Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


Leave a comment

BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS


Pray Big: Learn to Pray Like an Apostle by Alistair Begg. The Good Book Company. 112 pages. 2019
****

The author, a respected pastor, writes that he wants to pray bigger, and better, and he wants his readers to enjoy praying like that too. To do that, we need to discover how to pray as the Apostle Paul did, which means we need to learn to believe what Paul did. Paul was a man who knew to whom he was praying. The author focuses on Paul’s prayers for his friends in the church in Ephesus, which he recounts to them in Ephesians 1: 15-23 and 3: 14-21. Paul wrote the letter to the Ephesians from prison. The truths that underpin and shape Paul’s prayers will motivate us to pray, and they will help us know what to say.
To pray is an admission and an expression of dependence. Real prayer is from a dependent person to a divine Person. Our conversation with others declares what is on our minds, but our conversation with God in private reveals what is in our hearts. Prayer reminds us who we are, and who our Father is. We come to a loving Father, but we do not come as his equal. The author mentions a few times that all that matters may be brought before God, but what we bring before God is not always what matters most.
The book is organized around five great qualities for which Paul prays for his Ephesian brothers and sisters.  They are:

  • Pray for Focus
  • Pray for Hope
  • Pray for Riches
  • Pray for Power
  • Pray for Love

The author asks how might our prayer life be transformed if we used the headings of this book to shape our prayers.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review…and reviews of
 ~ Saving the Reformation: The Pastoral Theology of the Canons of Dort by W. Robert Godfrey
 ~ Sanctification: God’s Passion for His People by John MacArthur
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur
I’M CURRENTLY READING…. Continue reading


Leave a comment

My Review of I STILL BELIEVE

I Still Believe
** ½

I Still Believe, new on home video, is based on the true story of Contemporary Christian Music artist Jeremy Camp’s relationship with Melissa Henning. It is a story of sacrificial love, disappointment, suffering, loss and hope. The film was directed by the Erwin Brothers, Andrew and Jon (I Can Only Imagine, Mom’s Night Out, October Baby). The film was written by Jon Erwin and Jon Gunn (The Case for Christ).
The film opens at the Camp home in Lafayette, Indiana. Jeremy, played by K.J. Apa (Riverdale) is getting ready to leave for college, leaving behind his parents Tom, a pastor who drives a Pizza King car played by Oscar nominee Gary Sinese (Forrest Gump), and Terry, played by country music artist Shania Twain and his two younger brothers. They give him a beautiful new guitar just before he boards the bus for his California college.
On Jeremy’s first night on campus he attends a concert by Jean-Luc, played by Nathan Parsons (General Hospital). Jeremy sneaks backstage before the concert and introduces himself to the artist, and asks him for advice on how to “make it” in the music industry. This leads Jean-Luc to ask him to tune his guitar. That night, when bringing a guitar on stage, Jeremy sees Melissa Henning, played by Britt Robertson (TomorrowlandThe Space Between Us) in the audience. He seeks her out after the show. Continue reading


3 Comments

A Prayer for the Pandemic

Father in Heaven,

We are facing challenges that none of us have ever faced before in our lifetime. Many of us are only leaving our homes for essential tasks, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy. Many of us are now working from home. Schools are closed, with students completing their school year at home. We are following the guidelines from our government leaders and medical experts to stop the spread of the coronavirus by practicing social distancing.  Many of us have not seen family members for weeks. Churches have not been able to gather for worship, and sadly will not be able to meet for worship on Easter Sunday. We pray for our pastors as they adapt to leading in a new way, including live-streaming the worship services.
Father, we turn to you to help us against the spirit of fear and anxiety. We pray that you would protect people worldwide from getting this virus. For those who do get it, we pray for complete healing. For those most at risk, those who are older and/or have serious health issues, we pray for special protection. We pray for those doctors and nurses, techs and EMT’s on the front line, bravely risking their own safety each day to care for us.  We pray that hospitals will be able to obtain the amount of masks, gloves, gowns and ventilators that they will need to protect their health care workers.
We pray for our families, our churches and our friends. We miss being able to be with them at this time. Please heal our land, LORD! Use this unique time in our lives as we distance ourselves from other people to draw us closer to You.
We ask these things in Jesus name, Amen.

“Be still, my soul: your God will undertake
to guide the future as he has the past.
Your hope, your confidence let nothing shake;
all now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
his voice who ruled them while he dwelt below.”

“Be Still, My Soul” (Katharina von Schlegel, 1855; Translated by Jane Bothwick)


Leave a comment

My Review of THE WAY BACK

The Way Back, rated R
** ½

The Way Back is about a former star athlete returning to his high school to coach the basketball team. The film, featuring a strong performance from Ben Affleck, deals with serious themes and contains a significant amount of adult language. The film is directed by Gavin O’Connor (The Accountant), and written by Brad Ingelsby (Out of the Furnace).
Jack Cunningham, played by two-time Oscar winner Ben Affleck (Good Will Hunting, Argo), works on a construction site. He pours alcohol into his coffee mug on the site and stops at a bar on the way home each night. His sister Beth, played by Michaela Watkins, is concerned with his drinking as we see him being often helped home by the same old man who used to carry his father home drunk from the same bar.
Jack was once a star basketball player at Bishop Hayes, leading his team to the state championship and being named player of the year 1993-1995. But he turned down a college scholarship, and hasn’t touched a basketball since.
Out of the blue, Jack gets a call from Father Edward Devine, played by John Aylward, the head priest at his alma mater. The basketball coach has had a heart attack, and will not be returning. Father Devine asks Jack if he would take over as the coach of a team that is quite frankly not very good. In fact, the last time the team made the playoffs was 25 years ago, when Jack was playing. Jack’s immediate response is to turn the priest down, but Father Devine asks him to think about it, and let him know in the morning as the team has a game in a few days. On a painful night to watch, we see Jack drink a 12 pack of beer as he repeatedly rehearses his call to Father Devine, but then surprisingly he accepts the position. Continue reading


Leave a comment

THIS & THAT: A Weekly Roundup of Favorite Articles, Cartoon, & Quotes

  • Coronavirus and Christ. Here are some resources on the Coronavirus from John Piper and Desiring God.
  • 4 Principles to Remember When Talking to Your Children about Coronavirus. Brad Hambrick offers these helpful thoughts on how to talk to your children about the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The Coronavirus is a Result of the Fall. Kevin DeYoung writes “The coronavirus is a natural evil, under God’s providential control to be sure, but whose existence is the result of original sin. The root of all human pain and suffering in the world is the rebellion of our first parents—a rebellion that Christ conquered on the cross and will one day wipe away, along with all its sad and sinister effects.”
  • God Doesn’t Want Us to Sacrifice the Old. Russell Moore writes “This pandemic will change us, change our economy, our culture, our priorities, our personal lives. That we cannot avoid. But let’s remember: One day we will tell our grandchildren how we lived, how we loved, during the Great Pandemic. Let’s respect human life in such a way that we will not be ashamed to tell them the truth.”
  • Peace in a Pandemic. Listen to this sermon from David Platt from Proverbs 12:25 and Matthew 6:25-34.

Things to Do While Forced to Stay at Home

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

  • More interesting article links
  • Cartoon of the Week
  • Favorite Quotes of the Week

Continue reading


1 Comment

FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

  • Working Remotely for the Glory of God. Joe Holland writes “Without question, workspaces around the globe will be forever changed by this virus. But it doesn’t have to be for ill.”
  • A Prayer for Working from Home. Will Sorrell offers this helpful and timely prayer for those suddenly having to work from home.
  • Understanding How Men and Women Approach Family Life and Work. Courtney Reissig writes “As a Christian, there are overarching principles that can help us in understanding our fellow brothers and sisters as they work and parent. These principles may also help us as we live in community with one another in our local churches, allowing for freedom and nuance regarding our work and family life balance.”
  • Are You an Ideal Team Player? Patrick Lencioni thinks it is time to change the way we prepare people for success. Drawing from his book, The Ideal Team Player, Lencioni makes the compelling case that the key to success in an increasingly team-oriented world is being humble, hungry and smart. Whether you’re a CEO or a 7th grader, focusing on these deceptively simple virtues can radically improve your personal and professional effectiveness and fulfillment.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

  • More links to interesting articles
  • The Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week
  • My Review of
    • The Motive: Why So Many Leaders Abdicate Their Most Important Responsibilities by Patrick Lencioni
    • Lead Like Jesus: Lessons from the Greatest Leadership Role Model of All Time by Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges
  • Snippets from Os Guinness’ book “The Call: Finding and Fulfilling God’s Purpose For Your Life”

Continue reading


Leave a comment

Find Work That Will Allow You to Play to Your Strengths

Have you ever had work that just drained or weakened you? Perhaps it was an activity or a particular meeting that you just dreaded? Years ago, for me it was strategic planning sessions. I really dreaded them.
In 2007 Marcus Buckingham published his book Go Put Your Strengths to Work: 6 Powerful Steps to Achieve Outstanding Performance. In a sea of business and professional development books, this was a book that really resonated with me. I read it once on my own, and then two more times in book clubs. In addition, our team watched a companion video titled “Trombone Player Wanted”.
Around that same time, our organization had a helpful “Building Leadership Skills” program, in which leadership and non-leadership associates who wanted to grow in their leadership skills read and discussed Buckingham’s book The Truth About You: Your Secret to Success as a group. That book was an abridged version of Go Put Your Strengths to Work. Our organization (and I) was “all in” on Buckingham’s “Strengths Revolution”.
Although there was a lot of excellent information in these books, here’s what I remember, and what continues to be helpful, more than ten years later. Some work (activities) strengthen us, and some weaken us. What strengthens me, may weaken you. Our goal should be to find work that strengthens us (lets us play to our strengths) as much of the time as possible.
In the books, Buckingham has you record all of your work activities (meetings, etc.) for a period of time (a week or two). After each activity is completed, you indicate whether the activity strengthened you or weakened you. Based on this information, you develop strength and weakness statements. That activity was eye-opening for me. Yes, strategic planning sessions really weakened me. Working with team members and mentees who were proactive about their development definitely strengthened me. Although we can rarely design a job completely to our specifications, this exercise helped me to find work for myself, and others, that would strengthen them.
I can clearly remember watching “Trombone Player Wanted” with my team. It was clear that some were excited about the concepts discussed, while others felt it was just the next “flavor of the month”, and they tuned out. For one team member, Del,  it helped him understand why he wasn’t successful on a particular assignment, and what work he needed to find to be successful at. Another team member, Jim, really bought into the strengths movement as well. Jim and I would continue to work together for the much of the next eleven years, and we would often talk about work that either strengthened him or weakened him.
We are all wired differently. The work that strengthens you, may weaken me. I recommend that you check out these books by Marcus Buckingham to help find the work that strengthens you.