Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

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Integrating Faith and Work ~ Connecting Sunday to Monday

work hard

  • Boring Work: Good for the Soul. Bradley Nassif writes “Our daily life is nothing less than a sacred journey into the being of God. Our most important spiritual work, then, is located wherever we find ourselves. That is the place where we till the soil of our jobs, and where the soil of our jobs tills us. It’s where God meets us, transfigures us, and leads us from glory to glory. Our workplace is our monastery.”
  • Building an Army. Bob Chapman writes about the Conscious Capitalism 2015 event he recently spoke at with Simon Sinek (Start with Why, Leaders Eat Last) and others in Chicago.
  • Your Job is Not Your Savior. Listen to this episode of “Ask Pastor John” featuring Bruce Hindmarsh.
  • Are You Doing the Right Things? Mark Miller writes “Below are some behaviors for you to consider. As you read the list, see if you can guess which are the nice things, and which ones are the right things.”
  • Dorothy Sayers: Clamor to be Engaged in Work Worth Doing. Matt Perman shares some quotes from Dorothy Sayers’ essay “Why Work”.
  • Is it What You Do or Who You Are? How Your Identity Changes Your Work. Dan Cumberland writes “It’s an internal switch. It’s a choice to put on a new identity that is deeply connected to who you are. It’s the choice to let yourself be something that you’ve felt yourself longing to become. It’s allowing yourself to be identified as having a particular work in the world.”
  • Workers and Laborers or Kings and Priests? John Bolt writes “To think of our work as the work of a royal priest ennobles it, giving work a glory that comes from seeing it sub specie aeternitatis (from the vantage point of eternity). Seeing our work from the perspective of eternity also leads us to confront the purely utilitarian understanding of work. It confronts the notion that work should be done just so we can be free—for weekends, for holidays, for vacations, for leisure—that our work is a necessary means to an end.”
  • Going on Vocation. Watch the trailer for this new video series from the Christian History Institute. Looks like it could be good for as faith and work small group study or an Adult Sunday School class.
  • Your Job is Not a Vocation. Malcom B. Yarnall III writes “To put it boldly, as Luther himself might: It is more important to find out who you are in Christ than it is to find out what you are to do in the world. But once you are in Christ, do what you are doing for his glory!”
  • The Secret to Living a Remarkable Life. In this podcast Jeff Goin and his co-host discuss whether or not there is a specific process to finding your calling and how we should look at trials, difficulties and obstacles along the way — not as things that prevent us from our purpose but actually help us get there. They also talk about how your calling isn’t something you plan. It’s really what happens when the plan goes horribly wrong.
  • How to Be Productive According to the Bible. Colin Smith writes “Your work and productivity matter to God and are profoundly important in his eyes. This goes for every job you may have. If you’re mopping floors for a living, you are mopping floors for the glory of God. Working productively allows you to honor God by maximizing the use of your time and to do more good works for his glory. This is what Christian productivity is all about.”
  • You Have Just Enough Time. Jon Bloom writes “Busyness is moral laziness, God has given us just enough time, every moment is a sacrament — these are massively important truths I need to soak in.”
  • Rest? Who Has Time for Rest?! Heather Day writes “Jesus clearly needed spiritual rest and solitude with His Father. How can we possibly think we need anything less?”


  • 8 Lies Christians Believe about Success. Emily T. Wierenga writes “I have spent my whole life trying to be successful. I thought it was what we were supposed to do. Worse than that, I thought success was the mark of a blessed Christian.”
  • How Do You Become a Successful Failure? John Maxwell writes “Anyone pursuing a goal of value will make mistakes and wrong decisions. So the key is to expect failure, to prepare for it, to be ready to turn it into a lesson and a stepping-stone to success. There is such a thing as a successful failure. These are some of the traits of such a person.”
  • Is it Better to Try and Fail or Not Try at All? Dan Miller writes “My theory is that you will be a brighter, better person for trying something big – even if you “fail.”



  • God has an interest in all our nonreligious life. All our business transactions are his concern. God is not so distant or even ‘religious’ that he only cares about what happens at church and during devotions. Every square inch of this earth is his and every minute of our lives is a loan from his breath. He is much more secular than we often think. John Piper
  • If you love what you are pursuing, things like rejection and setbacks will not hinder you in your pursuit. Coach K
  • If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
  • A leader makes certain that his followers know they are working with him not for him.” John Wooden
  • Never look down on anybody unless you’re helping them up. Coach K
  • How can you be a positive influence for someone in your life? Andy Andrews
  • Don’t wait for the perfect set of conditions before you do something. If you know it’s the right thing to do … just do it. Dr. Alan Zimmerman

 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 13: The Leader and Power:

  • The essence of leadership is motivating and influencing followers to get the right things done—putting conviction into corporate action. This requires the exercise of power.
  • Faithful leaders understand that while they will influence the organization with their personality, they must never allow personality to be the defining mark of leadership.
  • There are two dangers here. The first is the well-known “cult of personality,” in which the persona of the leader becomes the hallmark of the organization. The other danger is that the leader will rely on personality as a substitute for conviction or competence.
  • Personality is important, but it will fall flat when conviction wanes or competence is lacking. In addition to the power of personality, power also comes from the office the leader holds.
  • A leader unwilling to exercise the responsibility of office has no business accepting that stewardship.
  • Leaders must keep one truth constantly in focus—the office you hold exists because the organization depends on it.
  • Power of office works in two ways. First, it allows leaders to define reality to outside constituencies. The one who holds the office of leadership gets to speak for the organization. Second, the power of office allows the leader to force change within the organization.
  • Any leader unwilling to force change is destined for ineffectiveness. The faithful leader uses this power sparingly, but uses it nonetheless.
  • The truth is that people within an organization feel most secure when the leader leads.
  • The most sobering thought I often have in the course of a day is that I will make decisions that will impact people’s lives.
  • If the leader’s main task is to lead by conviction, then the convictions must be more central and prominent than the leader’s personality. If the personality looms larger than the convictions, alarms should go off, and they had better be heeded.
  • The Christian leader cannot succumb to the temptations of ostentation and the glorification of power.
  • The Christian leader will serve by leading and lead by serving, knowing that the power of office and leadership is there to be used, but to be used toward the right ends and in the right manner.
  • Power and responsibility must come accountability. A leader without accountability is an accident waiting to happen.
  • The stewardship of power is one of the greatest moral challenges any leader will ever face.

TThe Advantage by Patrick Lencionihe Advantage Book Club

The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business by Patrick Lencioni. Jossey-Bass. 240 pages. 2012

Patrick Lencioni is one of my favorite business authors. His books The Advantage and The Five Dysfunctions of a Team are among my favorites. I recently started reading and discussing The Advantage with two colleagues at work. I’m sharing key learnings from the book here.

Some good resources around organizational health can be found here:

This week we look at “The Case for Organizational Health”:

  • The single greatest advantage any company can achieve is organizational health. Yet it is ignored by most leaders even though it is simple, free, and available to anyone who wants it. That is the premise of this book—not to mention my career—and I am utterly convinced that it is true.
  • In spite of its undeniable power, so many leaders struggle to embrace organizational health (which I’ll be defining shortly) because they quietly believe they are too sophisticated, too busy, or too analytical to bother with it. In other words, they think it’s beneath them.
  • The health of an organization provides the context for strategy, finance, marketing, technology, and everything else that happens within it, which is why it is the single greatest factor determining an organization’s success. More than talent. More than knowledge. More than innovation.
  • But before leaders can tap into the power of organizational health, they must humble themselves enough to overcome the three biases that prevent them from embracing it. The Sophistication Bias: Organizational health is so simple and accessible that many leaders have a hard time seeing it as a real opportunity for meaningful advantage.
  • The Adrenaline Bias: Becoming a healthy organization takes a little time. Unfortunately, many of the leaders I’ve worked with suffer from a chronic case of adrenaline addiction, seemingly hooked on the daily rush of activity and firefighting within their organizations. It’s as though they’re afraid to slow down and deal with issues that are critical but don’t seem particularly urgent.
  • The Quantification Bias: The benefits of becoming a healthy organization, as powerful as they are, are difficult to accurately quantify.
  • There is yet another reason that might prevent them from tapping into the power of organizational health, and that is what provoked me to write this book: it has never been presented as a simple, integrated, and practical discipline.
  • I am convinced that once organizational health is properly understood and placed into the right context, it will surpass all other disciplines in business as the greatest opportunity for improvement and competitive advantage. Really.
  • At its core, organizational health is about integrity, but not in the ethical or moral way that integrity is defined so often today. An organization has integrity—is healthy—when it is whole, consistent, and complete, that is, when its management, operations, strategy, and culture fit together and make sense.
  • Any organization that really wants to maximize its success must come to embody two basic qualities: it must be smart, and it must be healthy.
  • Smart organizations are good at those classic fundamentals of business—subjects like strategy, marketing, finance, and technology—which I consider to be decision sciences.
  • A good way to recognize health is to look for the signs that indicate an organization has it. These include minimal politics and confusion, high degrees of morale and productivity, and very low turnover among good employees.
  • Most leaders prefer to look for answers where the light is better, where they are more comfortable. And the light is certainly better in the measurable, objective, and data-driven world of organizational intelligence (the smart side of the equation) than it is in the messier, more unpredictable world of organizational health.
  • The advantages to be found in the classic areas of business—finance, marketing, strategy—in spite of all the attention they receive, are incremental and fleeting.
  • The vast majority of organizations today have more than enough intelligence, expertise, and knowledge to be successful. What they lack is organizational health.
  • After two decades of working with CEOs and their teams of senior executives, I’ve become absolutely convinced that the seminal difference between successful companies and mediocre or unsuccessful ones has little, if anything, to do with what they know or how smart they are; it has everything to do with how healthy they are.
  • An organization that is healthy will inevitably get smarter over time. That’s because people in a healthy organization, beginning with the leaders, learn from one another, identify critical issues, and recover quickly from mistakes.
  • The healthier an organization is, the more of its intelligence it is able to tap into and use. Most organizations exploit only a fraction of the knowledge, experience, and intellectual capital that is available to them. But the healthy ones tap into almost all of it.
  • First, organizational health just isn’t very sexy, so journalists aren’t terribly excited to talk or write about it.
  • Another reason that organizational health has been overlooked by academia and the media has to do with the difficulty of measuring its impact.
  • Trying to identify exactly how much a company’s health affects its bottom line is next to impossible; there are just too many variables to isolate it from the myriad of other factors.
  • Finally, organizational health gets overlooked because the elements that make it up don’t seem to be anything new. And in many ways, they aren’t. The basic components—leadership, teamwork, culture, strategy, meetings—have been a subject of discussion within academia for a long time. The problem is that we’ve been looking at those elements in isolated, discreet, and theoretical ways instead of as an integrated, practical discipline.
  • The financial cost of having an unhealthy organization is undeniable: wasted resources and time, decreased productivity, increased employee turnover, and customer attrition. The money an organization loses as a result of these problems, and the money it has to spend to recover from them, is staggering. And that’s only the beginning of the problem.
  • Aside from the obvious impact this has within the organization, there is a larger social cost. People who work in unhealthy organizations eventually come to see work as drudgery. They view success as being unlikely or, even worse, out of their control. This leads to a diminished sense of hope and lower self-esteem, which leaks beyond the walls of the companies where they work, into their families where it often contributes to deep personal problems, the effects of which may be felt for years.
  • Turning an unhealthy company into a healthy one will not only create a massive competitive advantage and improved bottom line, it will also make a real difference in the lives of the people who work there. And for the leaders who spearhead those efforts, it will be one of the most meaningful and rewarding endeavors they will ever pursue.
  • DISCIPLINE 1: BUILD A COHESIVE LEADERSHIP TEAM. An organization simply cannot be healthy if the people who are chartered with running it are not behaviorally cohesive in five fundamental ways. In any kind of organization, from a corporation to a department within that corporation, from a small, entrepreneurial company to a church or a school, dysfunction and lack of cohesion at the top inevitably lead to a lack of health throughout.
  • DISCIPLINE 2: CREATE CLARITY. In addition to being behaviorally cohesive, the leadership team of a healthy organization must be intellectually aligned and committed to the same answers to six simple but critical questions.
  • DISCIPLINE 3: OVERCOMMUNICATE CLARITY. Once a leadership team has established behavioral cohesion and created clarity around the answers to those questions, it must then communicate those answers to employees clearly, repeatedly, enthusiastically, and repeatedly (that’s not a typo). When it comes to reinforcing clarity, there is no such thing as too much communication.
  • DISCIPLINE 4: REINFORCE CLARITY. Finally, in order for an organization to remain healthy over time, its leaders must establish a few critical, nonbureaucratic systems to reinforce clarity in every process that involves people. Every policy, every program, every activity should be designed to remind employees what is really most important.

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This & That and Favorite Quotes of the Week

This and That

  • LPGA Tour Player Makes Eagle to Win Tournament. After chipping-in on the 18th hole to force a playoff with Inbee Park, Sei-Young Kim pulled an 8-iron from 154 yards on the first extra hole and knocked it in for an eagle.
  • Tim Tebow Signs with the Philadelphia Eagles. Tebow joins former teammate Mark Sanchez and fellow believer former St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford on the Eagles.
  • LeBron James Sinks Half-Court Shot. Watch him toss in a 94-foot shot like an NFL quarterback.
  • Prayers for Adam Wainright. As I write this it appears that St. Louis Cardinal ace Adam Wainright will be out for the remainder of the season with an Achilles Heel injury. Our prayers go out to Adam, a believer, who also missed the entire 2011 season due to injury.

In The News:

Media Resources:

Christian Living:

To Encourage You:

Just for Fun

  • The hardest part of the day is all the stuff after I open my eyes in the morning. Jim Gaffigan
  • Suddenly I’m considered lazy if I hire someone to buckle my seatbelt for me. I’m busy, people! Jim Gaffigan

    Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael

    Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael

Favorite QuotesFavorite Quotes of the Week ~ 4.26.2015

On our Culture and World…

If we are not deliberately thinking about our culture and our context, we will be conformed to it without ever knowing. Tim Keller

  • We are redefining terms and rewriting laws and removing fences everywhere you turn, and we seem to think we can do that with impunity. Ravi Zacharias
  •  Worldliness is that system of values, in any given age, which has at its center our fallen human perspective, which displaces God and his truth from the world, and which makes sin look normal and righteousness seem strange. It thus gives great plausibility to what is morally wrong and, for that reason, makes what is wrong seem normal. David Wells
  • As the culture war rages on, Lord give us wisdom to see the difference between defending our rights and protesting our slights. Kevin DeYoung
  • We have to be careful not to elevate our preferences to moral standards and judge others by them. We only do so to feel superior. Tim Keller
  • The drug of choice in the modern age is levity. We want everything to be light and bubbly. We just want to feel good. Matt Chandler
  • In America today, it is considered worse to judge evil than to do evil. Os Guinness
  • Faith only glances at problems, but gazes upon Jesus. Steven Lawson

Our Sin and Our Gracious God and Savior…

  • We have a generation of people who think they can stand before the judgment seat of God despite their sins. R.C. Sproul
  • I rest solely in His righteousness and in His atonement because I know there is nothing I can do to make up for my own iniquity. R.C. Sproul
  • The gospel is not for you who can save yourselves, but for those who are lost. Charles Spurgeon
  • God’s grace meets us in messy places because messy places are all that there are. Tullian Tchividjian
  • Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. He is the Seeker; we are the ones who are running. R.C. Sproul
  • You are more sinful than you could ever dare imagine and you are more loved and accepted than you could ever dare hope-at the same time. Tim Keller
  • What does it mean to be human? It means we are created in the image of God for the glorious reality of being in permanent fellowship with Him. Ravi Zacharias
  • True joy comes only from God and He shares this joy with those who walk in fellowship with Him. Jerry Bridges
  • A holy God is both just and merciful. He is never unjust. R.C. Sproul
  • The only thing that righteousness and sin have in common is that they were both imputed to the undeserving at the cross. Burk Parsons
  • We have no right to come before God at all, apart from the finished work of Christ. R.C. Sproul
  • Christ did not die for any upon condition, if they do believe; but He died for all God’s elect, that they should believe. John Owen
  • “Yes but-ing” the sufficiency of God’s grace for salvation is like “Yes but-ing” the sufficiency of water for wetness. Scotty Smith
  • There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!” Abraham Kuyper
  • God knows everything. So why not run to him and tell him all the things that he already knows? Kevin DeYoung
  • If prayer actually changed God’s mind, I would stop praying. Burk Parsons
  • We are all servants. The only question is whom we will serve. R.C. Sproul
  • If we love God’s fame and are committed to magnifying His name above all things, we cannot be indifferent to world missions. John Piper
  • We’re not called to perfection but to faithfulness. Sinlessness in this life isn’t possible, but obedience unto godliness is. Sanctification. Steve Camp


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Music News, Reviews and More

Tomorrow We Live – KB

Tomorrow We Live – KB
Lecrae’s Reach Records continues its run of strong releases with KB’s (Kevin Burgess) second full-length album, and the follow-up to his 2014’s EP 100. The album was recorded in various location (Tampa, Atlanta, South Africa). It features strong production, powerful lyrics which ultimately offer a message of hope, and varied styles.

In interviews KB has said that he drew inspiration for the album from a trip to South Africa and that the album is a story that goes through the emotions of the day. Below are a few brief comments about each of the songs:

Rich Forever – features piano and acoustic guitar, this is a smooth jazzy/R&B song with an infectious beat. KB tells of growing up poor and that we will have riches in Heaven, which are better than riches in this world.

Sideways (featuring Lecrae) – this features a great beat as label owner Lecrae joins him on this excellent track, which looks at the way Christians are often seen by the world. My favorite track on the album.

They don’t know what to do with us
Degree in theology raps for a livin’
Black man in first class that is reading the scriptures
I put my tray table up
Smile why they lookin’ sideways?

And lately I’ve been hangin’ in the hood
Everybody lookin’ like what
You for the people, you pushin’ back evil
Not just in the steeple, you out in the woods
Where the lions and the wolves at?

I Believe (featuring Mattie of For Today) – features a chanting crowd screaming “I believe we will win.” KB addresses subjects from breast cancer and racism to the hope of Heaven. Features a joyful African chorus with drums.

9 AM – a short interlude with wife and baby and a reference to Lecrae’s “Dirty Water” from Anomaly.

Fall in Love with You – features a ukulele and some muted brass. The song is written to his son. It has a pop sound that demonstrates his versatility. It’s similar in theme to Trip Lee’s song about his children “Beautiful Life 2” from Rise.

Always & Forever – soul and funk with a 70’s/80’s sound. Upbeat and joyful, featuring female vocals. A love songs written to his wife. Could be a commercial success such as Lecrae’s “All I Need is You”.

I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but I know Who holds tomorrow.

Ima Just Do It (featuring Bubba Watson) – featuring two-time Masters golf tournament champion and one of my favorite golfers Bubba Watson. Has a great beat which will sound good live.

Bubba Wats on the mic now.
Can a golfer spit a rhyme?
Not a gangsta rapper, but my caddie got a knife.
KB need a verse,
Told him ain’t nothin’ to it.
Everybody ask me why, I just look ’em in the eye and say
I’m a just do it
Country boy from the panhandle
No golf lessons, just God’s blessin’s
Ain’t nothin’ He can’t handle,
Left-handed, funny swing,
Driver’s pink, ain’t nothin’ to me.
Got two Masters, a double major
But just one Master, our Savior.

Cruising – a short smooth track in which KB raps about Tampa, shrimp, garlic sauce, riding his bike and breaking bones in an accident.

Calling You – KB tells the heartbreaking story about an Iraq War veteran’s attempted suicide. Features some female vocals.

Save Me – short song that serves to bridge us from “Calling You” to “Drowning”.

Drowning – a laid-back beat with autobiographical content from KB.

Pull me up now before I drown
Save me before I drown.

Lights Go Out (featuring Bianca and Justin Ebach) – Could be another song about his wife. Features vocals from solo artist Bianca and composer/producer Justin Ebach. Has an excellent hook that sounds familiar.

When the lights go out it’s going to be me and you.

Crowns & Thorns (Oceans) – samples the popular worship song “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)” by Hillsong United. The song mixes hip-hop beats with violins and keyboard, and verses of despair and upbeat chorus:

My idols are mimickin’ Jesus
I bury my sin in 3 days, its back up again

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever you would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Find Your Way – a bonus track. KB tells women to look at their value in Christ, not in their looks or in the eyes of men. Features some effective drums.

This is a very strong release in which KB shows his flexibility, not only as a hip-hop artists but also incorporating funk and pop influences.

Song of the Week
This week’s song is my second favorite hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”, written by the great Reformer Martin Luther.

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.
Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.
And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.
That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.

Music speaks quote Music Quotes:
• Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord, but you’re gonna have to serve somebody. Bob Dylan
• My God’s good, but He’s not safe. Andy Mineo
• God wants worshippers before workers. Indeed the only acceptable workers are those who have learned the art of worship. A.W. Tozer

Record PlayerIn Praise of Hymns. Hymn writers Keith and Kristyn Getty were recently profiled on CBS Sunday Morning.
Before Tomorrow. Check out this seven minute film from KB.
“Jesus Loves Me” from Chris Tomlin. Watch the video of the acoustic version of this song from his Love Ran Red album.
Come Thou Fount of Every Blessings. Marshall Segal tells the story of the famous hymn and includes a new recording.
Preview Video for New James Taylor Album. Check out this two minute video in which James Taylor talks about a few songs from his first album of all new material in 13 years, Before This World, which will be released June 16. I’m really looking forward to this new album.

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Movie Reviews ~ The Age of Adaline and True Story

The Age of AdalineThe Age of Adaline, rated PG-13
** ½

Blake Lively (Gossip Girl television series), stars as Adaline Bowman. She was happily married and had a young daughter, but her husband was tragically killed during the building of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Then, in 1935 when San Francisco was having a rare snowfall, Adaline’s car slid off of the road and ended up at the bottom of a freezing river. Adaline’s body temperature dropped, and her heart stopped. When it looked like she would die, a lightning bolt brought her back to life. It also resulted in Adaline not being able to age. She would remain at a beautiful 29 years of age. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Well, not really.

You see as everyone else was aging, including her daughter Flemming (played later in life by Ellen Burstyn), Adaline remained just as she was when the accident occurred. Soon people began asking questions. This resulted in Adaline moving often and changing her name as she did. It was actually a very lonely and sad life that she lived. She didn’t allow herself to get close to anyone as she knew any relationship would have to be a short one. One of those relationships was with a young William Jones (Anthony Ingruber) who had planned to propose to her.

Adaline meets Ellis (Michael Huisman (Game of Thrones television series), who serves on the board of the library/museum where Adaline is working. Ellis is persistent in asking her out. After refusing him several times Adaline finally agrees. After dating for a while, Adaline goes with Ellis to his parent’s home (played by Harrison Ford and Kathy Baker), to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. This is where the film gets particularly interesting, and features a strong performance from the 72 year old Ford, who will next reprise his role as Hans Solo in Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens.

Summary – Morality? It includes a small amount of adult language and a few abuses of God’s name. None of the characters reflect any relationship with God and sex outside of marriage is portrayed. Good things – it showed the celebration of marriage and family and the man being the pursuer in a romantic relationship.  The film features Adaline’s beautiful wardrobe and scenes of the picturesque San Francisco as we follow her through the different time periods of her life. It was a lovely but not memorable film.

True StoryTrue Story, rated R
** ½

This film is directed by first time director Rupert Goold, who also co-wrote the script. It is based on Michael Finkel’s 2005 book True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa”.

We meet Michael Finkel () of the New York Times doing a major story on the slave trade in Africa in 2001. This is projected to be another New York Times Magazine cover story for Finkel, and will perhaps lead to him receiving the Pulitzer Prize. But it turns out that he plays with the facts, and rather than winning the Pulitzer, he is fired. He then returns to Montana where he lived with girlfriend (now wife) Jill (Felicity Jones).

We first meet Christian Longo (James Franco) in a Catholic Church in Mexico. Fast forward a bit and Finkel is contacted by a reporter from Oregon who tells him that Longo has been arrested for killing his wife and three young children and had taken on Finkel’s identity while in Mexico.

Finkel asks to meet with Longo. Longo makes a proposal to the disgraced writer – if he will keep the story to himself until after the trial and teach Longo how to write, he will give his story exclusively to Finkel. Sensing an opportunity to restore his reputation as a journalist, Finkel agrees and soon realizes that more than just an article, this story has book potential. He then negotiates a book deal with a $250,000 advance.

The movie explores the complicated relationship between Finkel and Longo. Themes of narcissism and lies permeate the story as they look to use each other for their own benefit.  What is the true story and who can we trust?

Hill and Franco give solid performances; especially take note of Franco’s eyes. Jones is mostly under-utilized, but offers up perhaps the film’s most powerful (and fictionalized) scene when she visits Longo in prison. (In reality Jill and Longo exchanged letters and spoke on the phone but never met in person).

The film is rated “R” due to the murder theme, some adult language and brief nudity (via a picture of a dead body).

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This & That and Favorite Quotes

This and That


  • R.C. Sproul, whose ministry has had a profound impact on my life, checked himself into the hospital on Saturday. The doctors suspect a mild stroke. He remains in the hospital for further testing and observation. Please join us in praying for a complete recovery for Dr. Sproul.
  • A Prayer for Reaffirming and Resting in God’s Sovereignty. Here’s a wonderful prayer from Scotty Smith.


  • Marco Rubio’s Faith of Many Colors. Sarah Pulliam Bailey writes “Marco Rubio, who threw his hat into the presidential race last Monday, has also drawn attention for his brief time in Mormonism, his baptism into the Roman Catholic Church and his ties to an evangelical church.”
  • GOP Presidential Candidate Marco Rubio Would Attend a Gay Wedding. Nick Gass writes “Marco Rubio says he would attend the wedding of a same-sex couple, even though the Republican Florida senator and newly minted presidential candidate has said he believes marriage should only be between a man and a woman.
  • Nurses Share Stories of Witnessing Babies Born Alive After Abortions. Sarah Terzo writes “Often when a baby is born alive during an abortion procedure, the child is kept in the abortion clinic until he or she dies. In rare cases, the abortionist himself takes action to kill the baby. But sometimes the baby is transferred to a hospital, where he can be given medical care. Unfortunately, it is the policy of many hospitals simply to allow these babies to die.”
  • Abortion Pill Reversal Allows Women to Change Their Minds–And Saves Lives. Timothy C. Morgan and Deann Alford writeHundreds of pro-life physicians are throwing their support behind the abortion pill reversal process that–to date–has saved the lives of unborn children whose mothers took the abortion pill and then changed their minds.”
  • Why Have Some Evangelicals Turned Against Reparative Therapy? Denny Burk, who opposes reparative therapy for reasons different from President Obama, writes “To deny that this change can happen in any Christian—including those struggling with same-sex attraction—is to deny something fundamental to our faith.”
  • Magician Dan White. Did you see this incredible magic trick he recently did with Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show?





  • The Dead End of Sexual Sin. Rosaria Buttefield shares four responses from John Owen on how we should think about sin that has become a daily part of our identity?
  • Rosaria Butterfield on Engaging Homosexual Friends with the Gospel. Watch this short interview with Rosaria Butterfield.
  • I Was Wrong about Same-Sex Marriage. John Zmirak writes “President Obama, and each of the Clintons, has made a public statement parallel to my own on this volatile topic, so I stand in illustrious company as I say it: I wish to reverse my previous public statements on same-sex marriage. The progress of law, the statements and actions of gay advocates, and the movement of public opinion have rendered my old views repugnant to me, and I now I offer a full and public retraction. Thanks to the hard work of Apple, Walmart, and the national media, I have changed my mind on same sex marriage. I now oppose it.”
  • Frank Bruni Commands Christians to Cave on Homosexuality. Owen Strachan writes “The New York Times just published one of the more rough-handed pieces we’ve yet seen regarding “gay Christianity.” In “Bigotry, the Bible and the Lessons of Indiana,” opinion writer Frank Bruni takes the gloves off and seeks to bully Christians into caving on homosexuality. The column is frank, direct, and brutalizing.”
Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael

Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael

Favorite Quotes

He that reads his Bible to find fault with it will soon discover that the Bible finds fault with him. Charles Spurgeon

It is not your hold of Christ that saves you, it is Christ’s hold of you. Charles Spurgeon

The worst sort of clever men are those who know better than the Bible. Charles Spurgeon

  • All that God had to do to harden Pharaoh’s heart, or to harden your heart, is to withhold His own grace. R.C. Sproul
  • The more sanctified a person is the more heavily weighted his prayer time is in adoration. R.C. Sproul
  • Joining a church should be more like getting married for life and less like getting a new car every few years. Burk Parsons
  • Tolerance isn’t about not having beliefs. It’s about how your beliefs lead you to treat people who disagree with you. Tim Keller
  • We are regularly in danger of having too light a view of our sin and also too light a grasp of what Jesus has done to free us from our sin. Tim Keller
  • All our words ought to be filled with true sweetness and grace; and this will be so if we mingle the useful with the sweet. John Calvin
  • You are not only responsible for what you say, but also for what you do not say. Martin Luther
  • Nothing sets a person so much out of the devils reach as humility. Jonathan Edwards
  • Our bad things will turn out for good. Our good things can never really be lost. And the best things are yet to come. Jonathan Edwards
  • As the culture war rages on, Lord give us wisdom to see the difference between defending our rights and protesting our slights. Kevin DeYoung
  • Christ will be known in the culture when we treat people better than they deserve, not as they deserve. John Piper
  • I wish I could say I do everything for God’s glory. I can’t. What I can say is that Jesus’ blood covers all my efforts to glorify myself. Tullian Tchividjian
  • One of the greatest failures of our generation is not living out the biblical precepts which we so clearly articulate. Ravi Zacharias
  • It’s all about God. May He forgive us for every time we start to think it’s actually all about us. Alistair Begg
  • We should be so joyful from God’s grace that others would respond by saying, “I wish I had your God.” Francis Chan
  • God is both our greatest problem and solution. His presence is the worst or best news, the most fearful threat or the most cheerful comfort. Michael Horton
  • Until we have the right knowledge of God, the knowledge of self and our need for grace remains distorted. Steven Lawson
  • We’re not called to perfection but to faithfulness. Sinlessness in this life isn’t possible, but obedience unto godliness is. Sanctification. Steve Camp

arbor day

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INTEGRATING FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Jobs are boringQuotes

Talent is God-given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful. John Wooden

Every struggle in your life has shaped you into the person you are today. Be thankful for the hard times; they can only make you stronger. Coach K

If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over? John Wooden

Employees will forgive and forget a leader’s errors in judgment, but they will never forget his lack of integrity. Dr. Alan Zimmerman

  • Because God accepts us on grace alone, apart from our work, we can devote ourselves to working radically for others first instead of ourselves. Matt Perman
  • A spirit of arrogance allows us to believe that we know everything and that we’re smarter than everybody and we’re more capable. Andy Andrews
  • It takes a community to create incredible things. Catch people doing something right! Ken Blanchard
  • When around great people you admire, ask great questions. Be curious. Gain credibility by listening, not giving answers. Brad Lomenick
  • If you celebrate FRIDAY too much it might be a sign you need to change what you are doing Monday-Thursday. Dave Ramsey
  • Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success. Coach K
  • You get ideas across better through listening and the pat-on-the-back method than you do with a kick on the pants. John Wooden
  • Action Item for the Week – Write down five things you will do in the next month to update your knowledge and skills. Now go out and do them. Dr. Alan Zimmerman


  • Working to Please the Lord. Richard Phillips writes “In all our work as Christian men, whatever season we may be in and wherever we happen to find ourselves on the ladder of our chosen pursuit, the best way for us to honor God in our work is to offer up everything we do directly to the Lord Himself. In all things, our goal should be to please Him.
  • Working out a Theology of Work. Justin Taylor writes “Do you ever feel guilty for going to work when you could be doing ministry instead? If you’re a student, you’re spending hours in the classroom, hours typing papers, hours taking tests. But you could be out evangelizing. If you’re in the workplace, you spend hours in front of your computer, hours in meetings, hours in your little cubicle. But you could be on the mission field leading people to Jesus.”
  • When Your Dream Job and Your Day Job Don’t Line Up. Austin Burkhart writes “Regardless of what’s in front of us right now, God is calling us to do it well.”
  • Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast. In this month’s podcast Andy Stanley talks about creating a staffing system that will liberate your organization.
  • Dealing With Change Before It Deals With You. In this “Tuesday Tip” Dr. Alan Zimmerman writes “The two most common responses to change are denial and resistance. Some people pretend it doesn’t exist, and some people fight it, but most people try both approaches. The trouble is–both denial and resistance are fairly useless responses.”
  • Want to Make Alignment Easier? Staff with Eagles. Mark Miller writes “The people you surround yourself with will determine the quality and direction of your organization as well as your level of effectiveness.”
  • A Simple Idea with Huge Potential. Mark Miller suggests assigning a champion to each large body of work.
  • Be a Belief Magnet. John Maxwell explains how he shares his belief in people and helps them find that belief in themselves.
  • Steward the Gifts God Has Assigned to You. Jon Bloom writes “So live your assignment. Steward your gifts to the utmost for the sake of others. Aspire to be the very best and most fruitful you that you can be for God’s glory.”
  • John Maxwell on Influential. In this “Minute with Maxwell”, John Maxwell looks at what it means to be influential.
  • Tim Keller’s 5 Ways the Gospel Transforms Your Work.  Nick at Scribble Preach shares five principles, from Tim Keller’s lecture at Redeemer Church to businessmen and women.
  • The Acceptable Leadership Sin. Dave Kraft looks at comparing ourselves to others.
  • Did You Know You Were Created to Work? Erisa Mutabazi writes Most people spend the majority of their waking hours working, yet have never fully grasped the idea that God created us to work. In fact, work was meant to be a joyful experience in which we are fulfilled in the use of our collective ability to partner with God in the cultivation of resources entrusted to us.”
  • The Gifted Traveler Experience. Watch these three short videos from Andy Andrews.
  • 7 Ways to Create Time to Think. Philip Nation shares seven ways that he is trying to implement more brain time into his life.
  • Cheat Sheet. This short devotional from Lead Like Jesus asks what’you’re your cheat sheet, that short list of what is most important to you, the one that you turn to when you need extra help.”
  • Why Being Super Generous at Work Will Make You Happier. J.B. Wood writes “So when you arrive at work tomorrow, rather than getting deep-fried in the corporate pressure cooker, think of your every task as an opportunity to make someone’s life better, whether it is your co-workers, your customers, your shareholders, or your boss.”
  • What Good is Religion in Business? Liam Glover writes “Jesus wants you to invite Him into your “boat”. What business or work circumstance do you need Jesus to step into – into your boat – to bring significant blessing, calm the storms of business or take your business to a new place?”
  • 5 Expressions of Cowardly Leadership. Eric Geiger writes “The antithesis of courageous leadership, of course, is cowardly leadership, where leaders lack the moral integrity and conviction to do what is right for the right reasons. Here are five common expressions of cowardly leadership.”
  • Calling & Your Heart’s Desires: Fixer Upper’s Joanna Gaines on How God Led Her to HGTV. Joanna Gaines and her husband Chip are the talent behind HGTV’s “Fixer Upper.” Together, they help families renovate their homes and create spaces they can love. In this video, Joanna shares how God led her to the work she does now.

 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 12.

Chapter 12: Leaders Are Readers -When You Find a Leader, You Find a Reader, and for Good Reason

  • When you find a leader, you have found a reader. The reason for this is simple—there is no substitute for effective reading when it comes to developing and maintaining the intelligence necessary to lead.
  • Leadership requires a constant flow of intelligence, ideas, and information. There is no way to gain the basics of leadership without reading.
  • The leader is constantly analyzing, considering, defining, and confirming the convictions that will rule his leadership.
  • The leader learns to invest deeply in reading as a discipline for critical thinking.
  • Your first concern is to read for understanding.
  • You should read a book or article only for what it is worth. If you find that the book is not contributing to your life and leadership, set it aside.
  • Learn to read critically.
  • As you read, ask the author questions and filter the book’s content through the fabric of your convictions. Argue with the book and its author when necessary, and agree and elaborate when appropriate.
  • The activity of marking your books adds tremendously to the value of your reading and to your retention of its contents and your thinking.
  • Reading critically also means evaluating the author’s credibility and clarity of thought.
  • The leader’s reading diet should include books covering a range of subjects, though most of us will invest first in those books that are most relevant to our work and mission.
  • If newspapers represent the first level of report and analysis, then magazines, journals, and newsletters represent the second.
  • There will never be enough time to read all that you want to read, or even all that you think you ought to read. Just keep reading. Set aside segments of time devoted to reading and grab every spare minute you can find.
  • When possible, read when you can retain and think most productively.
  • Christian leaders learn to read with discernment drawn from our deepest convictions.

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Music News and Reviews

Into the Woods - NEEDTOBREATHELive from the Woods – NEEDTOBREATHE

This high energy live album, featuring seventeen songs, was recorded on the band’s Rivers in the Wasteland tour at the Woods at Fontanel Amphitheatre in Nashville on September 13, 2014. NEEDTOBREATHE has become one of my favorite bands over the past few years, and is a band that I really hope to see in concert soon as this recording demonstrates that they are an excellent live band, bringing new energy to their excellent studio recordings.

The album features the South Carolina band playing extended versions of some of their best songs from four of their five full-length studio albums (no songs from their 2006 debut Daylight are included), with the strong lead vocals of Bear Rinehart. Thirteen of the seventeen songs are from the band’s last two albums, 2014’s chart-topping Rivers in the Wasteland and 2011’s The Reckoning. The only exceptions are “Something Beautiful”, “Girl from Tennessee”, “Washed in the Water” and “The Outsiders”. Nine of the eleven songs from Rivers in the Wasteland are included here. Seven songs were released in advance for those who pre-ordered the set, so I’ve been enjoying those songs for the past few weeks.

Highly recommended for NEEDTOBREATHE fans, and a good introduction for those not familiar with the band.Record Player

Song of the Week
This is a wonderful song that I listened to Easter morning written by Matt Redman. Here are the lyrics to “Once Again”:

Jesus Christ, I think upon Your sacrifice
You became nothing, poured out to death
Many times I’ve wondered at Your gift of life
And I’m in that place once again
I’m in that place once again

And once again I look upon the cross where You died
I’m humbled by Your mercy and I’m broken inside
Once again I thank You
Once again I lay down my life

Now You are exalted to the highest place
King of the heavens, where one day I’ll bow
But for now I marvel at Your saving grace
And I’m full of praise once again
I’m full of praise once again

Thank You for the cross
Thank You for the cross
Thank You for the cross, my friend

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Book News, Reviews and More

Book NewsNew Reformation Study Bible. Watch this short video to hear about the additional online resources you receive when you purchase the new Reformation Study Bible.

Tim Keller’s Foreword for Collin Hansen’s New Book. Justin Taylor shares Tim Keller’s foreword for Collin Hansen’s new book, Blind Spots: Becoming a Courageous, Compassionate, and Commissioned Church.

Don’t Be Scared Off from Reading the Puritans. Jason Helopoulos writes “Read the Puritans. They aren’t quite as hard to read as they have been portrayed and they aren’t quite as scary either. In fact, they are good for the mind, the heart, and the soul.”

7 Books That I Would Definitely Read. Here’s an interesting list of books that have not been written that Tim Challies would be interested in reading. Book Reviews

A New Season - Alan and Lisa RobertsonA New Season: A Robertson Family Love Story of Brokenness and Redemption by Alan and Lisa Robertson. Howard Books. 273 pages. 2014. Audiobook read by Alan and Lisa Robertson.

Alan is the oldest of the Duck Commander Robertson brothers. He is sometimes known as the “beardless brother”. His parents Phil and Kay were pregnant with Al before they were married.

The book opens with reflections and endorsements from family members. I had heard a part of Alan and Lisa’s story in the book The Women of Duck Commander. I listened to the audiobook version of the book which was read by Alan and Lisa. They rotate telling their stories. The book includes helpful lessons learned and reflections at the end of each chapter. The authors hope that others will learn from their mistakes and experiences.

Alan tells his story of growing up before Phil was saved. Phil drank a lot and at one point kicked Miss Kay, Alan, Jase and Willie out of the home. At age 8, Alan helped to raise Jase and Willie as the man of the house as Phil wasn’t fulfilling that role.

Lisa tells of a secret that she kept for many years, being sexually abused from age 7 until she was a teenager by a family member in grandmother’s home. She carried the secret and the corresponding shame with her.

Lisa was never close to her mother because of how she treated her sister Barbara who left home early. Lisa mentions that Barbara was also molested by someone. Lisa was closest to Barbara and her father. Barbara struggled with alcoholism before she died.

Lisa first caught sight of Al when she was in the 6th grade. Al was very popular and didn’t really notice her. Al started going downhill spiritually when he was in the 9th grade, even though he was only 13 years old. He became sexually active with an older girl. He was living a double life, drinking and smoking marijuana.

Later, after Lisa had matured physically Al noticed her. Before long they were having sex and Al introduced her to drinking and drugs. It took Jase to tell his parents the truth about Al.

Al left Lisa and went to New Orleans where he was almost killed by the husband of the woman he was dating. He would return to Louisiana, recommit his life to Christ and be baptized by Phil in the river. The love that Phil showed his prodigal son changed Al’s life and relationship with Phil forever.

When Al went to New Orleans Lisa went on a downward spiral of sex and drinking. She got pregnant and had an abortion, even though her boyfriend wanted her to keep the baby and marry him. But Lisa still longed for a relationship with Alan. Eventually they did get back together and were married in late 1984.

Their first daughter Anna was born premature. Lisa wondered if Anna’s early struggles were punishment for her earlier abortion. Anna had to have heart surgery when she was very young. The doctors gave the surgery only a 40% chance of success. The surgery was successful and Anna went home on a heart monitor when she reached 4 pounds. She experienced no more problems, and has lived a normal life, getting married and having three children.  Lisa would have a second daughter Alexis and then later a miscarriage. She continued to feel shame for the abortion.

Lisa and Al struggled financially in the early days of their marriage. Al and Jase went to preaching school and Al would preach at churches on the weekends. But Lisa didn’t want the life of a pastor’s wife. She was unhappy and had an inappropriate relationship with a married man. Al forgave her, but told her that if she was ever unfaithful again he would divorce her.

Later, she would have a 14-month affair with an old boyfriend. Lisa originally denied it, but Al confirmed it through Lisa’s cell phone records. Al asked her to leave the family home. That same night Lisa surrendered to Christ for the first time.

Lisa was then fired from Duck Commander when it was discovered that she had been stealing money to fund her affair (to pay for clothes and makeup). Their daughters were just 10 and 12 years old at the time

After much prayer, Al decided to choose forgiveness, despite many family members disagreeing with the decision. They purchased new wedding rings and renewed their wedding vows privately. Lisa wrote a letter of apology to family and tried to pay back the money she stole from Duck Commander, but Miss Kay would not allow it. Lisa also changed the way she dressed and acted around men, which previously had been provocative.

The couple now helps to counsel others and hold marriage retreats. They feel that if they can help one other couple from their story it will make their pain redemptive.

Al left the ministry in 2012 to work with Duck Commander and Duck Dynasty. An appendix is included in which they teach from scripture how men are to be respectful and women are to be lovable. 

Reading Together ~ Week 7

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 7: Bought with a Price: The Gospel and Sexual Morality

  • Our bodies have been created not only by God but also for God. This is a very different starting point than most people have in our culture. We are driven today by whatever can bring our bodies the most pleasure.
  • God wants you to experience the maximum joy for which your body is built, and as the Creator of our bodies, he knows what will bring them the most pleasure.
  • All throughout the Bible he gives us boundaries for how our bodies are to be used. But when we ignore these boundaries, it’s as if we’re saying to God, “You don’t know how this body is to be used. I know better than you do.”
  • There is not one instance in all of God’s Word where God advocates or celebrates sex outside of a marriage relationship between a husband and a wife. Not one.
  • According to God, sex with anyone who is not your husband or your wife is sin, whether that happens before marriage, during marriage, or after marriage. This prohibition also includes sex between a man and a man or a woman and a woman. On this the Bible is explicit.
  • God is clear in his Word that homosexual activity is prohibited.
  • In order to protect us from lusts, greeds, desires, and temptations that give birth to sin, the Bible also prohibits all sexual looking and thinking outside of marriage between a husband and a wife.
  • It is also wrong to provoke sexual desires in others outside of marriage.
  • God prohibits any kind of crude speech, humor, or entertainment that remotely revolves around sexual immorality.
  • Even Christians who refuse to indulge personally in sinful sexual activity often watch movies and shows, read books and articles, and visit Internet sites that highlight, display, promote, or make light of sexual immorality.
  • Ultimately, God prohibits sexual worship—the idolization of sex and infatuation with sexual activity as a fundamental means to personal fulfillment.
  • None of us are innocent of sexual immorality, and none of us are immune to it.
  • We live in a day when saying that heterosexual or homosexual activity is immoral is equivalent to saying a white or black person is inferior. But this line of thought is fundamentally flawed, for it denies the obvious distinction between ethnic identity and sexual activity. Ethnic identity is a morally neutral attribute. However, sexual activity is a morally chosen behavior.
  • We do not always choose our temptations. But we do choose our reactions to those temptations.
  • The Bible is clear and consistent, affirming with one voice from cover to cover that homosexual activity is sexual immorality before God.
  • The reality is that as soon as we advocate homosexual activity, we undercut biblical authority. And in the process of undercutting the authority of the Bible, we are undermining the integrity of the entire gospel. For if the Bible is wrong about certain issues, then who is to say what else the Bible is wrong about?
  • In our thinking, we actually begin to believe that our ways are better than God’s. We take this created gift called sex and use it to question the Creator God, who gave us the gift in the first place. We replace God’s pattern with our preferences, exchanging what God’s Word says about sexuality for what our observation and experience say about it. Yet we’re blind to our own foolishness. It’s as if we’re living out Proverbs 14:12—“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” The real danger here is our claim to know better than God what is best for our bodies and to justify sexual sin as a result.
  • Whether we are men or women, and whether we have heterosexual or homosexual attractions, we all possess sinful sexual desires. We all have darkened hearts that tempt us toward fulfilling those desires outside of marriage between a man and a woman. We all have disordered thoughts that are prone to explain and excuse acting upon those desires, even twisting God’s Word to make it say what we want it to say. We are all personally, biologically, culturally, and spiritually predisposed toward sexual sin—some of us are simply predisposed in ways that are more culturally acceptable. In the end, every single one of us is a sexual sinner. And that means every single one of us is desperate for a Savior.
  • Oh, to think of it! That Jesus, God in the flesh, took the penalty upon himself for all our adultery and all our pornography and every single lust we have ever had or will ever have. Indeed, Jesus has paid a steep price for our bodies.
  • According to the gospel of God’s grace, humbly repentant sexual sinners will enter into heaven. But unrepentant sexual sin will ultimately lead to hell.
  • Rosaria Champagne Butterfield was once a feminist scholar who delighted in disparaging the Bible and all who believe it. Through the compassionate engagement of a pastor who gently responded to a critical editorial she had written in a local newspaper, she saw and heard the gospel. This pastor and his wife showed God’s love to her. She started reading the Bible and wrestling with the question, “Did I really want to understand homosexuality from God’s point of view, or did I just want to argue with him?” This crisis of faith led her to what she describes as “one ordinary day” when she came to Christ. For her to come to Christ was to leave behind not only her lover but her entire lifestyle. The call to follow Christ in Rosaria Butterfield’s life was not an invitation to receive anything she wanted in this world. It was a summons to leave behind everything she had.
  • As the church in our culture, we must make sure not to preach a gospel that merely imagines Christ as the means to a casual, conservative, comfortable Christian spin on the American dream. Such a gospel won’t work in the gay and lesbian community—or anywhere else, for that matter. The gospel is a call for every one of us to die—to die to sin and to die to self—and to live with unshakable trust in Christ, choosing to follow his Word even when it brings us into clear confrontation with our culture. Such death to self requires an examination of sexuality in all of us. In what ways are you specifically prone to sexual activity outside of marriage between a man and a woman?
  • Examine what you watch and what you wear.
  • God has not left you in the dark regarding what you should do. “Flee!” he says. “Stop reasoning with sexual immorality, stop rationalizing it, and run from it. Flee every form of sexual immorality as fast as you can!”
  • Whether we’re male or female, married or divorced, single or cohabiting, heterosexual or homosexual, each of us has turned to our own way. But the good news of the gospel is that God has laid the punishment for our sin upon his Son. And for all who daily turn from themselves and trust in him, he promises the peace and calm of Christ himself amid a cultural sea of sexual confusion.
  • Moreover, in that culture, God beckons us to proclaim this gospel. To care enough for one another to call each other to flee from every form of sexual immorality. Not to sit back and stay quiet because that’s more convenient in the culture (or even in the church).

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Movie Reviews and More…

While We're YoungWhile We’re Young, rated R

Josh (Ben Stiller) 44, and Cornelia (Naomi Watts) 42, have been married for several years. They seem comfortable, but in a bit of a rut in their marriage. They haven’t had a vacation for several years, and Josh has been working on his latest documentary for ten years. The film is frankly a mess and nowhere near completed. They don’t have any children. They have tried, but Cornelia has lost the babies due to miscarriages. Babies, or the lack thereof, is a theme throughout this film. Another theme is dealing with aging and professional jealousy.

Cornelia’s father Leslie (Charles Grodin) is a famed documentary film maker, and Cornelia has assisted her father with some of his work in the past. Josh’s relationship with his father-in-law is strained on Josh’s part because he has not lived up to Leslie’s accomplishments.

As the film begins we see Josh teaching a class. A young couple greets him after class. Jamie (Adam Driver) seems to be a fan, indicating that he has seen and appreciated Josh’s earlier film, which both surprises and pleases Josh. Jamie is with his wife Darby (Amanda Seyfried). Soon, Josh and Cornelia begin spending time with the much younger couple. Josh, more so than Cornelia, seems enthralled by them. Soon, the older couple starts doing more young things (Josh starts wearing a trendy hat and Cornelia takes hip-hop dance classes), which begins to distance them from their friends, many of whom have recently had babies. That includes their former best friends played by Maria Dizzia and Adam Horovitz (Ad-Rock of the Beastie Boys).

Jamie shares with Josh an idea for his own documentary and flatters Josh by asking him to assist him. By the end of the film you wonder if things are as they appear – what is true and what isn’t. The film confronts us with the question whether truth really matters or not.

The film is billed as a comedy, and for the first part of the film there are light and funny aspects as the older couple starts entering into the younger couple’s world. I enjoyed that part of the film and from the trailer I thought that was what the film was about. But about half way into the film it shifts away from the comedy and comes off feeling disjointed (a few different films within the one), especially as it gets heavier near the end.

The film features a strong cast (Stiller, Watts, Driver, Grodin and Seyfried), and is directed by Noah Baumbach. Driver appeared in his 2012 Frances Ha and Stiller in his 2010 Greenberg.

The film is rated “R” for language, which seemed forced, not at all fitting in with the context and the characters. The morals (truth telling, infidelity), of some of the characters are questionable as well. My rating of 2 is based on a 3 for the first comedic part of the film and a 1 for the last heavier part.

Watch the film’s trailer here:

Art and CraftArt and Craft, not rated

Over the weekend, I noticed that our local independent theatre was planning to show a film called Art and Craft next weekend. I looked it up and it looked interesting. It was available on Amazon Instant Video, so we checked it out. This is a fascinating documentary about a complicated man, 59 year-old (though he looks much older), Mark Landis. Landis has been forging famous pieces of art for more than 30 years and has duped 46 art museums in twenty states across the country until a curator he duped became obsessed with stopping him. Matthew Leininger was the Curatorial Department Head at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, but lost his job due to this obsession.

Landis has been called one of the most prolific art forgers in U.S. history. He is actually very talented, but rather than creating his own original art pieces, he copies a wide range of painting styles and periods that includes 15th Century Icons, Picasso and Walt Disney. One of the interesting things about him is that he isn’t in it for the money. Instead, posing as a variety of characters (philanthropic donor, grieving family member, Jesuit priest), he visits art museums across the country offering to donate the pieces. He also talks about possible future substantial donations to the museums. As a result, over the years, the museum professionals have accepted hundreds of pieces of the forged art, and in some cases have displayed the pieces in their institutions.

Landis is a hunched over, thin man suffering from mental illness (he has been diagnosed with schizophrenia). He is soft spoken, and often talks lovingly of his mother, who died two years earlier, with whom he seems to be obsessed. He lives alone, often watching old television programs or films as he eats his microwaved meals alone. The film shows him creating several of his pieces, framed with materials from Wal-Mart and Hobby Lobby.

Landis, who lives in Laurel, Mississippi, and has operated under several pseudonyms over the years, contends that he hasn’t done anything wrong or illegal. What are discerning viewers to think of Landis? It’s obvious that he has lied to many over the years about the truth of the pieces that he has presented them. Viewers are left to wonder if he is mentally ill, evil or both. Are we to feel sorry for him or wish that he was prosecuted, although because he did not accept any money he technically hasn’t committed a crime?

The film is directed by Sam Cullman and Jennifer Grausman, who paint a sympathetic picture of Landis. They became aware of Landis from a 2011 article in The New York Times about him.

Here is the trailer for the film:

How Discerning are You?

 A few weeks ago I wrote an article titled “Living an Intentional Life”. In that article I mentioned a few ideas that had been swirling around in my head:

  • To be more intentional about the books I read.
  • To be more intentional about the blogs I read.
  • To be more intentional about the time I spend with my wife.
  • To be more intentional about the television programs I watch.

Recently after reading my review of the film Danny Collins, a trusted friend asked me a question about one of those – the movies I watch and review on the blog. She asked “Don’t you think just by giving your money and your time to viewing movies with content like this you’re giving your stamp of approval?”

That’s a great question. If I give a positive review (three stars or better), with no qualifications, yes I do feel that I am giving the film my stamp of approval. In the case of Danny Collins, I gave the film a positive review with qualifications, based primarily on the excellent acting performances. The lead character did try to change his life and it was called redemption, but it was not the kind of redemption that is in Christ.  I was also able to isolate the scene containing nudity using helpful websites that I list below so that I could warn readers who wanted to see the film to watch with discernment.

In all I do I try to be intentional and discerning with how I spend my time – what I watch, read, who I spend time with, etc. Sometimes I’m more discerning than others. Watching the television program The Good Wife is an example of not being discerning enough. My wife and I decided to give the show a try because a lot of people were telling us that they enjoyed it. We enjoyed the show and started binge-watching it. However, the sexual content and worldview portrayed was abysmal. As the head of our household, I should have demonstrated more leadership and said that we shouldn’t be watching it, but I didn’t. In another instance I demonstrated better discernment when we did stop watching the first episode this season of Kevin Bacon’s The Following after about 10 minutes due to objectionable content. We’re done with that series.

Tammy and I love to go to movies. Since we were married almost 35 years ago we’ve gone to a movie most Friday nights as a part of our Date Night. However, most films have some level of objectionable content, be it language, sexuality, extreme violence or a worldview that we disagree with. And let’s face it, most faith based movies are usually poorly made, despite the intentions of those involved.

Over the years we have walked out of a few films that had objectionable content, and there are some we should have, such as 2014’s critics’ favorite Birdman. These days we do research on the film before deciding to see it. I usually start with Rotten Tomatoes to see what the critics and regular people like us have to say about the film. I also look to see what the rating is, and why it has been given that rating (language, sexual content, violence, etc.).

If I have more questions about the content issues, I’ll check a few sites that review films from a Christian perspective. The ones I most frequently check, and recommend to you are:

Plugged In
Kids in Mind
Christianity Today

One final thought – Kevin DeYoung’s excellent message “Do Not Love the World” from the 2015 Ligonier National Conference touches on some of these same thoughts. In discussing films that we watch with sexual content he asks us to imaging walking by a couple getting intimate on a park bench. He asks if we would pull up a chair and sit down and watch them, saying that is in effect what we do when we watch just that on screens “as big as our houses”. I’ve already listened to the message a few times, and recommend that you check it out here.

What do you think about this topic of discernment? How discerning are you with what you subject your eyes and heart to? Let us know.

Movie News

  • Blade Runner Sequel. Ryan Goslin is in negotiations to star with Harrison Ford in the sequel to the 1982 film.

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Movie Review ~ Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2

Paul Blart Mall Cop 2Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, rated PG
Zero Stars

We enjoyed 2009’s Paul Blart: Mall Cop, starring Kevin James, which made $146 million, with a budget of only $29 million. We’ve seen James in concert and he was funny and clean, a rarity for comedians these days. So we were looking forward to this sequel. However, with the film checking in at 0% positive reviews on Rotten, we didn’t have high hopes, and let’s just say, well, it lived down to our expectations.

After six years of keeping our malls safe, the portly and self-important mall cop Paul Blart (James) is invited to a security guard convention held at the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas. We’re told that he is no longer married and his mom has died since we last saw him (both stories are played for laughs). So Blart and daughter Maya (Raini Rodriguez) take off for Las Vegas, with Maya keeping some important information from her father.

While Paul is given reason to believe that he will be asked to give the keynote address at the convention banquet, Vincent (Neal McDonough) and his crew are stealing valuable artwork from the hotel. Maya enjoys spending time with Lane (David Henrie), an employee of the hotel, much to the chagrin of her overbearing father. There is also a silly storyline about the attractive Divina (Daniella Alonso) coming on to Blart throughout the film.

The film is directed by Andy Fickman and written by James and Nick Bakay. It includes a lot of physical humor from the Segway riding mall cop, but this film is anything but funny. I found myself looking at my watch and thinking of walking out – it was that bad. As far as objectionable content, there is no sexual content or profanity included. Rather, I found the entire film objectionable due to how bad it was. Once I saw it was associated with Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison production company I knew we were in trouble. Not even the usually likeable James can save this film. We wanted to like this film, and were hoping for a few good, clean laughs that weren’t shown in the film’s trailer, but that didn’t happen.  It is currently standing at the top of our ‘Worst Films of 2015’ list.  Do yourself a favor and stay away from this one. It will be on video soon enough.