking with Children about God’s Design for Sexuality. Nate Shurden shares four practical suggestions for speaking with our children about matters of sexuality.
  •  Theological Heroes and Villains. Tim Challies writes “I have learned that I need to choose my heroes carefully. I need to expect that my heroes will be flawed. I need to believe that I am flawed. And I need to force myself to remember that the best of men are but men at their best.”
  • The Stampede of Secularism Will Not Stop Conversions. John Piper writes that “It is no harder for God to save people today than it ever has been. Evangelistic despair or cowardice in the face of a deeply secular culture is wholly out of place in the Christian church.
  • Os Guinness: Welcome to the ‘Grand Age of Apologetics’. See this interview with Os Guinness from Christianity Today.
  • 10 Reasons Believers Should Take Care of Themselves Physically. Chuck Lawless writes “I confess that I don’t always take care of myself as I should. I have to work hard to maintain a healthy weight, keep my blood pressure down, etc. As a Christian, though, I see this issue as more a spiritual one than a physical one. Here are some reasons believers need to take care of ourselves.”
  • How Do You Define Joy? This video is the first of a six-part series on the theme of joy in the book of Philippians. John Piper will walk us through a short study of how to understand joy, pursue it for ourselves, and then apply it in all of life. Other videos in the series will be: Part 2: What Is Christian Hedonism? (September 1), Part 3: What Is the Secret of Joy in Suffering? (September 6), Part 4: Must Faith in God Enjoy God? (September 13), Part 5: How Does Joy Overflow in Love? (September 20) and Part 6: Does Joy Die in Sorrow? (September 27).

PRAYER:

  • The Five Minute CACTIS Prayer Plan. Clint Archer offer a “beginning therapy to help rehabilitate your prayer life. This is a five minute template of prayer, with a five simple segments, each of which can easily be filled with one minute of prayer. And then the idea is that you increase the time you spend on each segment; twelve minutes per segment fills an hour”.
  • 5 Days to Learn a Simple, Practical Biblical Approach to Prayer. Sign up to join Don Whitney—author of the new, short book, Praying the Bible—on a 5-day journey to learn a simple, practical, and biblical approach to prayer that will turn duty into delight! In just a few minutes a day, you’ll learn a time-tested method that could transform your prayer life: praying the words of the Bible.
  •  A Prayer for Trusting God with Important Decisions in Front of Us. Here’s another wonderful prayer from Scotty Smith.
  • “Nothing is adapted better to excite us to prayer than a full conviction that we shall be heard.” John Calvin
  • Prayer is an earnest and familiar talking with God. John Knox
  • When we pray, we must remember who we are and whom we are addressing. R.C. Sproul
  • The only person who dares wake up a king at 3:00 AM for a glass of water is a child. We have that kind of access. Tim Keller

HEAVEN:

  • When Dying is Gain. Nathan Busenitz shares two reasons that when our hope is properly placed in God, death comes as a welcome friend to take us home.”
  • Is the Kingdom of God Strictly in the Future? R.C. Sproul writes “Many professing evangelicals today believe the kingdom of God is strictly in the future, although there is no biblical foundation for that. This view robs the church of important teachings concerning the kingdom that are clearly set forth in the New Testament.
  • Is the Hope of Heaven Beautiful or Boring? In five minutes, John Piper describes the beauty and wonder of a never-ending life in God’s presence. When you think about spending a trillion years in heaven, does that hope feel satisfying or boring?

CHURCH LIFE:

  • Why Join a Church. David Mathis shares six reasons to go against the noncommittal grain, put down roots, join a particular local church, and be as involved as possible in the life of that church.
  • The Sunday Worship Killer. Jason Helopoulos writes “Donning the robes of the critic maims and kills many would-be worshipers in churches every single Sunday morning.”   
  • Help Me Teach the Bible: Michael Lawrence on Acts. Here’s the latest podcast in Nancy Guthrie’s “Help Me Teach the Bible” series.
  • 5 Things to Look for in a Church. R.C. Sproul shares five things to look for in our biblical church.
  • Don’t give up on the church. The New Testament knows nothing of churchless Christianity. Kevin DeYoung
  • “Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church.  Worship is.  Missions exists because worship doesn’t.”  John Piper
Doug Michael’s Cartoon of the Week

Doug Michael’s Cartoon of the Week

JUST FOR FUN:

  • 15 of the Funniest Christian Parody Twitter Accounts to Follow. Kevin Halloran writes “Below is a list of my 15 favorite funny Christian accounts to follow on Twitter and some of their best tweets. Chances are you’ve seen a few retweets from these accounts.”
  • The Jim Gaffigan Show. I’m enjoying the new television series from my favorite comedian.
  • Key to the City: St. Louis. Key to the City is the insider’s guide to baseball cities. Matt Fisher covers the must-see spots to visit before a Cardinals game, including our favorite place to eat in this city – Pappy’s Smokehouse.
  • Slow Motion Lightning. Tim Challies shared this video that shows lightning at 2000 frames per second.
  • A rabbi, a priest, and an atheist walk into a bar. The bartender says “What is this, a joke?” Fernando Ortega
  • “I calculate I’m only 20 pounds away from suspenders.” Jim Gaffigan
  • “If I was to guess job titles by looking at church staff photos from various websites, LOTS of churches have well-staffed donut ministries.” Barnabas Piper

Favorite Quotes of the Week

  • “The flesh is not totally annihilated at conversion; the war goes on.” R.C. Sproul
  • Repentance is a daily experience. Alistair Begg
  • Religion says, ‘I obey, therefore I am accepted’ Christianity says, ‘I am accepted, therefore I obey’ Alistair Begg
  •  It is not great faith we need so much as faith in a great God. Hudson Taylor
  • Hesed is a deep intuitive instinct towards kindness that is a vestige of the image of God in us. Michael Card
  • Forgiving those who betray us will be some of the most difficult and important heart-work we will do this side of heaven. Scotty Smith
  • Truth is to be believed in your head, received as worship in your heart, and practiced with wisdom through your hands. Darrin Patrick
  • All the preaching in the world cannot make a man see the truth so long as his eyes are blinded. Charles Spurgeon
  • What will really save the lost world? Let me tell you: none of our complaints against it. Jared Wilson
  • If you don’t live for Jesus you will live for something else. Will those things be enough? Will they die for you? Tim Keller
  • Christ is not valued at all unless He is valued above all. Augustine
  • Our greatest need before conversion is the gospel, and our greatest need after conversion is the gospel. Burk Parsons
  • The devil will tell you at the beginning of your lives, ‘It is too soon to serve God”. He will tell you at the end it is too late. J.C. Ryle
  • The cross opens the possibility to all of the endless blessings of the glorious God. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
  • We are too prone to engrave our trials in marble and write our blessings in sand. Charles Spurgeon
  • Jesus is one of the following: Lord, Lunatic, Liar, or a Legend. Only four possibilities. Tim Keller
  • Our delight in Jesus is a mere whisper of his delight in us. Scotty Smith
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