Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

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This & That and Favorite Quotes of the Week

This and That




  • Read the Bible to Your Anxiety. John Piper writes “I created three labs teaching through Matthew 6:24–34 on anxiety. My objectives were both to understand how Jesus helps us overcome anxiety, but also to draw out six lessons for how to read the Bible for ourselves.”
  • Freedom from Self-Absorption. In this short video, John Piper invites us into seeing the world a certain way. He calls us to wake up to the wonder, and be freed from the slumber of self-absorption. Learning Contentment. Sinclair Ferguson writes “Christian contentment, therefore, is the direct fruit of having no higher ambition than to belong to the Lord and to be totally at His disposal in the place He appoints, at the time He chooses, with the provision He is pleased to make.”
  • How Do I Know I’m a Christian? Kevin DeYoung writes “Whenever counseling Christians looking for assurance of salvation, I take them to 1 John. This brief epistle is full of help for determining whether we are in the faith or not. In particular, there are three signs in 1 John given to us so we can answer the question “Do I have confidence or condemnation?”
  • God Is Bigger Than My Cancer: Learning Joy in the Darkness. J. Todd Billings writes about his incurable cancer.
  • Can Christians Lose Their Salvation? Randy Alcorn shares an interview of Sam Storms with Justin Taylor on the issue of eternal security or perseverance of the saints.
  • Are People In Heaven Aware Of What Happens Today On Earth? Randy Alcorn writes that one of the common questions about Heaven he’s heard over the years is, “Do people in Heaven know what’s presently happening on earth?”
  • To the Sons and Daughters of Divorce. Paul Maxwell pieces together some themes from Scripture to explain how God understands and relates to children of divorce, in ten points.
  • Don’t Let Pride Steal Your Joy. Jon Bloom writes “Yes, through humility Jesus is inviting us into a heaven of joy and wonder. And it’s a heaven that begins now. To travel this humble road to joy only requires taking the next step, the one right in front of us today. It’s that step that our pride doesn’t want us to take.”
  • Four Ways to Fight the Fear of Missing Out. Jon Bloom writes “Jesus goes right to the heart of The Thing’s deception: It promises us life in some kind of possession, which has no life to give. The Thing is our belief that we can get life from an idol.”
  • When God Interrupts Your Plans. Christina Fox writes “How about you? Is your life filled with interruptions? Do you see God’s hand at work in them?”
  • Don’t Confuse Spirituality with Righteousness. R.C. Sproul writes “Spirituality and piety are not ends in themselves. In fact they are worthless unless they are means to a higher goal. The goal must go beyond spirituality to righteousness.”
  • Does R.C. Sproul Believe in Miracles? R.C. Sproul writes “Now God’s still alive, He’s still working; He’s still answering prayers in an amazing way. I’ve seen marvelous answers to prayers, I’ve seen people healed of so called terminal illnesses, I just have never seen anybody raised out of the cemetery, or an arm that is severed grow back, or a preacher walk on the water, or water turned into wine.”
  • What Does Jude 7 Mean by “Other Flesh”? Kevin DeYoung writes “In short, the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah and the whole region was not just a one-time attempted gang rape of angelic beings, but, according to Jude a lifestyle of sensuality and sexual immorality, at least one aspect of which was exemplified in men pursuing the flesh of other men instead of the flesh of women.”
  • It’s Not Too Late: Hope for the Fight Against Porn. David Mathis writes “Here, at God’s right hand, sits our final hope. Not in our accountability, or our resolves, and definitely not in our willpower. Not in our record in the past, nor our ability in the present, nor our potential in the future. Our great hope lies not in ourselves, but outside of us, in Christ, who has overcome, and in whom we too will overcome.”
  • Satisfaction at the Cost of Obedience. Tim Challies writes “We can gain some important insights into temptation from two poignant illustrations in the book of James.”
  • 23 Guidelines to Protect Your Purity in Dating. Randy Alcorn writes “First of all, remember that if you plant purity today, you will reap a rich harvest, free from shame and guilt. And, by the grace of God, you’ll look back on your life not with regret, but with joyful gratitude. Sexual purity is ALWAYS in your best interest. Be smart, not stupid, and you’ll enjoy the best God has for you!”
  • “The Shack Up”?  Is that the sequel to “The Shack”? Not quite. I’m talking about the idea of cohabitation before marriage. I’m talking about “moving in” with your boyfriend/girlfriend before you actually get married. I’m talking about the “try before you buy” idea.” Here is Part 2.
  • To-Do Lists. Alan Dowd writes “As your kids complete another year in school — especially if they are transitioning from high school to college or from college into the real world, perhaps the following to-do list will help them navigate what lies ahead.”  
  •  How to Find a Mentor. Russell Moore writes about how to find someone to mentor or disciple you.
  • 13 Needs that Christianity Meets. David Murray writes “For most people, though, the answer is closer to “because it met my needs.” But what needs does Christianity meet?”
  • A Prayer for Relishing the Gift of Friendship. Here’s a wonderful prayer from our friend Scotty Smith.



  • What’s So Funny About Jim Gaffigan’s Christianity? Michelle Boorstein writes “Jim and Jeannie Gaffigan – who have long co-written his comedy – have pre-released one of the shows through the end of May, an episode centered on the idea that it’s risky for a pop culture figure to come out as religious. The plot takes off after Gaffigan is accidentally photographed carrying a massive Bible and then panics about what the public will think.”

“The new Jim Gaffigan Show is hilarious. At one point I laughed guffawed, snorted and hiccupped in rapid succession.” Matt Maher

Beyond the Ark

Doug Michael’s Cartoon of the Week

Favorite Quotes of the Week 5.24.2015  Favorite Quotes

If you need something in addition to God to make you happy, that is your true King. Tim Keller

  • God is pleased to use ordinary people and ordinary conversations to do most of the heavy lifting in his kingdom. Ed Welch
  • The whole basis for our relationship with God is rooted and grounded in grace, in that which is not earned. R.C. Sproul
  • Don’t tell me that you have a Reformed Church in the tradition of Calvin until you have the preaching of the Word every day of the week, devote Wednesday’s to prayer and have the church gather together for prayer.  Sinclair Ferguson
  • There is nothing more foreign, more alien, to our nature than holiness. R.C. Sproul
  • When the voice of Christ speaks through the Word, then you will arise, and leave all, and follow Him. Robert Murray McCheyne
  • God did not send a concept, an idea, or a virtue. He sent his Son. Follow the God of love, not love as your god. Kevin DeYoung
  • When I forget the gospel I become dependent on the smiles and evaluation of others. Tim Keller
  • The Christian life is to live all of your life in the presence of God. R.C. Sproul
  • God doesn’t love us because we’re good; God loves us because He’s good. Tullian Tchividjian
  • In Christ, we are already more beautiful than broken, free than captive, grace-full than sinful, new than old, and whole than wounded. Scotty Smith
  • Depend on it, my hearer, you never will go to heaven unless you are prepared to worship Jesus Christ as God. —C.H. Spurgeon
  • There is nothing more foolish or self-defeating than for a Christian to say that he is not interested in doctrines. Martyn Lloyd Jones
  • Things are not as they should be. Because He’s not finished yet. They will be. Rest assured. R.C. Sproul Jr.
  • We must be global Christians, with a global mission, because our God is a global God. John Stott
  • Your duty is to believe and to preach what the Bible says, not what you want it to say. R.C. Sproul
  • We can change because an infinite God is personally involved in the details of our lives. Paul Miller
  • God does everything for His glory, not because He is an egomaniac but because He’s doing it for our joy. John Piper
  • One of the signs that you are walking in the light is that you are honest about having walked in the darkness. Kevin DeYoung
  • Ministry to the poor is a crucial sign that we believe the gospel. Tim Keller
  • Suffering reveals to us the two things that ultimately matter: that we are weak but He is strong. Tullian Tchividjian
  • The pathway to lasting honor is to honor Christ. Alistair Begg
  • Do not rest, believer, until you have full assurance of your interest in Jesus. Charles Spurgeon
  • “Being a good steward” and “placing your hope in” is not the same thing. Matt Chandler
  • I don’t have to worry about meeting His expectations. God will ensure my success in accordance with His plan, not mine. Francis Chan
  • To make the story first about us or about me and my salvation is to reduce the story. It robs Jesus of the glory of being the central actor. Michael Horton
  • A cross without offense to the world is a cross without power in the world. Steven Lawson
  • The gospel frees us to follow our Lord willingly out of love rather than reluctantly out of fear. John MacArthur
  • We can accomplish more in one month of dependence on the Spirit than we can in 100 years of dependence on ourselves. David Platt
  • Just so we’re clear the words “free will” are not actually in the Bible. Predestination, on the other hand… R.C. Sproul Jr.
  • You are not only responsible for what you say, but also for what you do not say.  Martin Luther

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INTEGRATING FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

The New One Minute ManagerThe New One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson. William Morrow. 2015. 98 pages.

The original One Minute Manager book was written by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson in 1982, and has sold 15 million copies in more than 40 languages. For this new edition, the authors write:

“The world has changed since the publication of the original One Minute Manager. Today, organizations must respond faster, with fewer resources, to keep up with ever-changing technology and globalization. But, just as the world has changed, so has the One Minute Manager. He has a new, more collaborative approach to leading and motivating people. When he first started teaching his Three Secrets, top-down leadership was a way of life. These days effective leadership is more of a side-by-side relationship.”

The authors also state that today people look for more fulfillment in their work, want to feel engaged and make meaningful contributions. The New One Minute Manager must use a new approach in this changing world.

This helpful quick read is written in a concise story about a bright young man who hears about a special manager that people like to work for and they produce great results together. When people apply the manager’s principles to their personal lives, they got great results as well. The young man decides to seek out the manager, who tells him about three secrets to One Minute Management. Those secrets are:

  1. One Minute Goals
  2. One Minute Praisings
  3. One Minute Re-Directs (a new version of the original third secret, a One Minute Reprimand).

Some of my favorite quotes from the book were:

  •  We believe in the 80/20 rule. That is, 80% of your really important results will come from 20% of your goals. So we set One Minute Goals on only that 20%—that is, our key areas of responsibility—maybe three to five goals.
  • We used to be a top-down managed company, which worked in its time. But today that structure is too slow. It doesn’t inspire people and it stifles innovation. Customers demand quicker service and better products, so we need everyone to contribute their talent. The brainpower isn’t only in the executive office—it can be found throughout the organization.
  • So I care about people and results, because they go hand in hand.
  • Encourage people to take a minute to look at what they’re doing, and see if their behavior matches their goals. If it doesn’t, encourage them to re-think what they’re doing so they can realize their goals sooner.
  • When he notices you have done something right, he tells you precisely what you did right, and how good he feels about it. Then he reinforces the praise by encouraging you to keep up the good work.
  • Goals make clear what is most important to focus on, Praisings build confidence that helps you succeed, and Re-Directs address mistakes. And all three of these help people feel better about themselves and produce good results.
  • The most important—and natural—thing to do to help people become winners is to catch them doing something approximately right in the beginning. Then you move on toward the desired result.”
  • If managers would address things earlier, they could deal with one behavior at a time and the person would not be overwhelmed. They’d be more likely to hear the feedback the way it was intended. That’s why I think performance review should be an ongoing process, not something you do only once a year.”
  • Making mistakes is not the problem. It’s not learning from them that causes real problems.

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

The Conviction to Lead by Albert MohlerThe 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 15 Leaders Are Speakers:

  •  When leaders speak, we speak for the movement, the organization, the company, the congregation, or the institution we lead. If communication is central to leadership, speech is central to communication.
  • Convictional leadership requires the communication and transmission of conviction through the leader’s voice. At times this function is conversational. More often than not, given the size and complexity of modern organizations, this requires a speech delivered before more than a handful of people.
  • Speaking is an art and a craft, not a science.
  • Leaders who are good speakers learn to use their voice as an instrument rather than a piece of equipment.
  • Aristotle broke persuasive speech down into three elements: ethos, pathos, and logos. Ethos refers to arguments based in the character of the speaker. Pathos refers to arguments that are intended to produce change by touching the emotions of the hearers. Logos identifies arguments designed to persuade by means of logical argument. Most leaders lean almost exclusively on logos in their speaking,
  • Aristotle knew that human beings are more often persuaded by emotional elements. For this reason, the effective leader must work at establishing a connection with the audience’s emotions as well as their intellects.
  • The effective leader combines ethos, pathos, and logos in every speech, every talk, every presentation, and every message—every time.
  • If giving a speech seems daunting, redefine public speaking as storytelling. This will help almost any speaker be more effective. People connect to stories, and the best speeches and messages lean heavily into narrative.
  • We speak in order to invite others into a narrative that grows out of deep conviction. Our confidence is that this narrative, put into action, will change lives, and sometimes even change history.
  • I follow a simple process as I get my speech, and myself, ready for the occasion. First, know what you want to say. If you do not know what you want and need to say, don’t speak. It is just that simple.
  • Second, know your audience. You need to know the anticipated size, composition, and expectations of the listeners.
  • Third, outline your message. The outline is like a road map for your speech.
  • Fourth, frame your presentation. The frame is the big picture into which your message is set—the narrative into which this speech finds its purpose and meaning.
  • Fifth, punctuate and illustrate. By punctuate, I do not refer to the mechanics of punctuating sentences. I mean you must insert particularly powerful and memorable content into your message in order to drive home certain truths, points, and convictions.
  • Sixth, get yourself ready. Do whatever you have to do to be ready.
  • Seventh, speak like you mean it. Deliver your message with confidence and zeal, letting your audience know how much you believe what you are saying and how much you want them to believe along with you.
  • Eighth, tell the audience what to do. Many speakers forget or neglect this essential step, leaving the audience informed and emotionally moved but absolutely unsure what to do about it. Do not end your message without an action plan that fits the message.

Faith-and-Work  Faith and Work News

  • Is Church Work a Higher Calling? “A call to ministry or church work is no more sacred than a call to other types of work. What matters most is not one’s job title or place of work, but obedience to God, the one who calls us.”
  • Christian, Your Job is a Ministry Job. Jon Bloom writes “That is your calling today in whatever God has given you to do: make God look great. According to 1 Corinthians 7:17–24, your job (assuming it’s not inherently unethical or immoral) is a ministry assignment from God. It may not be your career assignment, but it’s today’s assignment. And God wants you to carry out that assignment with dependent faith, diligence, and excellence.”
  • 3 Reasons Pastors Should Read Leadership Books. Eric Geiger writes “Reading leadership books can help you understand the everyday culture of the people whom you serve. With a better view of the culture, you are better prepared to apply the Word to their specific issues, concerns, and challenges.”
  • What Christians Can Learn from Secular Business Thinking. Matt Perman writes “One of the best-kept secrets is that much of the strongest business thinking lines up with a biblical worldview. We see this in two of the most significant trends in business thinking: an emphasis on purpose and on service.”
  • 5 Ways Reading Makes You a Better Leader. Michael Hyatt shares five ways reading can uniquely develop and empower leaders.
  • “What… Me a Leader?” Mark Miller shares a few ways to help people see their own potential.
  • Giving Bad News to Your Boss: Career Lessons from Joseph. Al Erisman writes “Joseph handled this delicate encounter in an amazing way, providing insight for us in our 21st century business environment. We look briefly at three aspects of this meeting: its timing, how Joseph dealt with his own needs compared with those of Pharaoh, and how he delivered bad news to an authority figure.”
  • Culture: Light or Lightning? Mark Miller shares a few items to keep in mind as you think about the culture of the organization you lead.
  • 3 Things to Consider about Your Vocation, Part 1. “Although God does not give most people a direct, individual, unmistakable call to a particular job or profession, God does give guidance to people in less dramatic forms, including Bible study, prayer, Christian community and individual reflection. Developing a general attentiveness to God’s guidance in life is beyond the scope of this article. But over the next three weeks we will look at three major considerations for discerning God’s vocational guidance: The needs of the world; Your skills and gifts and your truest desires. In this article we’ll look at the first of these.”
  • Reimagining the Spiritual Purpose of Our Work. Here’s an interview with J.B. Wood, aka Shrinking Camel, the Work Editor for The High Calling, who has collected his best columns in At Work As It Is in Heaven: 25 Ways to Re-imagine the Spiritual Purpose of Your Work, published as an e-book by Patheos Press.
  • We Put People in Jobs They Love. Trilla Newbill interviews Craig Cooper, a hiring consultant and executive recruiter for Provisions Group, an information technology (IT) staff augmentation firm specializing in the healthcare industry. He also serves as an associate church-planting pastor at Redeeming Grace Church in Franklin, Tennessee.
  • Finding Purpose in Life: The Long Guide to Finding Your Life’s Work. Dan Cumberland writes “Finding your calling, vocation, and life’s work are about finding your identity. It’s about living into a deeper expression of who you are a human.”
  • What Successful People Know about Winning. John Maxwell writes about a question that he likes to ask – What do you learn when you fail?
  • Tough Times Never Last but Tough People Do. Dr. Alan Zimmerman writes “We need to think and act with courage. We need to boldly step out and speak out. And it doesn’t matter if we’re concerned about the economy, our work-life balance, or our national destiny. This is not the time for fear, negativity, and comfort-zone living. This is the time for courage.”
  • Does God Call People to Their Jobs? When Christians ask about “calling” or vocation, we usually mean, “Is God calling me to a specific job or profession?” This is a significant question. The average person will spend 90,000 hours at work over his/her lifetime. Of course we long to assign meaning and purpose to those hours. And since our work matters to God, it makes sense to ask what work he wants us to do. 
  • Everybody Matters. Bob Chapman discusses his new book Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People Like Family, which is scheduled for release on October 6, 2015. The book is filled with stories and lessons learned along Barry-Wehmiller’s journey and offers clear steps to transform businesses and organizations and create cultures where everybody matters.
  • New Everybody Matters Podcast. Bob Chapman introduces the new podcast: Everybody Matters. Like his blog, it will provide thoughts, insights and stories from throughout Barry-Wehmiller’s leadership journey. We’ll feature other like-minded leaders who are also trying to change the world. Friends we’ve made along the way like Simon Sinek, Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy, author and philanthropist Lynne Twist and many more.
  • 10 Simple Ways to Be Great. Brad Lomenick writes “There are lots of factors that go into being great. But ultimately, being great starts with you. And since you are your greatest coach and advocate for yourself, here are a few things to always think about when it comes to being great.”
  • Don’t Believe These 5 Myths About Christian Business! C. Patton dispels dispel 5 of the most common myths he has encountered regarding Christian business. And here’s part two.
  • John Maxwell on Dynamic. In this “Minute with Maxwell”, John Maxwell discusses the word dynamic.
  • Insight. In this “Minute from Maxwell”, John Maxwell discusses insight.
  • Chess Not Checkers Field Guide. Mark Miller introduces his field guide for his book Chess Not Checkers.   The guide is intended to create a step-by-step blueprint to help you turn the principles, or in this case, the four “moves,” into practice in your organization.
  • Fulfillment video. Hugh Whelchel writes “When we work hard every day at whatever God’s put in front of us, it pleases Him, and it’s way more fulfilling for us. In this short video, learn more about how to find fulfillment in what God has put in front of you to do today.”
  • 3 Ways to Say “Good Bye” To Stress. Dr. Alan Zimmerman writes “Why do so many smart business people work too hard, live too fast, and then feel strongly ambivalent about their success?  It’s simple.  They’ve never taken the time to figure out what they really, really want, and they’ve never learned the skills to make it happen.”
  • How Do You Increase a Person’s “Want To?” Mark Miller writes “While doing the research that would lead to the book, Chess Not Checkers, we discovered Shared Ownership as one of the best practices present in High Performance Organizations.”
  • Management in Light of the Supremacy of God. Matt Perman writes “Effective management, above all, means managing from a well thought point of view that is based upon how humans are created and has the supremacy of God as its ultimate aim. This kind of management is anything but boring.”
  • 3 Signs of Leadership Fatigue. Chuck Lawless writes “Leadership is sometimes wearisome – so wearisome that we come close to giving up. Over the years, I’ve watched leaders slide into defeat, and I’ve seen some of these common signs of trouble. I list these symptoms of “leadership fatigue” here not to discourage you, but instead to help you recognize them, address them, and move forward.”
  • Why Micromanaging is Ungodly. Barnabas Piper writes “Micromanagement among Christian leaders reflects poorly on our faith and the gospel. It doesn’t work, and that’s mainly because it’s not the way God designed things to work.”
  • Can People Who Hate Their Job Finding Meaning in their Work? Trevor Lee writes “Can people who hate their jobs and those who are in positions of relatively low influence find meaning in their work? There are reasons to think they can – and should.”
  • When Work is Unfair: Career Lessons from Joseph. Al Erisman writesSometimes in the middle of difficult circumstances we can see God teaching us something we need to learn. More often, however, we only see how an event shapes our lives much later. Joseph (Genesis 37-50) had such a period that went on for 13 years. We can look at his story for insight to deal with injustice and disappointment in our own work.”
  • Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast. The May Andy Leadership Podcast is on the subject of the great question leaders ask.
  • Let Your Life Speak: How to Understand Your Vocational Call. Justin Irving writes “As I have spent time teaching in the area of leadership and the inner-life, one of the core principles I come back to with students time after time is a rather simple one—the importance of listening. At the core of vocational discernment is the art of listening.”

Faith and Work Quotes

  • Management is a ministry. We are called to love the people we lead. Patrick Lencioni
  • Fairness is giving all people the treatment they earn and deserve. It doesn’t mean treating everyone alike. John Wooden
  • Humility is always a good choice. Underwhelm in words, but always overwhelm in action. Brad Lomenick
  • My Grandmother used to say, “There is a great place to go when you are broke….To Work!” Dave Ramsey
  • When your passion and purpose are greater than your fears and excuses, you will find a way. Coach K


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Movie Review ~ My Old Lady

My Old LadyMy Old Lady, PG-13

About ten days ago we were walking down the Champs-Élysées in Paris and saw that this film was showing in one of the theatres there. We had remembered seeing the trailer for the film, but the film had never come near us. Back at the apartment I found that the film had been released in the U.S. in September and was available on Amazon Instant Video.

Kevin Kline plays Mathias from New York. He travels to Paris to sell an apartment he has inherited from his father. To say that Mathias did not have a good relationship with his father would be an understatement. However, once he finds the valuable apartment in the Marais section of the city, he discovers that an elderly woman named Mathilde (Maggie Smith from Downton Abbey) living there with her daughter Chloé (Kristin Scott Thomas, who received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for The English Patient)

Mathias learns that he can’t sell the property, even though he has inherited it from his father due to something in France called a viager. Mathias will not get possession of the apartment until Mathilde, who is 92, dies. In addition to that, he owes her a monthly payment of 2,400 Euros per month! Mathias is basically broke and owes a lot of people money. He doesn’t have any friends. He was looking at the sale of the apartment as giving himself a fresh start in life. Instead, he sees this as one final shot from his father.

Since he has nowhere else to go, Mathilde allows him to stay in the apartment for the 2,400 monthly fee, which he gets by secretly selling furniture from the apartment and asking a potential buyer for an advance payment.

Mathias finds out that Mathilde has lived in the apartment for many years. The film reveals family secrets and quickly turns much more serious than we had expected as it addresses themes of alcoholism, marital affairs and suicide.

The film is the directorial debut of respected playwright Israel Horovitz. It features a strong cast who deliver excellent performances (especially Kline), and some beautiful scenes of Paris, especially along the Seine River. The soundtrack features the song “Peace Like a River” performed by Paul Simon.

The film deals with serious issues and the characters dealing with pain in their lives. Despite that, none of the characters turn to God to help them with their pain. Overall, the film is morally bankrupt and should be used to discuss ethical questions.

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Gold Star Families

Gold Star FamiliesWe are traveling to Indiana today for the installation of a new Gold Star Families Memorial Monument honoring the families of servicemen and women killed in the line of duty. The Gold Star Family Memorial was created by Medal of Honor Recipient Hershel “Woody” Williams to remember those families who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

Our brother-in-law, Dave Shively, is the Chairman of the committee for the Gold Star Family Memorial and lives in Lafayette and is a good friend of Woody Williams; both will be participating in the installation today. Since this is Memorial Day I thought you would find Woody’s story of interest.

Hershel Woodrow “Woody” Williams (born October 2, 1923) is a retired United States Marine who received the Medal of Honor from President Harry Truman for his actions in the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II. He is also the last surviving recipient of the Medal of Honor from that battle.

Here’s excerpts from his MEDAL OF HONOR CITATION with a few additional notes from me:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Demolition Sergeant serving with the First Battalion, Twenty-First Marines, Third Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima, Volcano Island, February 23,1945 (he was only 21 years old!). Quick to volunteer his services when our tanks were maneuvering vainly to open a lane for the infantry through the network of reinforced concrete pillboxes, buried mines and black, volcanic sands, Corporal Williams daringly went forward alone to attempt the reduction of devastating machine-gun fire from the unyielding positions. (He went forward alone with his 70-pound flamethrower.) Covered only by four riflemen, he fought desperately for four hours under terrific enemy small-arms fire and repeatedly returned to his own lines to prepare demolition charges and obtain serviced flame throwers, struggling back, frequently to the rear of hostile emplacements, to wipe out one position after another. On one occasion he daringly mounted a pillbox to insert the nozzle of his flame thrower through the air vent, kill the occupants and silence the gun; on another he grimly charged enemy riflemen who attempted to stop him with bayonets and destroyed them with a burst of flame from his weapon. His unyielding determination and extraordinary heroism in the face of ruthless enemy resistance were directly instrumental in neutralizing one of the most fanatically defended Japanese strong points encountered by his regiment and aided in enabling his company to reach its objective. Corporal Williams’ aggressive fighting spirit and valiant devotion to duty throughout this fiercely contested action sustain and enhance the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

(Note: These actions occurred on the same day as the raising of the U.S. flag on the island’s Mount Suribachi, although Williams was not able to witness the event. He fought through the remainder of the five-week-long battle and was wounded on March 6, for which he was awarded the Purple Heart.)

Woody WilliamsIn a recent article in The Atlantic magazine, they talked about “The Historic Courage of Bruce Jenner” coming out as a transgendered American. I thought Woody’s story would be a good reminder of what true historic courage is.


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Movie Review ~ Tomorrowland

Tomorrowland MovieTomorrowland, rated PG
** ½

This science fiction film is the latest film from Disney with a connection to their theme parks (Tomorrowland is one of the many themed lands featured at five Disney theme parks around the world); the film even includes a scene featuring the irritating “It’s a Small World” attraction. We saw the film at an IMAX theatre and found the film visually stunning and creative at times, but the story weak and the overlong film, well, rather boring. The film is directed by Brad Bird, who has a strong resume (Ratatouille, The Incredibles, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol), and who helped write the screenplay.

As the film starts we are introduced to a young Frank (Thomas Robinson), going to the 1964 World’s Fair with his back pack invention that doesn’t quite work. It is there he meets the freckle-faced Athena (Raffey Cassidy) and Nix (Hugh Laurie from House M.D).

We also meet Casey (Britt Robertson) who lives with her NASA engineer father (Tim McGraw) and younger brother. Casey is constantly told in her classes in school that the world is being polluted, destroyed and slowly ending. She never gets an answer to her question about what can be done about it. One day, she finds a mysterious pin which takes her to a futuristic world. She will eventually meet the adult Frank (George Clooney) and Athena.

A favorite scene (as we just returned from Paris and stood below the Eiffel Tower) was when Casey, Frank and Athena go to Paris and they launch something out of the middle of the Eiffel tower.

The film has messages – about what we are doing to our world (we see a clock counting down to the end of our world and video screens depicting all of the terrible things going on in the world), as well as optimism for a better world. Well, I think it does. After the movie Tammy and I had a good conversation about the film. It just didn’t come together for us.

The film is visually stunning and creative at times, but the story needed to be tightened up. The film was a good 30 minutes too long (I caught myself checking my watch). The film was also surprisingly violent for a PG rating, and there was some minor profanity included, along with the misuse of God’s name.

So like a Disney attraction, you may want to just see the story as supplemental as you enjoy the experience and the ride.


A Taste of Europe: A Trip of a Lifetime

Almost every year since we were married in 1980 we’ve gone on vacation with my wife Tammy’s sister Teri and her husband Al and their children, boyfriends, girlfriends and now husbands, wives and grandchildren. Al travelled extensively in his previous career in the telecommunications field, and the plan has always been that when their kids were out of college he would show us around Europe. That trip finally took place May 7-17, just before our 35th wedding anniversary. Along with the four of us were their son Mark and his new wife Tiffany, who used the trip as their honeymoon and a return to the place of their engagement.

This was the first international travel for Tammy, Teri and I. The trip started with an overnight flight from Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, a short layover in Frankfurt, Germany to our destination in Nice (pronounced “Niece”), France. Mark and Tiffany would fly from Houston to Paris to Nice.

We did everything we could to sleep on the plane as Al (who had planned this trip to show us some of his favorite places in Europe for months, and had sent periodic emails to give us hints and tips about the trip) told us that with the seven hour time difference in France we would not be able to sleep until the next evening. The title of the trip “A Taste of Europe”, was based on Al telling us that we would only be getting a small taste of Europe in the eleven day trip (with two days primarily devoted to travelling). Al and I prepared by reading Rick Steve’s travel books on Paris and France.

View from our balcony in Nice, France

View from our balcony in Nice, France

We landed in Nice on the French Riviera, and rented a large Renault van, which was great for us, but at times a real challenge for Al to negotiate the narrow, winding roads in France, Italy and Switzerland. We stayed in Nice at the Hotel Suisse, which provided spectacular views of the Mediterranean Sea and Nice’s picturesque seaside promenade, the Promenade des Anglais (‘the Walkway of the English’) from our balconies.



The beach doesn’t feature sand, but large pebbles or small stones. While in Nice we took side trips to Antibes and Monaco. In Monaco we saw the city being set up for the baptism of Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene’s twins scheduled for the next day. We also saw the outside of Jacques Cousteau’s Oceanographic Museum, the famous Monte Carlo casino (complete with a Rolls Royce, Bentleys, Ferraris and an Aston-Martin parked outside) and the city setting up for the upcoming Grand Prix race.

Narrow Alleys in Bellagio, Italy

Narrow Alleys in Bellagio, Italy

On Sunday we said good-bye to Nice, and our Tour Guide Al led us to Bellagio, Italy on beautiful Lake Como, where we stayed at the Hotel Metropole. On the way we went through many tunnels carved out of the mountains. For the first hour of the trip we had wonderful views of the Mediterranean Sea. As we approached Bellagio, the narrow and winding roads provided a challenge to navigate as did finding a parking space in the very crowded town. We had wonderful sunset and sunrise views from our balconies.

Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland

Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland

After having breakfast on the shores of Lake Como, we took a car ferry across the lake and took off for Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland and the Hotel Stabbach at the foot of the Swiss Alps, with five waterfalls within our view at the hotel. On the way we had many breathtaking views of mountains, waterfalls and beautiful clear lakes.

We took a tram up to 9,744 feet above the Swiss Skyline to Schilthorn and the Piz Gloria, the sight of the villain’s hideout in the 1969 James Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. The views were spectacular. On the way down from Schilthorn, we ran into and had a great conversation with Paul Miller (author of A Praying Life) and his wife Jill. We had hosted “A Praying Life” event at our church a few years ago, led by one of Paul’s team members. I’m currently reading Paul’s A Loving Life and very much being blessed by it. Look for a review soon.

Me and Paul Miller in a Swiss cable car

Me and Paul Miller in a Swiss cable car

Calvin's Chair

Calvin’s Chair

We drove to Geneva and visited St. Peter’s Cathedral (Cathedrale St-Pierre) in the heart of Geneva Switzerland’s Old Town towering over the other buildings and making quite an impression from the banks of Lake Geneva, one of the largest lakes in Western Europe. John Calvin preached here for 25 years, and visiting the church was one of my highlights of the trip. Over the next two days I read Steven Lawson’s book The Expository Genius of John Calvin. My reading plans for this summer include reading Banner of Truth’s new translation of the first volume of Calvin’s Sermons on Job, recently released as an e-book.

Reformation Wall in Geneva, Switzerland

Reformation Wall in Geneva, Switzerland

Though Calvin’s pulpit has not survived, his chair has. Read the article “The History of Christianity in 25 Objects: Calvin’s Chair” from Tim Challies.  Tiffany, Mark and I then went to visit the famous Reformation Wall in a local park near the church.

We then hopped a high-speed train for the three hour trip to Paris, the last stop on our Taste of Europe trip. We rented an apartment in Paris on Rue du Pont Neuf, two blocks from the Pont Neuf bridge, Paris’ oldest bridge.IMG_0146

In Paris we saw many of the famous sites the city has to offer – the Seine River and many of the 37 bridges over the river; Sainte- Chapelle, Notre Dame (including Al and I walking the 387 steps to the top for incredible views of the city); the Louvre Museum (Mona Lisa by da Vinci); Musee d’ Orsay (Impressionist artists like Monet and Renoir); Eiffel Tower; the Sacre Coeur basilica and a great view of the city at Montmartre; the Arc de Triomphe and walked down the Champs-Élysées; the Luxembourg Gardens; the Pantheon, walking past the Church of St. Sulpice which was featured in The Da Vinci Code movie, and seeing the front steps of the Église Saint-Étienne du Mont where Owen Wilson would magically be picked up at midnight in the Woody Allen film Midnight in Paris.

There are many memories that I will keep with me for the rest of my life from our “Taste of Europe” trip of a lifetime. The beautiful scenery in the French Riviera, Italy and Switzerland and the incredible historic sites in Paris. All of the waiters and store personnel we encountered were friendly and most knew at least a little English. I’ve never seen so many motorcycles and small cars. The graffiti was distracting in some of the areas. We learned words like Sortie (Exit), gas and still water, Bonjour, Merci and were often on the lookout for WC’s (water closets) or Toilets (no mention of rest rooms in Europe). At times I had a hard time finding American coffee. In Paris, many dressed in fashionable clothing and most that we encountered were young professionals. We enjoyed sitting at the outdoor cafes, facing outward and watching the people go by. We ran into mostly small elevators (lifts) in the hotels we stayed at, and some very small showers. We used Uber (who challenges Jimmy Johns for being freaky fast), rather than taxis for most rides. We encountered distracting cheap souvenir hawkers at all of the major attractions.

We visited many beautiful churches, most of them Roman Catholic. But what about faith in France today? Doing a little research I found that sadly only 4.5% of the French attend church on a weekly basis. According to the 2010 Eurobarometer Poll, only 27% of French citizens responded that “they believe there is a God”, making France one of the more secular countries in the world. Of the 44% who considered themselves to be Christian, 41% of those were Roman Catholic. 13% considered themselves atheists and 29% non-believers or agnostics.

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Book Reviews and News

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

This book 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.

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.

Ulrich ZwingliUlrich Zwingli (Bitesize Biographies) by William Boekestein. Evangelical Press. 164 pages. 2015.
*** ½

I didn’t know too much about the Swiss Reformer Ulrich Zwingli’s life before reading this book, learning most of what I did know in a church history class with Dr. David Calhoun at Covenant Seminary several years ago. This entry in the Bitesize Biographies series from William Boekestein, an author and pastor in Pennsylvania, is a fast moving account of Zwingli’s important life and accomplishments.

The author writes that Zwingli’s battle was against the abuses of the Catholic Church, never against the church itself. Zwingli’s two sisters would become nuns and they would all eventually renounce the vows they had taken.

The author writes that in a certain sense the Swiss Reformation began in the University of Basel. As higher learning flourished, the abuses of the Catholic Church came under greater scrutiny.

Zwingli was ordained as a priest and read his first mass at Wildhaus in 1506. He added Greek and Hebrew to his knowledge of Latin and the Vulgate, a fourth century Latin translation of the Bible. He would become closely acquainted with Erasmus of Rotterdam.

He became pastor at Einsiedeln in 1516. Here he read the Church Fathers and hand-copied the Scriptures.   He also started preaching against the sale of indulgences, the worship of Mary and other papal abuses. Many scholars date the start of the Reformation in Switzerland in 1516, a year ahead of the German Reformation.

Zwingli was not only a religious leader, but a political one as well. He strongly opposed the concept of Swiss men serving as mercenary soldiers abroad.

Personally, Zwingli was suspected of having inappropriate intimate relationships with several women. He would unsuccessfully petition the bishop of Constance for permission to marry. He would eventually live in a secret marriage. Such secret marriages were sanctioned by the Catholic Church until they were outlawed by the Council of Trent (1545-1563).

He would then become pastor to the leading church in Zurich, one of the chief cities of the confederation, where he would begin verse-by-verse preaching. Eventually, the sermon would replace the mass in Zurich.   His preaching included denouncements of the monks, of the veneration of saints and of feast days. He raised questions about purgatory, the damnation of unbaptized children and excommunication. He would provide the Zurich City Council with advice about religious images used as objects of worship. He would work to reform the liturgy, removing the organs and Latin choirs. In 1525, a new Lord’s Supper liturgy would replace the mass. Later a new liturgy would replace the Catholic baptismal ceremony. By the middle of 1525 the Zurich church was no longer Catholic. The Zurich Protestants were now considered heretics.

The author details the Anabaptist controversy. The Anabaptists believed that Zwingli was failing to take his principles to their logical conclusion. Zwingli was now considered the conservative, while the Anabaptists were the revolutionaries.

He would be relieved of many of the routine duties of a priest so that he could devote himself to preaching and instructing the city in the evangelical faith.

The author reviews three Disputations in Zurich. Although Zwingli considered himself to be a conservative reformer, to his opponents he was a revolutionary. He would have threats on his life.

Zwingli did much writing (80 books and tracts in German and 59 in Latin), but the author states that he tended to write quickly and thus they are not as well done as Calvin, for instance. As an example, his Commentary on the True and False Religion was not revised over the years as Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion was.

I found the Lord’s Supper debate between Luther and Zwingli to be particularly interesting. I was familiar with the debate, but not that Luther considered Zwingli to be a notorious heretic. Boekestein writes “The conflict between Luther and Zwingli on the subject of the Lord’s Supper is one of the great disappointments of the Protestant Reformation”.

From 1530 until his death, Zwingli participated in more purely political affairs than he had previously. He was a trained fighter and had no misgivings about employing force to defend the gospel. The author states that he occasionally resorted to unbiblical use of force. Zwingli was killed in the second Kappel War. Zwingli’s successor would be Heinrich Bullinger, who would serve in Zurich for more than forty years.

The book includes no footnotes, which would have been helpful considering all of the information that the author presents. Zwingli’s Sixty-Seven Articles from 1523 are included as an appendix.

I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to learn more about the leaders of the Reformation.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a free review.

Book NewsWhy Not Gay Marriage? In this adaption of an appendix from his new book What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality?, Kevin DeYoung challenges Christians to “Look past the talking points. Read up on the issues. Don’t buy every slogan and don’t own every insult. The challenge before the church is to convince ourselves as much as anyone that believing the Bible does not make us bigots, just as reflecting the times does not make us relevant.”

  • Daniel For You. In the latest book in the “For You” series from the Good Book Company, David Helm opens up the Old Testament book of Daniel showing how it is a book for all times, and particularly for times when our King and His kingdom feel so far away.
  • Free ESV Global Study Bible. Crossway is offering the new ESV Global Study Bible free of charge, accessible via a variety of digital platforms. In providing free access to the Global Study Bible, Crossway wants to equip the global church with theologically rich, gospel-centered content aimed at helping God’s people better understand the Bible and apply it to their own lives. This goal stands at the heart of Crossway’s mission as a not-for-profit ministry and reflects one of our ongoing global ministry initiatives.
  • John Piper on How John Owen Can Help Us Battle Sin and Temptation. Read John Piper’s foreword to John Owen’s Overcoming Sin and Temptationan unabridged modern scholarly edition of Owen’s trilogy with introductions, outlines, glossary, etc.

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