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Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

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Music Review for Saints and Sinners

Saints and Sinners – Matt Maher (Deluxe Edition)
I was only vaguely familiar with Maher before seeing him open for Toby Mac last December. It was at that concert that I first heard “Because He Lives (Amen)”, which has been one of my favorite songs since that time. The original studio version of the song, as well as an unplugged version, appear on this new album.

It was years after I first enjoyed Chris Tomlin’s versions of “Your Grace is Enough” and “Lord, I Need You” that I found out that they had been written by Maher, who is a Roman Catholic, a rarity in contemporary Christian music. I much enjoyed last year’s All the People Said Amen, a live album of some of his most popular songs live with a few new ones mixed in.

The album title comes from an Oscar Wilde quote: “Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future”. This is somewhat of a concept album. I picked up the phrase “saints and sinners” in the lyrics of a few of the songs. Many of the songs were inspired by saints and sinners such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Archbishop Oscar Romero, St. Therese of Lisieux, Bill Gaither, Mother Theresa, Maher’s grandmother and St. Francis. The album was produced by Paul Moak.

The deluxe edition of this new album includes nineteen songs. Here are a few comments or lyrics about each of them:

“The Field of Stars” – a less than a minute opener which features the album’s title in the lyrics.

“Future Not My Own” – features a heavy drum and bass sound. It was inspired by martyr Archbishop Oscar Romero.

This is a great unknown
Love is a long and narrow road
Come chase this heart of stone
I need a future not my own

“Deliverer” – co-written with Bo and Bear Rinehart of NEEDTOBREATHE. An upbeat song with interesting vocal inflections from Maher.

My God, from the flood and from the fire
You brought me out, I am alive
With a faith, just like a child
I’m not afraid, I’m running wildSaints and Sinners by Matt Maher
For everything that will be done
I am yours and you are my

“Glory Bound” – an upbeat modern country hand-clapper that is sure to be a favorite in concert.

Well I don’t know which way you’re going
And I don’t know if you’re lost or found
All that I know is you’ve been forgiven
I tell you this train is glory bound

So come on make some room in your heart for mercy
Come on make some room for a little grace
Come on make some room for the sinners and the saints

“Land of My Father” – upbeat and joyous. Another one that will be a good one to sing along with in concert, especially the chorus:

Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty
We sing Holy, Holy, my eyes have seen the glory
Of the great God Almighty

“Everything is Grace” – drums are dominant on this song. Maher pours out his grateful heart to the Lord on this song which features the words of St. Therese of Lisieux.

Whatever comes my way
I will walk through the flames
You’re turning my fear to faith
My doubt to praise
And everything is grace

“The Invocation” – a short prayer featuring piano and strings. Mentions “sons and daughters”, which is the title of the next song.

“Sons and Daughters” – portions of speeches from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. are featured on this song which Maher wrote with Jason Ingram and Ike Ndolo, the latter of which lived in Missouri during the Civil Rights movement.

All my brothers help each other
All my sisters walk together
No one is a stranger
We’re all sons and daughters

“Firelight” – this has a bit of a bluegrass feel, featuring excellent drums. It was inspired by words from Mother Teresa to be lights in the darkness.

If anyone remembers my name
If I’m ever known for anything
Let it be I ran into the night
Running with a firelight, firelight

“Instrument” – co-written with Jon Foreman of Switchfoot. I enjoyed the piano and strings. It begins as an intimate song; the drum beat kicks and leads to a powerful prayerful chorus and then back to an intimate ending.

To the Father and the Son
And the Holy Spirit, three in One
I offer you myself, though I’m broken and spent
Let me be Your instrument
Let me be Your instrument

“Abide with Me” – one of our pastors is leading a study on abiding, so this song is timely for me especially as we prepare to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord. It’s a beautiful piano driven prayerful song.

Abide with me, abide with me
Don’t let me fall, and don’t let go
Walk with me and never leave
Ever close, God abide with me

“The Waiting” – a short piano driven meditation. Maher again mentions sinners and the saints in the lyrics.

Because He Lives (Amen) – the first single. One of my favorite songs of the past few months, it is inspired by Bill Gaither’s classic song “Because He Lives”.

Amen, Amen
I’m alive, I’m alive
Because He lives
Amen, Amen
Let my song join the one that never ends
Because He lives

“Rest” – an acoustic guitar driven song. It features background vocals from the Vespers and is based on Psalm 23. It was written during a time when Maher’s grandmother’s health was failing.

You restore my soul and You give me rest

“Borrowed Time” – an upbeat song featuring piano and drums about the urgency to start living because we are living on borrowed time. Another that will sound good in concert.

“Because of You” – a prayer to the Lord saying that everything we have is because of the Lord. Excellent drums and bass on this song.

If I shine it’s because of You
If I love it’s because of You
If I’m strong it’s because of You
It’s all because of You

“Garden” – recorded live. Starts with just an acoustic guitar and then builds; it showcases Maher’s piano playing.

And You walk with me
You never leave
You’re making my heart a garden

Because He Lives (Amen) – an unplugged version of a wonderful song featuring his excellent piano playing.

This is an excellent album, with excellent lyrics and diverse and creative musical arrangements. It will be one of my top albums for 2015.

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This and That ~ Favorite Quotes of the Week

This and That

  • WATCH FOR FREE ONLINE! Pilgrims in Progress: 2015 Regional Conference Video Available. You can now watch or listen to the messages from the Ligonier Ministries 2015 Regional Conference Pilgrims in Progress in the San Francisco Bay area. Drs. W. Robert Godfrey, Steven J. Lawson, R.C. Sproul Jr., and Derek Thomas joined us to talk about what our heavenly citizenship means for our earthly pilgrimage, our pursuit of truth, and our future hope, among other topics
  • A FREE Ligonier Connect Course with John Piper. Ligonier Ministries is offering John Piper’s “When I Don’t Desire God” course free via their Ligonier Connect program.
  • R.C. Sproul Answers Questions Via Twitter. You can follow the conversation here.
  • 2015 Gospel Coalition Conference. The conference is sold-out. Sign up to watch the livestream.
  • Inerrancy Summit: Breakout Seminars. Nathan Busenitz shares links to the audio of the breakout seminar sessions from the recent Inerrancy Summit, one of which is from Steven Lawson.  
  • 5 FREE Classes on Ethics. Andy Naselli shares five free thought-provoking courses that he listened to in preparing to teach his own course, including one from David Jones at Covenant Seminary. I attended Dan Doriani’s ethics course at Covenant Seminary, a challenging and excellent course
  • FREE Online Course Lectures from Covenant Seminary. Covenant Seminary offers the lectures of several courses online and free, including many courses that I completed.
  • Interview with Nancy Pearcy. Nancy Pearcey is a professor and scholar in residence at Houston Baptist University, and she has recently released a new book, Finding Truth: 5 Principles for Unmasking Atheism, Secularism, and Other God SubstitutesShe joined Trevin Wax on the blog for a conversation about evangelism, apologetics, and worldview training. Also, see Tim Challies’ recent review of Finding Truth here.
  • Amy Carmichael vs. Aimee Semple McPherson. Aimee Byrd looks at the excellent new book on Amy Carmichael from Iain Murray. See our review here
  • 10 Recommended World War III Books for Christian Readers. Our friend (even though he is a Cubs fan) Kevin Halloran offers a helpful list of books related to World War II. I’ve read numbers 1, 3 and 4 on his list, with Unbroken and Eric Metaxas’ Bonhoeffer being two of my all-time favorite books.
  • On My Shelf: Life and Books with Darrin Patrick. Darrin Patrick is the lead pastor at The Journey in St. Louis. Find out what his favorite books are and what he is reading now.
  • The Matheny Manifesto. Here’s a short video that gives an overview of St. Louis Cardinal’s manager Mike Matheny’s philosophy on youth sports. You can read more about that in his new book The Matheny Manifesto: A Young Manager’s Old-School Views on Success in Sports and Life. Read the Manifesto here.


  • For the Church: Singing Come, O Lamb of God. Randall Van Meggelen, Chief Musician at Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Florida writes “Come, O Lamb of God,” from Dr. R.C. Sproul’s Glory to the Holy One sacred music project, is a hymn of triumph in Christ.” Check out the lyrics and listen to the recording.
  • Awesome Music, Awesome Words. David Murray reviews Glory to the Holy One, the excellent new sacred hymns project from R. C. Sproul and Jeff Lippencott. You can find our review of the album at our album reviews page
  • In commenting on Jonah’s prayer, Paul Tripp writes “The story of Jonah reveals that we all need a greater Jonah, a man who would not run from his call, but willingly submit his life to God’s plan.”
  • Four New Videos from The New Basement Tapes. Produced by T Bone Burnette, lyrics by Bob Dylan and the band includes Marcus Mumford and Elvis Costello.
Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael

Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael


World Magazine Cartoon

Courtesy of World Magazine


  • Think of Yourself Less. Jason Meyer writes “Pride is our greatest enemy because it makes God our enemy — an almighty opponent.”
  • You are Dust, Not Divine. Tim Challies writes “Each of us comes to church feeling the weight and the difficulty of this life. God has something he wants us to do in these situations. There is something he calls us to—something beautifully surprising and uncomfortable.”
  • Is Theology Your Idolatry? Marshall Segal of Desiring God asks “Has your theology turned into idolatry? Has your knowledge of God ironically and tragically drawn you away from him, not nearer to him?” He then offers nine questions that “might help you diagnose theology idolatry in your own heart and mind.
  • Albert Mohler on Keeping the Southern Baptist Faith. See this interview from World Magazine with the President of Southern Seminary.
  • Ten Effects of Romans 9 on My Life. Watch this short video, or read the text from John Piper.
  • The Complicated Life of Lazy Boys. Paul Maxwell writes “There are (at least) five vicious cycles that perpetuate male inactivity. Each highlights a different logic behind our tendency toward laziness and complacency.”
  • Not that Bright. Kevin DeYoung writes “You don’t have to bear the burdens of the planet, just bear witness to the one who can. You don’t have die for the sins of the world, just introduce people to the one who has. You are not the light.”
  • We Complain Because We Forget. Steven Lee writes “The antidote to spiritual amnesia is making every effort to recall and remember God’s gracious deliverance. The fact that you — a sinner who was an enemy of God — are now a beloved child is a miracle. Don’t let that wonder ever fade. Remember.”


  • Prayer for Hours, Days, or Weeks When Temptation is Raging. In this wonderful prayer from Scotty Smith, he thanks the Lord for His …”promise, that with every temptation we face in life—every one of them, you will always provide a way out and grace to endure.”
  • John Calvin’s 4 Rules of Prayer. Joel Beeke writes “For John Calvin, prayer cannot be accomplished without discipline. He writes, “Unless we fix certain hours in the day for prayer, it easily slips from our memory.” He goes on to prescribe several rules to guide believers in offering effectual, fervent prayer.”
  • 4 Reasons to Write Prayer Requests. Mike Leake shares four benefits to writing down prayer requests.
  • Fighting Fatigue in Your Daily Devotions. David Burnette offers “a few practical steps to jump-start your devotions, that is, to get your heart and your mind ready to hear from God’s Word.”


  • Rejoice in the Midst of Suffering? Jason Helopoulos writes “The Lord calls us to approach suffering in a unique and wholly uncommon way. As Christians, we are exhorted to rejoice in the midst of our suffering! Paul says in Romans 5:3, “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings…” He says in Colossians 1:24, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake…”
  • 5 Reasons to Rejoice in Suffering. Tim Challies writes “In your suffering you really can rejoice. As you are being persecuted, you can be glad. Why? Because God is testing you to prove and strengthen your faith, because you share the sufferings of Christ, because God is near to you, because God is being glorified, and because justice is not far off.”

Favorite Quotes

Favorite Quotes of the Week ~ 3.29.2015

  • Paul reminds us that in the Gospel we are both brought lower and raised higher than we can imagine. Tim Keller
  • You cannot be in Christ and be indifferent to the sin in your life. Kevin DeYoung
  • I believe that the time to start thinking about your legacy is not at the end but at the beginning, because as I said, that’s when you’re able to do something about it. Mike Matheny
  • Christian, beware of thinking lightly of sin. Take heed in case you fall little by little. Charles Spurgeon
  • The more you believe in others, the more they’ll do to prove you right. Dr. Alan Zimmerman
  • As our covenantal head, Christ fulfilled all righteousness in our place and bore God’s wrath in our place on the cross. Michael Horton
  • Jesus warns people far more often about greed than about sex, yet almost no one thinks they are guilty of it. Tim Keller
  • Character is forged not on the mountaintop but in the valley. Mike Matheny
  • The glory of the gospel is that when the Church is absolutely different from the world, she invariably attracts it. Martyn Lloyd Jones
  • When Scripture speaks for itself, it claims to be no less than God’s own word, and the claim is pervasive and unavoidable. John Frame
  • Good leaders are willing to change their mind when proven wrong. Todd Henry
  • If God does not have our highest allegiance, we will use prayer to try to get things that have that designation. Tim Keller
  • Unreached peoples are unreached for a reason. They’re hard, difficult, and dangerous to reach. All the easy ones are taken. David Platt
  • You can pay people to perform. You can’t pay them to excel. Dr. Alan Zimmerman
  • The purpose of prayer and of God’s call in your life isn’t to make you number one in the world’s eyes but to make Him number one in your life. Ravi Zacharias
  • It is superstitious to equate our feelings and inclinations with the leading of the Holy Spirit. R.C. Sproul
  • Grace is free, but it’s not cheap. Kevin DeYoung
  • I sometimes think that the very essence of the whole Christian position and the secret of a successful spiritual life is just to realize two things… I must have complete, absolute confidence in God and no confidence in myself.” Martyn Lloyd-Jones
  • No condemnation for our sin, no separation from God’s love, no end to Christ’s grace… Father, thank you for so great a salvation. Scotty Smith
  • We don’t believe in the power of prayer, we believe in the power of God, which is precisely why we pray. Burk Parsons
  • The bad news that we are all guilty is met with the best news that God loves and forgives guilty people. Tullian Tchividjian
  • Setting your heart on anything above Christ turns it into dung–whether sex, job, wife, child, or church. (Philippians 3:8). John Piper
  • You must either give up your sins or give up all hope of heaven. Charles Spurgeon
  • Grace is God’s refusal to allow us to define ourselves or to have the last word. God gets the last word, and he shows mercy. Michael Horton
  • There’s one reason why you should walk away from whatever temptation you’re facing right now: God is better. Francis Chan
  • Nothing worth doing right is easy.  Mike Matheny
  • The true test of our worldview is what we find entertaining. Albert Mohler
  • Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you are capable. John Wooden
  • Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t come to yours. Yogi Berra
  • Reputation is the shadow. Character is the tree. Abraham Lincoln
  • Judas’ blindness was not because he was a helpless pawn in the hands of Satan, but that he joined Satan in hating the light. John Piper
  • Here’s good news: God is even more committed to your change, your growth, and your transformation than you are. Kevin DeYoung
  • A proud person is so busy looking down on others they cannot humble themselves to look up at God. Lecrae
  •  Faith is the means by which the righteousness of Christ is given to us. R.C. Sproul
  • Racial reconciliation must begin with us seeing each other made in the image of GodThabiti Anyabwile
  • You will trust God to the degree you know you are loved by Him. Brennan Manning
  • The highest form of Christian leadership occurs when you come to understand that it’s not all about you, but about the people you lead and the Lord who leads you! Dave Kraft
  • The Bible says that our real problem is that every one of us is building our identity on something besides Jesus. Tim Keller
  • Nothing makes me want to obey more than knowing that God unconditionally loves me and forgives me even when I disobey. Tullian Tchividjian
  • Time isn’t just a fleeting thing. It never moves forward without engraving its mark upon the heart. Ravi Zacharias
  • You can’t preach the gospel without words. That’s a lie. Preach the gospel and always use words. John MacArthur
  • If we would know whether our faith is genuine, we do well to ask ourselves how we are living. J.C. Ryle
  • How do I know that I am in Christ? Because of my trusting, costly obedience to the Word. Alistair Begg
  • Fear-based repentance makes us hate ourselves. Joy-based repentance makes us hate the sin. Tim Keller
  • We need to be more concerned about who we are before God than our reputation before people. Francis Chan
  • We live not toward victory, but from the victory that Christ has already accomplished for us. Sin cannot reign over us because Christ is King! Michael Horton
  • If your repentance has not changed your life, you need to repent of your repentance. Steven Lawson
  • Dear doubting believer: Believe God loves you more than you believe your emotions. Your proof is Christ lifted up not yourself feeling down. Burk Parsons
  • Life is special when you reach out beyond yourself to be a true servant leader for others. Ken Blanchard
  • Leadership DON’T: expecting something different from your team vs what’s expected of you. Different standards for the team creates us vs me. Brad Lomenick
  • To acknowledge that I am yet a sinner is not to deny that I am a saint but to acknowledge how I became one, by grace. R.C. Sproul Jr.
  • When men talk of a little hell it’s because they think they have only a little sin and believe in a little Savior. Charles Spurgeon
  • Gay marriage within mainline denominations is gaining traction. Skewed pastors and even the government can’t trump the Bible on this issue. Pastors: stand! Steve Camp
  • The highest form of leadership is one in which a leader raises up other leaders – not as an accident, but as a result of conscious effort. Mark Miller

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This and That ~ Favorite Quotes of the Week

This and That


  • A Prayer for Acknowledging Our Performance-ism and Perfectionism. Here’s a prayer from Scotty Smith, who I was blessed to enjoy two wonderful classes with at Covenant Seminary. This particular prayer hits pretty close to home for me.
  • What Not to Ask Someone Suffering. Nancy Guthrie cautions us not to ask “How are You Doing” to someone who is grieving the loss of someone. She offers other things you can say however.
  • Your Joy Rests in Jesus’ Righteousness. David Mathis of Desiring God writes “What if you really believed that God is 100% for you? That he not only accepts you, but accepts you fully, because of the perfect person and work of his Son? That your best successes can’t earn you any more access, and your worst failures can’t take any of it away? If you did — really did — it might change everything for the pursuit of joy in your life.”
  • When Orphan Care Goes Bad: Russell Moore on why Adoption is not for Everyone. Russell Moore writes “Adoption is a beautiful, life-giving act, when taken up by those called to and equipped for it. But it does a child no good to be brought into a family that has counted their blessings but hasn’t counted the cost.”
  • A Good Mentor Slows You Down. Mike Leake writes “This is what a good mentor will do. He/she will lovingly slow down us young whippersnappers. If you are the young gun wanting to change the world keep that passion—but temper it with wise mentors.”
  • Why Doesn’t God Just Remove Our Sin Cravings Immediately? J.D. Greear writes “So when you are tempted to despair because you continue to struggle, remember what God is doing through your circumstances.”
  • Overcoming Pornography: Choosing Obedience. Randy Alcorn writes “Numerous studies have shown that a majority of men who profess to be Christians view pornographic images in any given week. Countless believers are in bondage to this sinful behavior and many feel hopeless about being able to overcome it. We’re in a battle—big time—and we need a strategy to have victory in this area of sexual temptation. This is a spiritual battle (Eph. 6:12), but as children of God, we are equipped to win it (1 Cor. 10:13).” In this first of three articles on the subject Alcorn looks at the first step of choosing obedience.
  • Isn’t the Christian View of Sexuality Dangerous and Harmful? Sam Allberry writes “The gospel shows us that there is forgiveness for all who have sinned sexually, and it liberates us from the mindset that sex is intrinsic to human fulfillment. That no one need to cast all his happiness on his sexual fortunes is not bad news, but good news. It’s not the path to harm, but to wholeness.”
  • The Bible and Homosexuality: Wrong and Right Lessons. Rick Phillips writes “Here, then, is the right lesson to learn from the various churches urging tolerance towards homosexual sin: instead of learning to surrender biblical truth to a sinful culture, we should be bold in standing firm on the clear teaching of God’s Word, humbling ourselves before God by refusing to compromise with worldly unbelief and seeking his power to use our faithful to witness for the repentance and salvation of many through faith in Jesus Christ.”
  • Three Lectures from Russell Moore on Engaging the Culture without Losing the Gospel. Russell Moore, President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, recently delivered the Spring 2015 Gheens Lecture Series on the campus of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
  • A Gospel-Focused Reenergizing of Politics. Russell Moore writes “American evangelicals are, sometimes frantically, trying to adjust to an increasingly post-Christian America. We can no longer pretend that we are a “moral majority,” sharing “values” with the American mainstream. In a quest to differentiate themselves from the activism of previous generations, some younger evangelicals wish to retreat into a libertarian cultural isolationism, and some wish to adjust to the ambient culture. Those who wish to retreat are wrong. Pulling back from politics or cultural engagement is the wrong approach. What we need is actually a reenergizing of politics.”
  • Do You Pay Your Taxes Joyfully? Tim Challies writes “I believe that there are at least two reasons that we are to pay taxes to the authorities. There is practical value in paying taxes and there is also a kind of important symbolic value.”


  • The Seven Last Sayings of Christ. Over the next two weeks John MacArthur will be looking at each of Jesus’ last sayings from the cross. Here he starts with His plea for forgiveness.
  • How to Read the Bible for Yourself. John Piper offers three helpful suggestions.
  • Worship According to the Word. Albert Mohler writes “We will either recover the biblical vision of true Christian worship, or we will slide into some form of pagan worship. There is no third option.”
  • Why Sing Sad Songs When I Don’t Feel Sad? Matthew Westerholm lists four reasons why it is appropriate, and even necessary, for Christians to lament, whether in a corporate worship setting or in private prayer.
  • God The Savior Of All? Does God save everyone? See this article from David Murray.
  • Jonah’s Final Lesson. John MacArthur writes “Like Jonah, we might be tempted to allow our own fears, prejudices, or selfish interests to inhibit our gospel witness. But when we prioritize the gospel message over our own personal agendas, we bring glory to God as we advance His kingdom purposes throughout the world.”
  • Relentless. Paul Trip writes “God is angry, and his anger is relentless.”
  • The Lesser Known Lloyd-Jones. Jeff Robinson writes that “Two areas seem to receive much less attention when it comes to Lloyd-Jones, though they were major themes in his preaching ministry: evangelism and revival.”


  • Aaron Schock’s Resignation from Congress. J.C. Derrick of World Magazine reports “Schock, once seen as a rising star in the Republican Party, came to Washington in 2009 at age 27—meeting the age requirement by just two years. He was then the youngest person in Congress and the first born in the 1980s. He talked a lot about his faith and ethics in a 2009 WORLD profile, but questionable decisions are precisely what led to his demise.” Here’s another article on the resignation from the Washington Post.
  • Is There a Diversity Dividend? David Murray writes “The majority of the post-Ferguson conversation and writing has focused on quotas, legislation, rehashing the past, and guilting people and churches into change. Surely we can build a much more positive case for biblical diversity by demonstrating the future spiritual profit we can enjoy in our lives, families, and churches.”
  • Jeb Bush, 20 Years After Conversion, Is Guided by His Catholic Faith. Michael Paulson of the New York Times, writes ““Twenty years after Mr. Bush converted to Catholicism, the religion of his wife, following a difficult and unsuccessful political campaign that had put a strain on his marriage, his faith has become a central element of the way he shapes his life and frames his views on public policy.”
  • The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has approved a new definition of marriage that includes gay marriage. No surprise here. The denomination is now the largest Protestant group to recognize same-sex marriage as Christian and allow same-sex weddings churchwide. In light of this news, the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), the denomination in which I serve as an elder, affirmed Biblical marriage.

    World Magazine Cartoon

    Courtesy of World Magazine



  • What is the Measure of a Great Book? Tim Challies writes “So I paused and began to think of the books that have caused me to stop and to pray, to put down the book and to go straight to the Lord. And here are just a few of them.”
  • Why Did Christianity Grow? Kevin DeYoung shares thirteen key points from Rodney Stark’s book The Rise of Christianity.
  • New Luther Biography. Eric Metaxas is my favorite writer of biographies. His current best-seller is Miracles and his next book is 7 Women (September 8). I was excited to hear that he is working on a new biography of the great reformer Martin Luther.


Rock, Paper, Scissors Pie. Did you see Jennifer Garner and Jimmy Fallon play this game recently on The Tonight Show? 

Doug Michael cartoon

Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael

Favorite QuotesFavorite Quotes of the Week ~ 3.22.2015

  • You beat suffering by Who you trust in your suffering. Tim Trouten
  • Why should we think that we wouldn’t have a cross to carry? Are we somehow more deserving than our Lord? Kevin DeYoung
  • If Christ could make a complaint, it would be, “My bride never talks to me. R.C. Sproul
  • Good leaders must communicate vision clearly, creatively, and continually. However, the vision doesn’t come alive until the leader models it. John Maxwell
  • When we try and use fear or pride to stop from sinning, we are forgetting that we sin because of either fear or pride. Tim Keller
  • The only thing that we have earned at the hands of perfect justice is perfect punishment. R.C. Sproul
  • No one can hate you in this life more than Jesus was hated. Kevin DeYoung
  • If He has said much about prayer, it is because He knows we have much need of it. Charles Spurgeon
  • Jesus, help want to forgive the people who may never acknowledge they have harmed us. Scotty Smith
  • A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way. John Maxwell
  • The leader who takes absolute credit for success will not successfully lead a team for long. Eric Geiger
  • It’s easy to be an educated fool. R.C. Sproul
  • An argument may remove doubt, but only the Holy Spirit can convict of truth. Ravi Zacharias
  • Be more concerned with your character than your reputation because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are. John Wooden
  • The fear of conflict is almost always a sign of problems. Patrick Lencioni
  • Nowhere in Scripture do we find doctrine studied for its own sake or in isolation from life. Wayne Grudem
  • There are some needs only you can see, some hands only you can hold and some people only you can reach. Tim Keller
  • The hub of Christianity is not “do something for Jesus.” The hub of Christianity is “Jesus has done everything for you. Tullian Tchividjian
  • It’s not convincing to say you are a child of God if you have none of the characteristics of your Father. Kevin DeYoung
  • In heaven we shall see that we had not one trial too many. Charles Spurgeon
  • People don’t want to commit until they have clarity, but clarity comes with movement. Michael Hyatt
  • People drift from generation to generation, and the morally unthinkable becomes thinkable as the years move on. Francis Schaeffer
  • You don’t walk out of the concentration camp of sin. You kill the guards, and cut the wire, and run till you’re out of range. John Piper
  • Deceit is the foundation of sin. Jonathan Edwards
  • Being a child of God means confidence, but it never means complacency. Kevin DeYoung
  • Evil may mar the divine image and cloud its brilliance, but it cannot destroy it. R.C. Sproul
  • The greater the preoccupation with the beauty of Jesus, the more clearly we will know how to deal with our brokenness. Scotty Smith
  • Denying self isn’t a one-time thing, but a daily task. Trip Lee
  • Wise leaders get uneasy when a church begins to feel too comfortable. Eric Geiger
  • All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity & importance & should be undertaken with painstaking excellence. Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Grace runs best through people who know they’re broken. Tullian Tchividjian
  • It is right to enjoy your work. “The Christian honors God when, like God himself, he takes pleasure in what he does. Paul Helm
  • The purpose of prayer and of God’s call in your life isn’t to make you number one in the world’s eyes but to make Him number one in your life. Ravi Zacharias
  • God’s concern is for His name, His glory, His people, His unfolding eternal purpose and for His Kingdom. Alistair Begg
  • Marriage does not so much bring you into confrontation with your spouse as confront you with yourself. Tim Keller
  • Where your delight is, the rest of your world is going to follow. Matt Chandler
  • There’s one reason why you should walk away from whatever temptation you’re facing right now: God is better. Francis Chan
  • We live not toward victory, but from the victory that Christ has already accomplished for us. Sin cannot reign over us because Christ is King! Michael Horton
  • We become like what we focus upon. Fix your eyes upon Christ and be conformed into His image. Steven Lawson
  • If your reformed theology enables you to rationalize your apathy towards prayer, evangelism, and mercy ministry, it’s not reformed theology. Burk Parsons
  • Great leaders inspire, they don’t manipulate. Andy Mineo
  • To be great at whatever it is that you do, it’s going to take some discipline to separate yourself from the average. Andy Andrews
  • It’s really hard to be a servant leader because we come into this world as a baby in a self-survival mode. Life is a journey toward service. Ken Blanchard
  • Who God is and what Christ did have huge implications for who we are personally and what we desire sexually. David Platt
  • Every threatening of God, as well as every promise shall be fulfilled. Charles Spurgeon
  • We are saved by grace, through faith in Christ alone! And since there is no room for human merit there can be no grounds for human boasting! Steve Camp
  • Leaders don’t ever “arrive.” If we ever think we’re done, we are done! Mark Miller
  • Because He freely owned my guilt I may freely own my sin. Guilty as charged, and yet, not guilty at all. R.C. Sproul Jr.

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Guest Blogger Teri Williams – Abortion Front Lines


 Teri is the Director of The Spoon River Pregnancy Resource Center located in Canton, IL.


Abortion Front Lines

When you think of Orlando, Florida, the thoughts that come to mind may be about warm weather, beaches and Mickey Mouse. Close to the last thing one would want to consider in the middle of the happiest place on earth would be an abortion clinic that does not only first trimester abortion procedures, but actually abortions up to 24 weeks of pregnancy. As someone who works in a pregnancy center, even I would rather not think about abortions happening that late into a pregnancy. The loss of life, the risks to the procedure, and the impact on life moving forward is unspeakable horror. This particular clinic has come up to me three times in conversation in the past two days.

First, I spent time with a friend who lives in Orlando and had visited this clinic. She was horrified by the surgical procedures being performed there and praying about involvement with a man who is there 6 days a week doing sidewalk evangelism. His name is John Barros. He is a part of RC Sproul’s church near Orlando. I then mentioned this clinic to my brother-in-law and sister as they attend a yearly conference in Orlando associated with the same church. They informed me they had heard this same man, John Barros , speak at the 2015 National Ligonier Conference and could send me the link. {Lee Webb interviews Dr. R.C. Sproul Jr. and John Barros about the importance of sidewalk counseling at abortion clinics.) After listening to the presentation twice, I feel a strong need to share a few thoughts.
John Barros has been given a tough, tough ministry assignment. Yes, he does see almost daily, women and couples who change their minds and choose life for their unborn child. But far and away more often, he is watching the destruction of countless lives every single day. The despair that has washed over me even thinking about the reality of this, is overwhelming. Pray for John Barros.
But secondly, listening to RC Sproul, Jr. share his experiences with this ministry I found much of what he said disturbing. Early on he makes the statement that — EVERYONE knows this is a baby. This situation is not due to a lack of education on fetal development. Everyone is fully aware they are murdering a baby. There are many of us in the prolife movement who do know enough about fetal development and Psalm 139 to believe this is a valuable life at the moment of conception. A life that God is knitting together in the womb with both a God-given purpose and a plan. But does EVERYONE believe that? Not hardly. It has become painfully obvious to me in the past few years, that much of the church today is not prolife — they are pro choice. The definition of when life begins is extremely controversial. Women who actually admit they are carrying a baby and use the word BABY are often NOT able to terminate the pregnancy.
Secondly, he calls abortion a great evil. I do not disagree with that statement at all. However, it is not greater than any other sin. Why do CHRISTIANS not talk about the fact they have had an abortion in their past? Because they fear being told just that — their abortion is one of the biggest sins anyone could commit. I do not see this supported in scripture. I think MAN likes to believe there is a top 10 worst sins. Then I am not as bad as you because I never did….fill in the blank. Delusional thinking.
Mr. Sproul also talks about a person covering their shame or eliminating their shame by having an abortion. The bottom line reason for an abortion is NOT shame it is self–centeredness.
Lastly, towards the end of the presentation. RC Sproul, Jr. discusses a young man that he spoke to during a visit to that abortion clinic. How that young man saw the abortion as a solution to his dilemma. And if he could just get his girlfriend through the procedure life would go on. Mr. Sproul went on to say that the young man would be filled with horror afterward at the reality of what just happened, but the horror would fade until he eventually forgot the experience entirely. It would not even cross his mind until the day he died. And then it would come back. The young man would remember what he had done.
I have no idea where Mr. Sproul got that impression, but I can tell you in 17 years of working in prolife ministries, I have NEVER met one person male or female who was able to forget their abortion experience. It often becomes something that is quite haunting. Statements are often made like, “I wish I could forget….or it was the worst day of my life….or if I had known what it would be like, I would never have done it.” It is a defining moment in anyone’s life. The reality is I have never met a person in 17 years who didn’t say “that experience changed my life forever. I walked out of that clinic a different person.” There are books written about post abortion trauma. There are prisons filled with inmates, both male and female who have an abortion in their past. Many of them will attest it was a part of their downward spiral.
While I very much admire John Barros for his commitment and perseverance in sidewalk evangelism at the Orlando abortion clinic, I honestly feel RC Sproul, Jr. was a huge deterrent to a productive, factual, compassionate conversation on this topic.
To read more of Teri’s articles, click here.  To learn more about SRPRC or to make a donation, go to

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Counter Culture by David Platt

Reading Together Week 3

Chapter 3: Modern Holocaust: The Gospel and Abortion

Counter Culture: A Compassionate Call to Counter Culture in a World of Poverty, Same-Sex Marriage, Racism, Sex Slavery, Immigration, Abortion, Persecution, Orphans and Pornography by David Platt.

David Platt, author of Radical, has written an important new book. So important, I believe, that rather than doing one book review, I’m going to review the content chapter by chapter. Note, all of Platt’s royalties from this book will go toward promoting the glory of Christ in all nations.

Each chapter concludes by offering some initial suggestions for practical requests you can pray in light of these issues, potential ways you might engage culture with the gospel, and biblical truths we must proclaim regarding every one of these issues. These suggestions will also direct you to a website, where you can explore more specific steps you might take.

This week we look at Chapter 3: Modern Holocaust: The Gospel and Abortion.
• For of all the pressing social issues addressed in this book, abortion poses the most clear and present danger to the most people on a daily basis.
• Across the world, over forty-two million abortions occur every year.
• The worldwide practice of abortion is why I do not believe it is anywhere close to an overstatement to call abortion a modern holocaust.
• Conservative estimates reveal that approximately one-third of American women have had (or will have) an abortion at some point in their lives.
• God the Creator alone has the right to determine when someone lives and dies, and abortion flies directly in the face of his authority.
• Many people say, “Abortion is such a complex issue, and there just aren’t any easy answers.” But if what is in the womb is a person, then even if someone is proabortion or pro-choice for any number of reasons, all of their reasoning falls apart.
• Scripture is clear: that womb contains a person being formed in the image of God.
• An estimated 92 percent of all women who receive a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome choose to terminate their pregnancies.
• Would we murder a child outside the womb because he or she was conceived by rape? Of course we wouldn’t. Then why would we murder a child inside the womb?
• Abortion is an affront to God’s authority as Creator, an assault on God’s work in creation, and an attack on God’s relationship with the unborn. Once we realize the severity of abortion before God, the implications of the gospel for abortion become clear.
• This includes our current president, a man whom I respect deeply and pray for regularly but who is proactively and aggressively working to keep the murder of innocent children legal.
• If you are a Christian, I plead for you to step out of a muddled middle road that says, “I may not choose abortion, but I don’t think we should take away others’ right to choose it,” and to realize how inconceivable it is for us to stay silent while millions of children—individuals made in the image of God—are dismembered and destroyed around us in the world. Such thinking is not enlightened tolerance; it is sinful indifference. Moral and political neutrality here is not an option for us.
• If we believe the gospel, then we must speak out against the injustice of abortion.
• To anyone and everyone who has ever aborted a child, supported abortion, encouraged abortion, performed abortion, permitted abortion, or done nothing about abortion, may the following realities lodge deep within your soul. He forgives entirely, he heals deeply, and he restores completely.

Next week we’ll look at Chapter 4: The Lonely in Families: The Gospel and Orphans and Widows. Won’t you read along with us?

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For Music Lovers

Passion - Even So Come

Even So Come – Passion (Deluxe Edition)
Each spring I look forward to the release of the latest Passion Conference album. This year’s album Even So Come, featuring twelve songs, was recorded live at three separate Passion gatherings in front of more than 30,000 college students (Passion’s focus is students ages 18-25), at Phillips Arena in Atlanta and the Toyota Center in Houston. The album features the usual Passion gang – Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, Crowder, Kristian Stanfill, Brett Younker and new entry Melodie Malone. Tomlin and Stanfill each get four songs and Crowder three. The music tends to be a combination of worship ballads and high energy worship songs which are easy to get stuck in your brain after just a few listens. There are a number of excellent songs and performances on this year’s album.
I purchased the Deluxe Edition of the album which includes four songs recorded at a late night acoustic session. It features three well known worship songs: Tomlin’s “We Fall Down”, Redman’s “The Heart of Worship” and Crowder’s “How He Loves”, along with Stanfill’s cover of the hymn “It is Well”. The Deluxe edition also includes videos of the Redman and Crowder songs. Unlike past Passion albums, this year’s does not feature one of Louie Giglio’s sermons, which was fine with me.

Here are a few thoughts on the twelve songs on the standard edition:
“Even So Come” – Chris Tomlin. One of my favorite songs on the album. This reminded me of Tomlin’s excellent “At the Cross (Love Ran Red)” from last year’s Passion album Take it All. The song went a bit long, but an upcoming studio version may tighten it up a bit.

Like a bride,
Waiting for her groom,
We’ll be a church,
Ready for You,
Every heart longing for our King,
We sing…
Even so come,
Lord Jesus come

“Shout Hosanna” – Kristian Stanfill. This song has a big sing-along chorus and pounding drums.

The same power that rolled the stone away
The same power alive in us today
King Jesus we call upon your name
No other name

“Forever” – Melodie Malone. Passion newcomer covers the Kari Jobe song. Malone’s powerful vocals on this songs makes it one of the highlights of the album.

“Lift Your Head Weary Sinner” – Crowder. A live version of a song from his excellent Neon Steeple album.

“Draw Near” – Kristian Stanfill. This is one of those worship songs in which lines are sung over and over (and over and over). At eight minutes in length it’s probably my least favorite song on the album.

“The Saving One” – Chris Tomlin. Another wonderful song from Tomlin that will be great to sing in worship services.

Your love is amazing
Grace never fails me
You are the saving one
You reach from the heavens
Hope of the nations
You are the saving one

“The Awesome God You Are” – Matt Redman. I can’t get enough of Matt Redman’s music. The only disappointment is that this is the only new song of his that is included on the album.

God, let hope arise and faith
Become the fortress of my heart
I will lift my eyes and see You as
The awesome God You are

“My Anchor” – Christy Nockels. The only song on the album from Nockels. This song will be included on Let it Be Jesus, her upcoming live album recorded at the Passion City Church in Atlanta.

“Wonder” – Crowder. I love Crowder’s music and enjoyed this new song, the chorus of which is a reworking of my favorite hymn. This is another of my favorite songs on the album.

Oh Lord my God
When in awesome wonder
Sing my soul
Your song again
Oh Lord my God
When I’m lost in wonder
Sing my soul
How Great Thou Art

“The Way” – Brett Younker. He follows up “Burning in My Soul” from the Passion: Let the Future Begin album with this high energy song.

“You Found Me” – Kristian Stanfill. This song was written by Matt Maher, Jason Ingram, Brett Younker and Stanfill. It’s another high energy sing-along song.

“The Cross of Christ” – Chris Tomlin. The album closes with the most upbeat of Tomlin’s three new songs. It’s a wonderful song that is probably already being sung at contemporary worship services.

It is the cross my only plea
The blood He shed delivers me
Our Savior’s arms are open wide
A love so great
The cross of Christ

Rise - Trip LeeRise: Get Up and Live in God’s Great Story by Trip Lee. Thomas Nelson. 240 pages. 2015
*** ½

Trip Lee is barely 27 years old. And yet he has released five popular rap/hip-hop albums and now two books. He was a Pastoral Assistant at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington D.C., where Mark Dever is the senior pastor, for four years, and recently moved to Atlanta to plant a church in Atlanta.

The foreword of the book was written by John Piper. Piper writes “One of the main things I like about Trip Lee and his book, Rise, is the interplay of reverence and relevance.“

Trip writes that this book is written for those who are young, to give hope to those who feel they have little to contribute. He states that it is written with the conviction that when a young person sees the glory of God everything changes. They Rise! He wants the book to be one that skeptics and seekers can enjoy and understand as well.

The book is split into three main sections: getting up, growing up, and pointing up:

  1. Getting Up: This section talks about what it means for each of us to embrace our role in God’s story and rise to the calling.
  2. Growing Up: This section talks about how to grow in the roles God has shown us.
  3. Pointing Up: This section talks about how our rising points people to the glory of the God who raises people from the dead.

The book is a quick read and contains subjects that young people will easily relate to. I highlighted a number of passages in the book and would like to share some of them with you below:

  • We were made to be mirrors perfectly reflecting God’s goodness, but with sin that mirror was fractured and the reflection is distorted.
  • The myth of procrastination is that it will somehow be easier later. The truth is, it’s never easy, and putting it off only makes it harder.
  • There are several problems with writing off young people. One of them is the strange assumption that for some reason God can’t get glory from young people.
  • What do we do about those people who think we’re worthless? Be an example for them.
  • It’s powerful to see a young man in his early twenties who would rather spend time with God’s people than go to a club. It’s powerful to see a young man fighting to remain sober. It’s powerful to see a young woman finding her identity in Christ and not in what others think. What an amazing picture of God’s grace.
  • Have you ever thought about how disastrous shortsightedness can be in our lives? Too many of us are trying to live our lives with no regard for what happens later. We have to think big picture. Every decision we make is a small piece of a larger puzzle. And without looking at the big picture for reference, we’ll place the pieces incorrectly every time.
  • When it comes to morality, all of us have bad taste. None of us is born with natural moral sense. None of us has that perfect combination of heart and deeds. Instead, we’re repelled by good things and attracted to the wrong things. Because of this, when we don’t get to take part in wickedness, we feel like we’re being left out. We feel like we’re missing out on the fun. But we have it exactly backward. Strangely, we complain about missing the chance to waste our lives. That’s like complaining about being spared in a deadly hostage situation.
  • Does God want you to have a boring life? To answer yes is to say something untrue about Him. He’s the Creator of life, and it’s tragic to suggest that He might not want you to enjoy it.
  • God doesn’t try to keep us from good things; He’s the giver of all good things. He’s the source.
  • When we focus on the wicked, it seems like they have everything. But when we look at our God, we see the truth. He’s all we need.
  • There are no super-Christians, only regular Christians denying themselves and embracing their Lord. When was the last time you said no to yourself? Denying self isn’t a one-time thing, but a daily task.
  • There are really only two ways to respond to Jesus: you can deny yourself and follow Him, or you can deny Him and follow yourself. Who do you think is the better leader?
  • Scripture treats time less like an entitlement and more like a treasure. The Bible talks about time as if it’s a loan from God that we should invest well. Everything we have belongs to God, including our time. We should invest it well, putting it where He tells us to instead of robbing Him and chasing what we think will satisfy us in the moment. We should be thinking carefully about how to spend every moment for the glory of God. You should invest your time in things that have an eternal impact. You should spend your time loving God and loving others.
  • One of the most important things I learned early on is that everyone is a theologian; some of us are good ones and others of us are bad ones. What I mean is that all of us have an understanding of who God is. Some have accurate pictures of Him, and others have inaccurate pictures.
  • Build your life on the Word of God. And I don’t mean just declare that you think God’s Word is true. I mean dedicate yourself to it. Meditate on it day and night. Do what God says. Building your life on the Word of God is an ongoing process, not a one-time thing.
  • Another key to going deep is finding a good church.
  • This obsession with others’ approval has the potential to poison every thought we have, every decision we make, and every assessment of ourselves. It turns opportunities to glorify God into opportunities to glorify self.
  • Social popularity is fickle and temporary. But acceptance by God through Christ is rock solid and eternal.
  • One of the quickest ways to ensure compromise is to obsess over what other people think of you. Sooner or later, the obsession with approval will make you do something that grieves God—all so you can please other people.
  • God has given us one another to help fight our sin, but we often hide from each other in shame. That’s an understandable response for those who are still exposed and vulnerable to judgment. But our sin has already been covered, so we have no need to hide it. Why hide a bill that’s already been paid?
  • As you read this, you may have some serious unconfessed sin in your life. Please remember this: Confession of sin is your friend, not your enemy. Confession of sin can only be perceived as your enemy if you have a goal other than God’s glory.
  • Every time I confess my sin to another Christian, he has some sin to confess to me as well. Confessing your sin encourages other Christians to do the same. And it reminds all of us of our need for Jesus.
  • My first lessons about sex came from R&B albums.
  • I know sex is a good thing, and treating sex as a disgusting thing to be avoided is unacceptable. It’s one of the greatest, most enjoyable gifts God has given us. My problem is the way the world celebrates sex.
  • Sex is meant to be a physical expression of a greater reality: the coming together of a husband and wife in marriage.
  • Sex is beautiful, but outside of marriage it loses everything that makes it that way. Marriage itself is a symbol of an even greater reality: Christ’s love for His church.
  • Sex outside of marriage is a perversion of God’s gift. We are sinners, and our sinful hearts distort everything, including the great gift of sexual desire. Thus, lust is the horrible disfiguring of our sexual desires, turning a good man into a monster.
  • It may be more common for guys, but it’s not rare for women. There are many women who struggle with porn, and the more we pretend it’s only a male problem, the less women feel comfortable talking about it. This is an everyone problem. It seems to have affected all of us. It’s rare to meet someone who hasn’t been touched by its devastating effects. And I’m not just speaking about the nonbelieving world. This is a dark struggle for many Christians. The difference has to be that we fight. And our God has given us the power to do so.
  • At the root of our porn problem is discontentment with God’s plan for our sexuality.
  • Some of us need to delete our social media apps because idle clicking always leads to the same place. We need to tell our friends all our dirt. We need to get accountability software. We need to get rid of our laptops and phones. Are you willing to do the drastic things you need to do?
  • There is no halfway or lackadaisical way to fight lust. If you’re not fighting your sin, you’re befriending your sin.
  • My goal is not to say that the younger you get married, the more holy you are. I just want to dispel the myth that we should delay adulthood and only consider marriage after we’re thirty or older. Whatever age you are, seek to view marriage the way God does.
  • This isn’t to say our peers always give terrible counsel, but we shouldn’t avoid counsel from older folks because we don’t like it. We should hear their counsel and measure it by the ultimate source of wisdom, God’s Word. That’s why I’m encouraging you to specifically spend time with godly older people.
  • Another natural way of gaining wisdom would be strengthening your relationship with your mom or dad, if they’re believers.
  • Here’s the grey rule: embrace things that lead you closer to Jesus, and reject things that lead you away from Jesus.
  • The question is not whether or not you will face trials. The question is, how will you respond when you do?
  • As I write this chapter, I still haven’t been healed. It continues to complicate every area of my life. In fact, the book is being turned in a week late because chronic fatigue left me bedridden for a few days the week it was due. I’m still praying the Lord will heal me, and that He’ll give me grace to glorify Him in my weakness. My energy is never the same from week to week, but my God is.
  • Ultimately, whatever it is you’re doing, it’s for God. Paul wrote to the Colossians: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” (Col. 2:23). No matter where you are or what you’re doing, your supervisor is Jesus. He’s the one who will reward you, and He’s the one you’ll ultimately answer to.
  • What we do with our lives every day, whether at school, a desk job, or keeping the home in order, is our most basic opportunity to glorify God. That’s what your role in His story looks like day in and day out. Instead of waiting to be offered a new role, play the current one well.
  • When you put your faith in our compassionate God, it leads to a compassionate life.
  • Showing compassion is one of the clearest ways we can visibly show people what the gospel looks like.
  • As a minister of the gospel, you have one primary task: proclaim Christ. We get bogged down, confused, and discouraged because we get away from the main thing. Tell people about Jesus.
  • At the core of this gospel message is the truth that God is holy, man is sinful, Christ was perfect and died for sinners, and He rose from the grave. And those who turn from sin and trust in Christ will be saved. That’s the message you’ve been called to preach.
  • If joining a church seems more like a nuisance than a privilege, that could be evidence you still have some growing to do. It’s much more than an annoying necessity in God’s eyes. And I want to encourage you to be excited about the things God is excited about. He loves the church, and we should love the church as well.

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INTEGRATING FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

integrating faith and work

  • Four Points on Faith and Work from Tim Keller’s Book Every Good Endeavor. Matt Perman is reading my favorite book no faith and work. He shares Here are four central points from his overall summary of the book.
  • John Maxwell on Influence. In this “Minute with Maxwell” John Maxwell discusses that influence means.
  • The Most Popular TED Talks of All Time. I would particularly recommend the talks by Susan Cain and Simon Sinek.
  • Balancing Life: How to Stretch Time and Add More to Your Plate. On this podcast, Andy Andrews answers a question about balancing the items in your life and how to know when you’ve taken on too much.
  • Live Homeless, Homesick, and Free. Jon Bloom of Desiring God writes “Our vocations are not our home. We often spend the first half of our lives preparing for our life’s work, and then spend the second half of our lives trying to figure out why our life’s work is not working out the way we hoped, or why it went so wrong, or what we weren’t more effective, or why it was so hard.”
  • Truth and Reconciliation. Enjoy this excerpt from Steven Garber’s fine book Vissions of Vocation. Garber was the speaker at my graduation from Covenant Seminary last May.
  • How to Run a Meeting that’s Not Terrible. Patrick Lencioni shares how to run a meeting that your participants won’t dread.
  • The Fastest Way to Get Clarity about Your Future. Michael Hyatt shares a simple, five-step process that helped him regain his clarity and move forward.
  • Vocational Discipleship: Helping Men Find Their Callings. Here’s an interview with Jeff Dunbar, Director at Sons of Encouragement, a ministry that helps men discover their gifts, calling and passions.
  • How to Find Joy and Meaning in Your Work. Charlie Self writes “Whether we labor in factories or fields, in executive suites or classrooms, as stay-at-home parents or volunteers for charities and missions — we are “full-time ministers” for Christ. Because God is the source of our joy, knowing our work pleases the Lord will fuel inner satisfaction.”
  • 2 Essential Behaviors of the Best Leaders. Dr. Alan Zimmerman writes “In truth, leadership has EVERYTHING to do with behavior. If you BEHAVE in certain ways, you can and will be a good leader.”
  • Six Things That Can Hide Bad Leadership. Phil Cooke writes “Over the years, I’ve encountered some terrible leaders – many times in situations where their employees and coworkers actually thought they were a genius. Maybe you’ve experienced that as well. I started thinking I was an idiot, and it bothered me for a long time, until I realized that there are some key situations and cultures to watch for in organizations that can actually hide bad leadership.  Here’s the six most damaging.”
  • For the sake of the world: A Lenten meditation. From Steven Garber, who delivered the address at my graduation at Covenant Seminary last May.
  • Leading with Joy. In discussing leadership, Larry Osborne writes “The fact is, ever since the Fall, every vocation has been riddled with hardship and difficulties. There’s not a garden without weeds.”
  • John Maxwell on Follow-Up. In this “Minute with Maxwell” John Maxwell looks at what it means to Follow-Up.
  • Is Your Life Like Your Closet? C Patton writes “We don’t allow our faith to enter our workplace for the same reason. Or it might be that we feel our faith will limit our ability to do business profitably. Surely God would not want that, right? Work is for Monday through Friday, family on Saturday, and we give God our Sundays. That is the way it has always been.”
  • Great Places to Work: MHBT, an Interview with Bill Henry Bill Peel writes “Founded in 1996, MHBT is one of the largest independent insurance firms in Texas and is among the top 50 Independent brokers in the U.S., serving clients from offices in Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, Lubbock, and Midland. MHBT is consistently recognized as one of the best companies to work for regionally and nationally and their culture has propelled them to the forefront of their industry. They are committed to develop leaders by empowering all of their employees to excel within a framework of mutual respect, commitment to integrity, and dedication to collaborative planning and problem solving.”
  • Walking with Giants. John Maxwell writes about his new book Wisdom from Women in the Bible, which will be available on March 3.
  • Destroying the Success Ethic. Matt Perman writes “We cannot evaluate whether God is blessing someone simply by their outward success and circumstances. We have to look at character and obedience.” He then offers some helpful related quotes from Leland Ryken’s book Redeeming the Time: A Christian Approach to Work and Leisure.
  • Why the Church Should Excel in Developing Leaders. Eric Geiger writes “No one should outpace the church in developing leaders because no one else has the assurance that their contribution will last, that their leadership will matter eternally. No other gathering of people, no other organization, will stand the test of time. Companies that have been declared successful are no longer in existence. Organizations falter as quickly as they rise.”
  • How Can Work in the Church and Marketplace be Equally Important? Matt Perman writes “It is an important truth that work in the marketplace is just as important as work in the church.”
  • John Maxwell on Change. In this “Minute with Maxwell”, John Maxwell looks at the word change
  • Followers First, Leaders Second. This short devotion from Lead Like Jesus helps us to remember that our identity is firmly rooted in Christ, not in our leadership positions.
  • Eight Signs of Fearful Leadership. Thom Rainer writes “All of us are subject to moments of fear in our various leadership roles. Can we overcome those moments? Better yet, are there signs or indicators to serve as cautions? I believe there are at least eight such tendencies in fearful leaders. And if we are manifesting any of these, we need an immediate behavioral change.”
  • Six Dangerous Explosive Devices Leaders Can Step On. Dave Kraft shares six of them that amount to dangerous thinking that leaders can step on causing great personal and organizational harm.
  • 7 Intangible, Seemingly Unproductive Actions Valuable in Leadership. Ron Edmondson writes “Every good leader I know specializes in intangible actions that don’t always produce visible, immediate results”, and then shares some examples from his own leadership.
  • 10 Keys for a Great Team. Brad Lomenick writes “There are lots of qualities that make up a great team, but thought I would point out ten that seem to be consistently evident across the board.”
  • The Fastest Way to Get Clarity About Your Future. Michael Hyatt shares a simple, five-step process that helped me regain my clarity and move forward.
  • The Future of Work Podcast. Bob Chapman writes “Human beings aren’t meant to be managed; they’re meant to be led – by leaders. Jacob Morgan, a contributor to Forbes, and author of The Future of Work: Attract New Talent, Build Better Leaders, and Create a Competitive Organization and The Collaborative Organization recently discussed with me the difference between leadership and management for his Future of Work podcast.”


 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 8.

Chapter 8 ~ Leaders Are Teachers: The Effective Leader Is the Master Teacher Within a Learning Organization

  • Teachers change the way we see the world, and they often change the way we understand ourselves.
  • The leader who wants to effect long-term, lasting, determinative change in an organization has to be its lead teacher, changing minds in order to transform the organization.
  • The leader who makes the greatest impact will be a master teacher who trains leaders at every level in the organization to teach with faithfulness, enthusiasm, and confidence.
  • We want to change the world by changing the way people think and then deploying them through organizational structures that set them loose in the world to accomplish great things. Leaders are the catalysts for making that happen.
  • We do not take up the responsibility of leadership without exposing ourselves to the higher standard of God’s judgment. In the secular world, leaders worry about the judgment of stockholders and stakeholders. Politicians worry about the verdict of history. As Christian leaders we know that we will face nothing less than a divine judgment on our leadership.
  • First, the teacher loves those he will teach.
  • Second, Augustine taught that the teacher must love what he teaches.
  • The third but most important thing that Augustine reminded Christian leaders was that we teach because we first love Christ, who first loved us.
  • The old theologian specified that the goal of teaching is to see every student instructed, delighted, and moved.
  • Those we lead must be instructed so that they know what they need to know in order to be effective. They cannot be faithful followers and make their contribution to the organization if they lack the necessary knowledge.
  • Leadership happens when followers develop nothing less than delight in knowing the convictions that shape the organization, seeing themselves as a part of the organization’s story, and finding themselves in its narrative. They develop their own passions within the organization and its mission, and their delight and excitement becomes contagious to others.
  • The most effective leaders are unstoppable teachers. They teach by word, example, and sheer force of passion. They transform their corporations, institutions, and congregations into learning organizations. And the people they lead are active learners who add value and passion to the work.
  • To lead with conviction is to seize the role of the teacher with energy, determination, and even excitement.
  • Leaders want to see every member of the organization learn what must be done, and why. Leaders are not satisfied until every individual understands the mission, embraces it, and brings others into it.

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Movie Review ~ Do You Believe?

Do You Believe movieDo You Believe? Rated PG-13

Let’s face it, most faith-based films are just not very good. There are a number of reasons for this – low budgets, poor writing, acting, production, etc. Last year’s God’s Not Dead was an exception. That film cost $2 million to make and it grossed $60 million. The writers from God’s Not DeadChuck Konzelman, Cary Solomon – return for this film, which was the primary reason I decided to check out this film after being disappointed with so many other faith-based films.

This low budget film (about $2.3 million), which is set in Chicago, was shot primarily in Manistee and Muskegon, Michigan. The film is affiliated with Manistee’s 10 West Studios, which helped coordinate scenes set in a hospital and fire station. The film has a solid cast, featuring Cybill Shepherd (Moonlighting), Mira Sorvino, (who won an Oscar in 1996 for her role in Woody Allen’s Mighty Aphrodite) Lee Majors (The Six Million Dollar Man) and Sean Astin (Lord of the Rings trilogy, Rudy, Goonies). It also features the likeable Brian Bosworth, character actor Delroy Lindo (Get Shorty) and rapper Shwayze. Nick Nolte was to appear in the film but had to back out when he fell ill.

The movie is produced by Harold Cronk. He describes Do You Believe? as an ensemble film comparable to Crash, the 2004 film which won the Oscar for Best Picture, in that it features multiple, intertwined storylines. Unfortunately that’s where the positive comparisons end. Cronk goes on to state that Do You Believe? is a faith-based film about the power and the meaning of the cross, and what that can do for you. Jonathan M. Gunn directs the film. He directed Sorvino in 2009’s Like Dandelion Dust.

The film opens with Pastor Matthew (Ted McGinley) having an encounter with street preacher Malachi (Lindo) carrying a large wooden cross. Malachi asks Matthew if he believes in the cross of Christ. Matthew tells him that he is a pastor, but Malachi tells him that he didn’t answer the question. That leads Matthew to preach on the cross at his church and as part of that to give everyone a small cross. Those crosses would show up throughout the film as we follow the stories of more than twelve characters – each of which have different levels of belief in Christ, and some of whom heard Pastor Matthew’s sermons on the cross – whose lives will all come together under a large cross that stands near a bridge that spans a river.

As we follow these stories we can’t help getting pulled in as the film uses everything it can to tug at our heartstrings. But unfortunately while the production and acting were fine, the writing was not. Tammy called it “formulaic” and I would agree; the plotlines were predictable. At 119 minutes, the film was also overly long and quite slow at times. The film, as did God’s Not Dead, features music from the Newsboys, this time “We Believe” over the closing credits. This film will appeal to its core market, but takes a step back from last year’s God’s Not Dead.

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This and That, Favorite Quotes and Books

This and That


  • What is Your Greatest Fear? Marshall Segal of Desiring God writes “But the Bible brings the good news that if we truly knew the depths of our desperation in sin and the heights of God’s delivering love for us through the cross, we’d never have to be afraid of anything. That is a solid, secure place to stand when your circumstances feel anything but safe.”
  • Can We Really Be Free From our Excessive Fears? Jon Bloom of Desiring God writes “Living free from our excessive fear is not only possible for you; it’s available to you. All it requires is faith. And it doesn’t require heroic faith. It requires only a child’s faith. All you need to do, according to Jesus, is, “do not fear, only believe” (Mark 5:36).
  • Mindful of Our Busyness: Notes on Another Epidemic (and Its Relief). David Zahl writes “We are hearing more and more about the busyness epidemic, and I’m glad of that. If only the root issue could be fixed by analyzing or understanding it deeply enough! Alas, the most effective means of relief right now seems to have little if anything to do with information or even self-knowledge. Instead it has to do with finding the space/time to stop and just be.”
  • Lazy Busy. Tony Reinke of Desiring God writes “The most common species of slothfulness is “lazy busy” — a full schedule endured in a spiritual haze, begrudging interruptions, resenting needy people, driven by a craving for the next comfort. It is epidemic in our day.”
  • Looking Forward to a Heaven We Can Imagine. Gavin Ortlund of The Gospel Coalition interviews Randy Alcorn about Heaven.
  • What is a Kind Husband? Using Boaz as an example, Douglas Wilson provides five characteristics of a kind husband.
  • Too Busy to Lead Family Worship? Don Whitney writes “You may know of no one as busy or as burdened as yourself, but can you honestly say you have more responsibilities than Charles Spurgeon? Despite his innumerable and important responsibilities, Spurgeon made the privileges and delights of family worship a priority. How about you?
  • Spiritual Joy vs. Worldly Joy. David Murray uses the writings of the Puritan Thomas Watson to outline eight important differences between Christian joy and the joy of the world.
  • In Bondage to Pornography. Carl Trueman writes “The ethics, and increasingly the laws, surrounding sexual behavior are coming to rest exclusively on the idea of consent”
  • Parenting Well in a Digital World. Tim Challies offers some tips on parenting well. He looks at 3 things you need to put off or reject, and 3 things you need to put on or embrace. Watch Tim’s message “Purity in a Digital Age” from the recent Ligonier National Conference.
  • Don’t Follow Your Heart. Jon Bloom of Desiring God writes “Our hearts were never designed to be followed, but to be led. Our hearts were never designed to be gods in whom we believe; they were designed to believe in God.”
  • What Makes a Man a Hero? R.C. Sproul Jr. writes “In our day you become a hero by becoming the best in your field. The high virtues of the Christian hero, by contrast, have precious little to do with accomplishment.
  • “And such were some of you.” Jonathan writes “This gospel testimony, true of all believers, is clearly seen in the life of Christopher Yuan. Christopher lived as a promiscuous gay man until he met Jesus in prison, where he was serving time for dealing drugs. Listen to the story of God’s great mercy in his life and be encouraged by God’s amazing grace.”
  • Should I Attend the Wedding of a Gay Friend or Family Member? Denny Burke writes “…attendance at a wedding is not like attending a concert, where attendance suggests nothing about your own views on the proceedings. A wedding is a public recognition of a union, and those in attendance are there to help celebrate and add their assent to the union.”



  • New York City Adds Two Muslim Holy Days to Public School Calendar. New York will become the nation’s first major metropolis to close its public schools in observance of the two most sacred Muslim holy days.
  • An Evangelical Church ‘Comes Out’ for LGBT Rights. Heidi Halls writes “Pastor Stan Mitchell’s announcement that his evangelical GracePointe Church would fully affirm gay members met with a standing ovation from some, stunned silence from others, but everybody prayed together quietly at the end of it.”
  • Congratulating Wesleyan. Carl Trueman, after hearing that Wesleyan University had “taken the ever-expanding list of initials used to refer to sexual identities to new heights of absurdity or sensitivity, depending on one’s perspective. We are now apparently up to fifteen letters: LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM”, writes “Wesleyan University is not to be criticized but congratulated, at least in terms of the transparency and consistency of its vision. It is simply an honest and consistent example of the moralizing amorality of this present age.”
  • Franklin Graham: Obama, Holder guilty of ‘anti-Christian bias’. Franklin Graham states ““There is an anti-Christian bias that is now in our government, has permeated our government, that’s also permeated Washington but [also] at the state and local level.”
  • The Kids are not All Right. Daniel James Devine of World Magazine writes “Many children raised by gay parents are now young or middle-aged adults. Some say their upbringing was positive, but a growing number are beginning to speak out against what they feel is a dysfunctional parenting model.”
  • Florist Rejects Washington Attorney General’s Offer and Risks Everything. Denny Burk writes about Barronelle Stutzman, a 70-year old grandmother. She is a florist being sued by the state Attorney General for the state of Washington for refusing to participate in a gay wedding. The attorney general is trying to compel her to ignore her Christian faith and to participate in gay weddings. If she refuses, he is threatening the full coercive power of the state to force her to do it. She stands to lose everything—her home, her savings, her business, her livelihood—if she does not comply.
  • Making a New Argument for Marriage. In the new issue of ByFaith magazine is an interesting article, “Making A New Argument for Marriage” by Susan Fikse.  Fikse writes “In his late-June dissent to the Supreme Court decision on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), Justice Samuel Alito described the debate in this case as a battle between two views of marriage. As Alito describes, the real issue at stake is not expanding the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples, but redefining the very core of the institution.”
  • Wedding Costs. The average cost of a wedding excluding a honeymoon was $31,213 in 2014. Wow.


  • FOX News Radio’s Tonya J. Powers Interviews Third Day. In this interview, Mac, David and Mark sit down with FOX News Radio’s Tonya J. Powers to talk about their new worship album “Lead Us Back: Songs of Worship,” which is the first Worship album they’ve released in 12 years.
  • Passion - Even So ComePassion 2015 Live Album. Featuring some of this generation’s most acclaimed worship leaders – Chris Tomlin, Crowder, Matt Redman, Christy Nockels, Kristian Stanfill and Brett Younker – the new live Passion album Passion: Even So Come is set to release on March 17. The album was recorded in front of over 30,000 college students at three separate Passion gatherings in Atlanta and Houston. The standard edition will feature twelve songs, while the deluxe edition will feature eighteen songs, including two videos.
  • Anomaly Tour 2015. Are you going to see Lecrae and Andy Mineo in St. Louis. Check out this short tour promo video.
  • NEEDTOBREATHE “Brother” Video, Featuring Gavin DeGraw. The video was directed by Jared Hogan.
  • Will Smith and Jimmy Fallon Beatbox. Did you see them recently on The Tonight Show?


  • Five Books Christians Should Read on Islam. Aaron Armstrong offers these five books we need to read to give us a better idea of what Muslims actually believe, the questions they are really asking, and the objections they hold about Christianity.
  • Finding Truth. Tim Challies writes “Nancy Pearcey’s bestselling and award-winning book Total Truth made quite a mark on my life. It was, to my memory, the first book I had ever read on worldview, and its explanation of the way our world divides the sacred and the secular has not only stuck with me, but has helped me better understand and explain the culture around me.”
  • Pass Down the Truth. Check out this promotional video for the newly revised and updated Reformation Study Bible.
  • Review of the NIV Proclamation Bible. Our friend Kevin Halloran writes “The NIV Proclamation Bible from Zondervan was made to give readers the most relevant information they need to teach and/or preach through each book of the Bible.”
  • Why Jerram Barrs Read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Six Times in Six Months. I had the pleasure of taking a class from Dr. Barrs at Covenant Seminary. Watch this video to hear why explains below why he deeply loves the book.
  • Shepherds’ Conference 2015. The video from all of the messages from the recent Shepherds’ Conference Inerrancy Summit, hosted by John MacArthur, are now available.
  • Liberate 2015 Conference Messages. You can watch all of the conference messages, featuring Tullian Tchividjian, Scotty Smith, Paul Tripp, Steve Brown and more.
  • Andy Crouch: The Return of Shame. Check out this article from the author of Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling. See our review of the book here.
  • 7 Women by Eric Metaxas7 Women by Eric Metaxas. One of my favorite authors follows up his 7 Men book with 7 Women: And Their Secret of Their Greatness, to be published September 8.
  • Living Well in a Digital World. Tim Challies writes “Zondervan has just released a second edition of my book The Next Story and it comes complete with a few updates, an added chapter, and a new subtitle: Faith, Friends, Family, and the Digital World. It covers some of this material, plus a whole lot more.”
  • Heaven, How I Got Here. Our friend Kevin Halloran reviews the new book by Colin Smith Heaven, How I Got Here: The Story of the Thief on the Cross.
  • Beauty for Ashes. Tim Challies looks at Iain Murray’s new biography of Amy Carmichael. I’m reading the book now and will run a review soon.
  • New Book from Ashley Cleveland. Ashley, one of the best and most honest singer/songwriters you are going to find, is working on her second book. She writes that this one on loss—and the unexpected life that fills the open spaces. You can find our review of her first book Little Black Sheep, here (just page down until you find it).
  • New Book Addresses the Growing Problem within Youth Sports. Andy Andrews discusses The Matheny Manifesto with Mike Matheny’s co-author Jerry Jenkins.



Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael

Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael

Favorite QuotesFavorite Quotes of the Week 3.15.2015

Here’s a sample:

  • No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. C.S. Lewis
  • If the depths of everyone’s sin was made public, we would all be much more gracious to each other. Tullian Tchividjian

Currently Reading


Check out what I’m Currently Reading


book reviews

The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely ConvertThe Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield. Crown & Covenant Publications. 128 pages. 2012. Audiobook read by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield

I first started hearing the name Rosaria Butterfield a few months ago, and then got to hear her tell her story last month at the 2015 Ligonier National Conference. You can watch her conference message “Repentance & Renewal” here.

This is not your typical Christian testimony/autobiography. For one, it is very well written. Rosaria is a very intelligent and opinionated individual, earning a PhD at Ohio State and then serving as a tenured English professor at Syracuse University, where she taught courses in Women’s Studies, specializing in Queer Theory and was a popular conference speaker. She gives insights – often painful – about how gays and lesbians perceive evangelical Christians.   Read the entire book review on the blog….

Reading Together Week 2

Counter Culture by David PlattCounter Culture: A Compassionate Call to Counter Culture in a World of Poverty, Same-Sex Marriage, Racism, Sex Slavery, Immigration, Abortion, Persecution, Orphans and Pornography by David Platt.

David Platt, author of Radical, has written an important new book. So important, I believe, that rather than doing one book review, I’m going to review the content chapter by chapter. Note, all of Platt’s royalties from this book will go toward promoting the glory of Christ in all nations.

Each chapter concludes by offering some initial suggestions for practical requests you can pray in light of these issues, potential ways you might engage culture with the gospel, and biblical truths we must proclaim regarding every one of these issues. These suggestions will also direct you to a website, where you can explore more specific steps you might take.

This week we look at Chapter 2: Where Rich and Poor Collide: The Gospel and Poverty


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INTEGRATING FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday


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 7 – Leaders Are Thinkers:

  • You can be certain that the quality of your actions will never exceed the quality of your thinking.
  • Careful attention to thinking is what first sets the leader apart.
  • Like everyone else, leaders operate out of capacities such as instinct, intuition, and habit. But what sets the leader apart is the commitment to bring these very things under the control of active intellect and right patterns of thinking.
  • We lead out of authenticity and the open acknowledgment that we are doing what all leaders must do—face the facts, lean into the truth, apply the right principles, acknowledge the alternatives, and, finally, make the right decision. In other words, the leader leads by conviction.
  • The conscious denial of reality is a central danger of leadership, and the leader must defend against this temptation.
  • The leader must be unafraid of data and facts, and he must surround himself with people who know the information he needs and will give it to him.
  • The Christian leader is, by definition, committed to living in truth. This is one of the most distinctive and essential elements of Christian leadership, for it is foundational to the Christian life.
  • The Christian leader leans into truth, knowing that the truth always matters and that nothing less than the truth will do.
  • The leader is committed to the development of a comprehensive worldview based in truth and to the consistent application of truth to decision making. This is the essence of convictional leadership and the faithful operation of convictional intelligence.
  • If the right decision were always clear to everyone, we would not need leaders. Leaders must know the way the organization should be directed and the course that must be taken, but they also need the skill to motivate others to follow that lead.
  • The most effective leaders make the right decisions over and over again and develop credibility even as they gain experience.
  • Some people seem to have little or no confidence in their decision-making ability. Are they missing a decision-making gene? No, they lack the courage of their convictions, the discipline of critical thinking, or the confidence of steady leadership.
  • The leader who faces the facts, leans into truth, applies the right principles, and acknowledges the alternatives will then be ready to make the decision—the right decision.

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Movie Review ~ The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, rated PG

In the sequel to the 2011 The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Sonny (Dev Patel) is back as the owner of the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly and Beautiful, which Muriel (Maggie Smith) is now helping Sonny to manage. There are two primary storylines for the film:
• Sonny wants to expand his “empire” by purchasing a vacant building and turning it into the Second Best Exotic Hotel. He and Muriel travel to San Diego to seek funding for the project. Throughout the film he embarrassingly and increasingly irritates and caters to one guest that he is sure is there to check them out and make his recommendation on funding.
• Sonny and Sunaina (Tina Desai) are preparing to get married, but Sonny almost completely ignores the preparations while putting all of his energy into getting funding for the expansion. He’s also extremely jealous of an attractive and talented male friend who is helping Sunaina prepare her wedding dance.
But the film is really about the many relationships between the characters staying at the hotel, most of whom return from the first film. Joining them are the attractive Guy (Richard Gere) and Lavinia (Tamsin Greig). And the relationships are complicated indeed. Many of the characters, none of whom are married (to each other), are having sex. That’s the biggest problem I have with the film – an open acceptance of sexual immorality. And if some of the characters aren’t having sex yet, they are in relationships, or wanting to be in relationships before they are divorced from their current spouses.
A theme that runs through the film, and it makes sense due to the age of the characters, is that time is running out.
Though the film has a strong cast – led by Judy Dench and Maggie Smith, and also including Bill Nighy and Richard Gere – I found it to be quite slow, up until the fun closing wedding scene. John Madden is back as director and Ol Parker as screenwriter. I had looked forward to the film and wanted to like it, and the film wants you to like it. However, as discerning viewers, we have to reject the immorality that is celebrated here.