Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

GRIPING VS. CONTENTMENT:

  • 4 Major Gripes Heard Around the Office. Dr. Alan Zimmerman writes “As a speaker in hundreds of companies, I’ve kept a record of the gripes I hear people utter. After all, it’s my job as a speaker/trainer/coach to turn those things around. These are the four most commonly heard gripes these days.”
  • What is Biblical Contentment? Dave Kraft writes “Contentment has less to do with the amount of, or intensity, of the activity you are involved in and more to do with your mind-set. Who are you truly trusting to see things happen in your life, relationships, work and ministry–yourself or God?”

VOCATION AND CALLING:

  • “Job Crafting”: Cultivating Our Vocation at Work. Stevan Becker writes “Cultivating our vocation is a matter of listening to God in the particulars of our work situation and discovering the unique things we’ve been created to do. Cultivating our job may mean taking what we have to work with and recreating
  • How to Glorify God at Work. John Piper writes “The point is: Whatever you do, whether you eat or drink or work, do all to make God look as great as he really is.”
  • Your Calling Actually Isn’t About You. Sharon Hodde Miller writes “At some point, a self-centered calling conflicts with God-centered callings, because God-centered callings always lead to a cross. God-centered callings involve suffering, sacrifice, and looking like a fool, because this is the path of the Savior we follow. If your calling is about your image or your reputation or your comfort and convenience, it will eventually diverge from the path of Christ. At some point, God will ask you to do something that isn’t about you or doesn’t feel good or requires you to suffer, and you will have to make a choice.”
  • Help Me Teach the Bible on Work. The latest episode in Nancy Guthrie’s “Help Me Teach the Bible” is with Peter Orr on work.
  • Top Reasons Why a Long Commute May Be Worth It. Hugh Whelchel writes “Work is necessary for a meaningful life, but we must not make our work themeaning for our existence. As Christians, we must find our identity in Christ, not in our work. Yet, work is the major way we respond to God’s call on our lives. So, no matter the length of your commute, be encouraged that what you do today at work matters!”

REAL LIFE EXAMPLES:

  • God Works in Advertising, Too. Stevan Becker writes “God is intimately involved in our work. He cares about the details. He’s doing his work through the work of our hands—even in the “secular” sales and advertising space. No matter what you do for work, stop and pray through your projects, both the big ones and the small ones. Pray that he will be glorified as you serve him in all you do.”
  • Everybody Matters Podcast: Mark Sawyier of Bonfyre. This episode of the Everybody Matters Podcast features a discussion with Mark Sawyier of Bonfyre, a company who has created a workplace culture platform that is helping organizations engage, include and inspire their people.

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THIS & THAT and Favorite Quotes of the Week

IN THE NEWS:

Courtesy of World Magazine

  • 116 Been Real: Lecrae, “White Evangelicalism,” and Hope.  John Piper writes “My response to Lecrae’s interview with the thoughtful women at Truth’s Table is mainly thankfulness and hope. Why would anyone care about my response? I don’t know that they would. But here’s why they might.”
  • Bible Study Fellowship Rewrites the Rulebook. Deborah Pardo-Kaplan writes “Jackson’s under-40s demographic is the main target of BSF’s recent BRIDGE initiative, a five-year campaign focused on drawing in Bible-friendly millennials but also unengaged ones through social media, new class models, and more studies. While the organization has always wanted to draw from all age groups, it has recently pivoted harder to reach more young adults, a generation BSF leadership feels is growing detached from religion, is less exposed to church, and is increasingly antagonistic toward Christianity and the Bible.”
  • 1 in 3 Protestant Churchgoers Personally Affected by Suicide. Bob Smietana writes “LifeWay’s study found three-quarters (76 percent) of churchgoers say suicide is a problem that needs to be addressed in their community. About a third (32 percent) say a close acquaintance or family member has died by suicide.”

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My Review of Maudie

Maudie, rated PG-13
*** ½

This film features some strong acting performances.  It is newly available on video and based on the true-life story of Maud Lewis, one of the most beloved folk artists of 20th century Canada.
It opens in the late 1930’s and is set in Marshalltown in rural Nova Scotia, a beautiful quaint little town (the film was actually partially shot in Ireland and other parts of Canada). The film is visually stunning as we see the seasons change thanks to the cinematography work of Guy Godfree.

**SPOILER ALERT**
Maud Dowley, played by Oscar nominee Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine), suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, stemming from childhood rheumatic fever. As the film opens Maud is living with her Aunt Ida (Gabrielle Rose). Maud’s brother Charles (Zachery Bennett) is paying Ida to look after Maud. He tells Maud that she is not coming home. As a matter of fact, there is no home to go to, as he has sold the family home. Maud is devastated. Charles then leaves, saying good-bye to Maud, for what appears to be the last time.
We then see Maud, who uncomfortably walks with a limp and with difficulty, sneak out of Ida’s home late at night to go a local club – to listen to music, drink beer and smoke. Ida refers to something that has happened to her in the past; we eventually find out that Maud once had a baby out of wedlock. At the time, Maud was told that the baby was badly deformed and died while she was asleep.
While in the local dry goods store, Maud hears Everette Lewis, a crusty fish peddler played by four-time Oscar nominee Ethan Hawke, indicate that he is looking for a live-in house maid. Maud decides to make the long walk out to Lewis’ small home, which has no plumbing or electricity, to apply for the position which pays 25 cents a week plus room and board. This begins the uncomfortable relationship between Maud and Everette, who can be verbally and physically cruel to her (once telling her that his dogs and chickens were higher in the pecking order than she was).  He usually communicates via grunts.
We eventually see Maud cleaning up and making changes in the sparse one-bedroom home, basically a shack with a bed in an upstairs attic. She starts by painting birds on the walls. She makes dinner for the hard to like Lewis and eventually shares his bed with him. When he tries to have sex with her, she states that they should get married, which they eventually do in a local church. We then see these two people, both orphans and societal outcasts, slowly begin to find comfort in their relationship together.
Maud’s paintings come to the attention of one of Everett’s customers, the likeable and kind Sandra (Kari Matchett), a rich neighbor from New York, who is the first to want to buy Maud’s paintings and small cards. The word eventually spreads about Maud’s paintings, in large part due to a magazine article, and she even receives a request for a painting from then Vice President Richard Nixon. We later see many coming out to the small home to buy her paintings, including brother Charles.
The film is directed by Aisling Walsh and written by Sherry White. Hawkins is incredible in her portrayal of Maud, doing an amazing job portraying the physical challenges of her character, which only increase as she ages. Hawke portrays Lewis well, as a man who is much harder for us to like and who finds it hard to show his love for Maud.
The film is rated PG-13 for brief scenes of sexuality (nothing explicit is shown). In addition, God’s name is abused once.
Check out this well-acted and sweet film about the unconventional love story of Maud and Everette Lewis. You won’t regret it.


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My Review of Calvin’s A Little Book on the Christian Life

A Little Book on the Christian Life by John Calvin. Translated by Burk Parsons and Aaron Denlinger.  Reformation Trust Publishing. 132 pages. 2017 
****

This short book on the Christian life is extracted from the second edition (1539) of John Calvin’s classic book Institutes of the Christian Religion. Parsons and Denlinger have given us an excellent new translation of the book, based upon the final and definitive Latin edition of the Institutes. The translators have striven to make Calvin’s meaning as clear as possible to English readers.
Calvin’s goal with the book was simply to present to godly people a model for ordering their lives. His purpose in this work is to present doctrine simply and concisely. He writes that the goal of God’s work in us is to bring our lives into harmony and agreement with His own righteousness, and so to manifest to ourselves and others our identity as His adopted children.
He tells us that there are two main parts to the instruction from Scripture on the Christian life that he will address. The first is that a love of righteousness—to which we are not naturally prone—must be implanted and poured into our hearts. The second is that we need some model that will keep us from losing our way in our pursuit of righteousness.
Calvin covers a number of themes in this short book, among them the holiness of God, doctrine, God’s Law, self-denial, uprightness and godliness, the cross, suffering and affliction, endurance and our calling.
This is a wonderful new translation of a classic from Calvin. Highly recommended reading in celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

Calvin’s Chair

30 Quotes from A Little Book on the Christian Life by John Calvin. Translated by Burk Parsons and Aaron Denlinger 

  • When we contemplate this relationship between ourselves and God, let us remember that holiness is the bond of our union with Him.
  • Holiness is the goal of our calling. Therefore, we must consistently set our sights upon holiness if we would rightly respond to God’s calling.
  • Scripture tells us that God the Father, who has reconciled us to Himself in His Anointed One, Jesus Christ, has given us in Christ a model to which we should conform our lives.
  • Doctrine is rightly received when it takes possession of the entire soul and finds a dwelling place and shelter in the most intimate affections of the heart. In order for doctrine to be fruitful to us, it must overflow into our hearts, spread into our daily routines, and truly transform us within.
  • Right living has a spiritual basis where the inner affection of the soul is sincerely devoted to God for the nurture of holiness and righteousness.
  • The Law of the Lord is the best and most suitable instruction for the proper ordering of our lives.
  • Once self-denial has occupied the heart, it crowds out the evils of pride, arrogance, and pretentiousness as well as greed, lust, gluttony, cowardice, and everything else that is born of self-love. On the other hand, where self-denial does not reign, the worst vices thrive shamelessly.
  • The proper use, then, of all the good gifts we have received is the free and generous sharing of those gifts with others.
  • Scripture teaches us that all the gifts we utilize are given to us by God.
  • You have no cause to evade anyone who stands before you and needs your service.
  • We should always look to the Lord, that by His care we might be led to whatever lot in life He provides for us.
  • No one, then, has properly denied himself except the one who has entirely abandoned himself to the Lord so that every aspect of his life will be governed by His will.
  • For those whom the Lord has chosen and condescended to welcome into fellowship with Him should prepare themselves for a life that is hard, laborious, troubled, and full of many and various kinds of evil. For it’s the will of their heavenly Father to test them in this way so that He might prove them by trials.
  • God has promised believers that He will be with them in times of suffering.
  • There is, then, good reason for difficult circumstances in the lives of the saints, since they create endurance in them.
  • Scripture supplies a more profound reason for us when it teaches that in adverse circumstances we’re being disciplined by the Lord so that we won’t be condemned with the world.
  • Whether we suffer poverty, exile, imprisonment, contempt, sickness, childlessness, or any such thing, let us remember that nothing happens apart from God’s pleasure and providence, and that God Himself does nothing that isn’t perfectly in order.
  • If it’s clear that tribulations work toward our salvation, shouldn’t we accept them with a grateful and calm spirit? In bearing them with endurance, we’re not yielding to necessity, but we’re assenting to our own good.
  • In whatever trouble comes to us, we should always set our eyes on God’s purpose to train us to think little of this present life and inspire us to think more about the future life.
  • There’s no middle ground between these two things: either earth must become worthless to us, or we must remain bound by the chains of extravagant love for it. If, then, we care for eternity, we must make every effort to free ourselves from those chains.
  • This life, though bursting at the seams with every kind of misery, should still be considered one of God’s blessings that shouldn’t be dismissed.
  • The Lord has so ordered things that those who will one day be crowned in heaven will first encounter struggles on earth.
  • No one has made much progress in the school of Christ who doesn’t look forward joyfully both to his death and the day of his final resurrection.
  • The cross of Christ finally triumphs in believers’ hearts—over the devil, the flesh, sin, and the wicked—when their eyes are turned to the power of the resurrection.
  • Scripture teaches that everything we own—everything appointed for our benefit—has been given to us by God’s kindness, so that all that we own is like a deposit for which we must one day give an account.
  • He has ordained particular duties to each one in his station in life. And so that no one should overstep his boundaries, He has identified various stations in life as callings.
  • Every individual’s rank in life, therefore, is a kind of post assigned to him by the Lord, to keep him from rushing about rashly for the whole of his life.
  • The one who doesn’t frame his actions with reference to his calling will never keep the right course in his duties.
  • Consequently, the one who directs himself toward the goal of observing God’s calling will have a life well composed.
  • For every work performed in obedience to one’s calling, no matter how ordinary and common, is radiant—most valuable in the eyes of our Lord.


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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

All Things Work Together – Lecrae
****

This highly anticipated major label debut from Lecrae is his first album since January 2016’s mixtape Church Clothes 3, and it doesn’t disappoint. Beginning in October, 2016, six songs were released in advance of the album’s release, building excitement. The album title is taken from Romans 8:28: And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. Lecrae has stated that the idea of the album is that the dark times have worked together for him to become the person he is today.
This hard-hitting and honest album is strong from start to finish and features Lecrae collaborating with many different artists. It is a mature work, Lecrae’s best album, and my top album of the year thus far.
Here are a few brief comments about each song on this strong release:

Always Knew – This song was produced by Ramon “REO” Owen and written by Owen and Lecrae. He dedicates it to those, especially the Lord, who have helped him through the highs and lows. Key lyric: Listen, I know God did it, can’t take the credit, paid off all of my debts, but I still feel so indebted.   
Facts
– This song was produced by Dem Jointz and written by Jointz and Lecrae. In hard-hitting lyrics, he states that he’s been waiting for the right time to tell us how he feels. He loves God and Jesus, who died for the world, not just the USA. Key lyric: I ain’t really changed, it’s the same rebel.  
Broke
– This song was produced by Boi-1da and T-Minus, written by Perfekt, Nikhil “Kromatik” Seetharam, Boi-1da, T-Minus and Lecrae and features Perfekt. The song looks at how money may have made him richer, but the struggle got him richer than he’s ever been. Key lyric: Being broke made me rich
Blessings
– This song is produced by Pluss and features Ty Dolla $ign. It was written by Pluss, Verse Simmonds, Swoope, Ty Dolla $ign and Lecrae. The song is about gratefulness and appreciating the little things in life. It features a slow beat that sounds better every time you hear it. Key lyric: If you woke up this morning it’s a blessing.  
Watchu Mean
– This song is produced by the Go Grizzly. It features Reach Records newest signee Aha Gazelle, and is written by Gazelle and Lecrae. This song has a great vibe as Lecrae and Gazelle go back and forth lots of sports and musical references.
Hammer Time – This song is produced by Metro Boomin and features 1k Phew. It is written by Boomin, 1k Phew and Lecrae. The song samples MC Hammer’s 1990 song “U Can’t Touch This”.  The song has an infectious beat. Key lyric: I ain’t perfect, I’m just purchased.  
Come and Get Me –  This song is produced by DJ Dahl and Dernst “D’Mile” Emile II and they write it with Lecrae. It features a great beat throughout. He knows the devil is trying to stop him. He states confidently he’s not scared of the haters, he only fears the IRS and God. What he’s saying is nothing new. Key lyric: Look, I’ve been trying to tell them since 04’-05’ (that’s Real Talk). Still, you know these people doubt me every time.  
Lucked Up –  This song is produced by Tariq Beats and DJ Khalil and they write it with Nija Aisha-Alayia Charles, John Groover, Michael R. Cook Jr. and Lecrae. This is a love song for his wife, and features vocals from Nija Aisha-Alayia Charles. Continue reading


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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS


God and the Transgender Debate: What does the Bible actually say about gender identity? by Andrew T. Walker. The Good Book Company. 145 pages. 2017
****

In the Foreword, Albert Mohler writes that the transgender revolution represents one of the most difficult pastoral challenges that churches in this generation will face. He states that the sexual revolution poses challenges that are not simply going to disappear. The church must be ready to meet these challenges with biblical fidelity and Christ-like compassion.
The author states that all of us need an answer to questions such as: Can a man become a woman? Can a woman become a man? How and when should children be confronted with the debates about gender? What are we to do with children who are a member of one biological sex but feel as though they were born in the wrong body? What do we say to someone experiencing these feelings and desires? How do we love and help those who are deeply hurting?  This short, but helpful, book is intended to help with those questions.
Making sure we understand the terms involved is important. The author defines gender identity as a person’s self-perception of whether they are male or female, masculine or feminine.  He states that when someone experiences distress, inner anguish, or discomfort from sensing a conflict between their gender identity and their biological sex, that person is experiencing gender dysphoria—a mismatch between the gender that matches their biological sex and the gender that they feel themselves to be. He writes that it is crucial to understand that this is a genuine and unchosen experience. It is never something that someone should just “get over”.
Is gender dysphoria sinful? He writes that to feel that your body is one sex and your self is a different gender is not sinful. However, deciding to let that feeling rule—to feed that feeling so that it becomes the way you see yourself and the way you identify yourself and the way you act—is sinful, because it is deciding that your feelings will have authority over you, and will define what is right and what is wrong.  He states that experiencing gender dysphoria does not mean you are not a Christian. Someone can embrace a transgender identity, or find their identity in Christ, but not both.
He writes that people who identify as transgender report disproportionately higher rates of mental-health problems than the rest of the general population, including depression, suicide, and thoughts of suicide. Continue reading


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THIS & THAT and Favorite Quotes of the Week

  • “Should I Force My Teen to Go to Church?” R.C. Sproul writes “I would encourage you to make it a special point of concern to do everything in your power to get your kids to church and to make it an attractive time for them rather than a bad experience.”
  • What Should We Say to the Loved Ones of an Unbeliever Who Has Died? Randy Alcorn writes “What might help you personally on this—and I have reassured myself about this many times—is to realize that we do not know what happens inside a person before they die. We don’t know whether the Holy Spirit of God has done a work of grace in someone’s heart and life at the last moment. They may have been aware of the hours, minutes, and even just seconds leading up to their death and cried out to God for deliverance. The thief on the cross proves that “deathbed conversion” is certainly possible. And if someone is unable to speak, or too weak to respond, those around them would not know of that conversion. We may be surprised and delighted to one day see them in the presence of Christ.”
  • Can Unbelievers Do Good Deeds?   R.C. Sproul writes “Even our finest works have a taint of sin mixed in. I have never done an act of charity, of sacrifice, or of heroism that came from a heart, a soul, and a mind that loved God completely. Externally, many virtuous acts are going on both among believers and unbelievers, but God considers both the external obedience and the motivation. Under that tight norm of judgment, we’re in trouble.”

  • My Amazon Reviews. Check out more than 300 of my Amazon reviews, mostly books and music.
  • Fixer Upper to End. Chip and Joanna Gaines announce that the upcoming season 5 of the popular television series Fixer Upper will be their last.      
  • Two Faith-Based Movies Announced for 2018. MOVIEGUIDE writes “The first is a follow-up to Angelina Jolie’s adaptation of Unbroken, about the life of WWII hero Louis Zamperini. This movie, however, is being distributed by Pure Flix Entertainment and will focus primarily on the portion of the story that was glossed over in Jolie’s movie: Zamperini’s conversion to Christianity. The second movie to be released in 2018, also currently filming, is Paul: Apostle of Christ, from Sony Picture Entertainment’s faith-based branch, Affirm Films. Jim Caviezel, who played Jesus in the highest grossing faith-based movie of all time, The Passion of the Christ, will play the biblical character of Luke. The movie also stars John Lynch and James Faulkner as the Apostle Paul.”
  • The Real Story of Christianity and Abortion. Albert Mohler writes “Let there be no confusion on this question. The Bible reveals the sanctity of all human life, the early church affirmed the sanctity of every human life, and anyone who performs an abortion is not “doing God’s work.”
  • Kurt Warner: Football Hall of Fame Inductee and Lover of Jesus. Meredee Berg writes “But Warner made clear that those people were wrong. What he was really thanking God for were the trials that had prepared him for that moment and that platform—for showing him that with God, the impossible becomes possible. He truly believed that God had chosen him for a once-in-a-lifetime role.”
  • Matt Chandler’s Village Church Ends Multisite Era. Kate Shellnutt writes “the Village Church, the multisite Texas megachurch led by Matt Chandler, will transition from several campuses across the Dallas–Fort Worth (DFW) metroplex to individual autonomous churches within the next five years, leaving behind a multisite model for a deeper commitment to local ministry and church planting.”

    Courtesy of World Magazine

TO MAKE YOU SMILE:

  • Amazing! It Took A Few Years, But Tebowing Has Finally Taken Over The NFLThe Babylon Beereports “The act of Tebowing became well-known nationwide, but never really caught on with fellow NFL players, as Tebow obviously hoped it would. Well, guess what? All these years later,Tebowing has taken the NFL by storm.”
  • New Calvinist Baskin-Robbins Offers Customers One Preselected Flavor To Choose From. The Babylon Beereports “One woman recently attempted to order her favorite flavor of Daquiri Ice at the Reformation Bible College in Sanford, Florida, but was informed that Mint Chocolate Chip had been chosen from her as the Lord looked down the corridors of time and selected the flavor she would choose. “I don’t really like mint chocolate chip, but if that’s the Lord’s will, I will partake from the cup He has chosen for me,” she reportedly said, before being informed that God had chosen a waffle cone for her instead of a cup. “Oh, OK. That’s fine too.”

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