Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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Discerning Whether Someone is a True Believer


In our church, if someone wishes to pursue membership, they meet with two elders. The purpose of the meeting is to discern, as much as humanly possible, whether the individual is a Christian. I really enjoy these meetings in which we get to hear how the Lord has worked in someone’s life. It’s one of my favorite responsibilities of being an elder.
In a recent meeting, the person we were meeting with asked us a very interesting question. He asked what we thought about when public figures professed to be Christian, but their public behavior didn’t seem to align with that of a Christian? We each provided our answer, but I’ve continued to give the question some thought. Although we can never truly know someone’s heart, only God does (Acts 15:8), here are three thoughts to help us in discerning whether someone is a believer. Continue reading

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Are People Surprised When They Find Out You Are a Christian?

Recently, I read David Goetsch’s book Christians on the Job: Winning at Work without Compromising Your Faith. This is a good book that I would recommend to Christians on how to integrate their faith with their work.
One comment in the book stood out as I read it. The author writes: “Have you ever worked with someone and been surprised to learn he or she is a believer? How did this make you feel about the individual in question?” Immediately my mind went back to a time early in my career. Continue reading


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Leadership Courage


I used to regularly get feedback indicating that “Bill doesn’t like conflict”. Well, I’m not sure many people really like conflict, but I do know that if you avoid situations because you don’t want to deal with conflict due to a lack of leadership courage it can result in other problems. In fact, Patrick Lencioni has written that the fear of conflict is almost always a sign of problems.
In the organization that I worked at as a leader for nearly 38 years, we often talked about leadership courage, especially in evaluating emerging leaders. But what do we mean by leadership courage?
John Maxwell has said that he has never known a successful leader who was not courageous. He states that courage is an essential quality for a leader. Samantha Pena has written that a courageous leader is someone who constantly asks themselves if they are being courageous enough, who are willing to make difficult decisions and do not back down when things get too hard.

Leaders who consistently demonstrate leadership courage model these 5 traits:

  • Confront reality. Leaders need to be able to assess their environment effectively and then lead based on the current reality. They have to be able to adjust their thinking and approach based on current conditions.
  • Change agent. Leaders who have leadership courage are comfortable driving change, are not afraid to challenge the status quo and take calculated risks. Susan Pearse writes “Without courage you can’t have the right conversations that lead to change. Without courage you won’t even get off the starting block as a leader.”
  • Open and honest communication. Leaders must be able to deliver the difficult messages about change in their organization, even if they may personally disagree with them.
  • Honest performance feedback. Not being honest about a team member’s performance appears to be kind, but it’s really not. Not being honest doesn’t do the team member nor the organization any favors. Giving a team member a better than deserved performance evaluation is not being fair to them, because eventually they will encounter a good leader who will be honest with them. Give them honest feedback that will help them to address any performance issues they may have.
  • Go back. There are times when a leader must show leadership courage and go back on a decision they have made when it becomes obvious that the decision was wrong. This also takes humility, a trait of all great leaders.

These are just 5 traits of leaders who consistently demonstrate leadership courage. What would you add to the list?


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Character in Action


When we look to do business with an organization, we look to work with people in that organization that have both competency and character. First, we need people who know their jobs, and have the skills and experience to take care of what we need them to do for us. Second, and every bit as important, if not more so, we need them to be honest, have integrity and be people of character. A definition that I have used for character for many years is doing the right thing when nobody is watching. Carey Nieuwhof writes in his new book Didn’t See It Coming, that all the competency in the world can’t compensate for a lack of character.
My wife and I recently had an unexpected encounter with a person in a service profession who demonstrated honesty, integrity and character.  An indicator light in Tammy’s car showed that the front left tire was running low. That was surprising as she had bought four new tires just five months ago. After adding air to the tire, we noticed a bubble in it so she set up an appointment to get the tire replaced. What happened next was a true demonstration of honesty, integrity and character. Continue reading


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Battling Our Fear of Failure


I have struggled with a fear of failure for as long as I can remember. Several years ago I read Dr. Alan Zimmerman’s book Pivot: How One Turn in Attitude Can Lead to Success with a team member. I remember joking as we started the book that it was funny that two positive people with good attitudes were reading a book about attitude. However, as it turned out, Dr. Zimmerman included chapters about worry and failure in the book. I have to admit that I worry about failing. My wife can tell you that I tended to stress about each new class at seminary after receiving the syllabus. After looking it over and feeling overwhelmed before class even started, I thought there was just no way I was going to be able to do it. How could I, working 50+ hours a week, possibly do well on a mid-term and final exam, do all of the required reading, write a paper, etc.?

How about you? Do you have a fear of failure? Do you worry about failing? Continue reading


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MUSIC REVIEWS

His Mercy is More: The Hymns of Matt Boswell and Matt Papa
****

This is the first time hymnwriters Matt Boswell and Matt Papa have recorded an album together. Recorded live with a full band and the voices of the audience worshipping with them, His Mercy is More: The Hymns of Matt Boswell and Matt Papa is a gift to the church. The album includes some well-known hymns that are sung in churches such as “His Mercy is More”, “Christ the Sure and Steady Anchor” and “Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery”, as well as some hymns that have not been previously recorded. The two have been writing together for the past 10-12 years. This album will be on my list of top albums for the year.
Below are a few comments about each song:
His Mercy is More – This song was written by Matt Boswell and Matt Papa and inspired from one of John Newton’s letters.
Key lyric:
Praise the Lord!
His mercy is more.
Stronger than darkness; new every morn;
Our sins, they are many, His mercy is more.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

  • More of this review and Reviews of The Search by NF, and Wilder Wood by Wilder Woods
  • Music Quotes
  • Song of the Week Lyrics

Continue reading


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BOOK REVIEWS

Book Reviews
The Generosity Factor: Discover the Joy of Giving Your Time, Talent, and Treasure by Ken Blanchard and Truett Cathy. Zondervan. 138 pages. 2009
****

This book, about stewardship and the joy we can find in giving, is written like most of Ken Blanchard’s books, communicating his messages through a leadership fable. Blanchard wrote the book with Truett Cathy. Those familiar with the life of the Chick Fil-A founder will recognize many things in the book that point to his life and the culture of Chick Fil-A.
In the book, we are introduced to a few primary characters. First, we meet the Broker, a young man who has a successful online brokerage house. But he rejected his father’s attempts to instill an old-fashioned work ethic in him. He is disgusted by an unkempt Bag Lady who he sees daily outside of his high-rise, eventually calling the police on her.
We also meet the Broker’s Driver, who served time as a young man, but benefitted significantly from the Teacher, who poured her life into the young men in the institution. As a result, today the Driver is known as a gentle, caring man, a father and husband.
We are introduced to the Executive, who built a multi-state chain of auto parts and service centers from a simple idea in a single location. He now has more than eight hundred auto service centers and parts outlets scattered throughout the southwestern United States.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
More of this review… and reviews of the books…
**Everybody, Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People by Bob Goff
**In the Year of Our Lord: Reflections on Twenty Centuries of Church History by Sinclair B. Ferguson
See What I’M CURRENTLY READING…. Continue reading