Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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Reflections on the Supreme Court Ruling on Marriage

CarnacCharleston, The Rebel Flag and Gay Marriage by Tammy Pence

Do you remember Johnny Carson as Carnac the Magnificent? He would make diverse statements and ‘magically’ open an envelope to tell you the answer as to how they tied together.

I’ve been mulling over these three things, and believe they reflect how Christians should respond to the recent Supreme Court decision. In case you’ve been having a screen-fast (abstaining from using TV, phone, computer screens) here’s a short synopsis from Allen West:

…. five justices on the SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) redefined what marriage is in America and also found the time to violate the concept of federalism. They decided that an individual’s behavioral choice was grounds to create a new “right” in the U.S. Constitution. … The Court used Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment to justify its argument, which reads: Amendment XIV Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law, which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

It will be interesting to see how the gay agenda proceeds from here, now that they feel powerfully affirmed. At one time in recent history they felt oppressed. But now will they take their power to oppress others or will they use their past experience to bring healing and unity, not boycotts and harassment? We shall see. Mark Oppenheimer’s recent article in Time magazine entitled, “Now’s the Time To End Tax Exemptions for Religious Institutions” might be a sample of coming attractions.

But take a deep breath! Our calling as Christians hasn’t changed one iota, and is not dependent upon circumstances or the government or its laws. See Tim Brister’s article, “How Christians Live in Post-Christendom”.

We were given a horrible yet wonderful example in the murders in Charleston, SC. What were the families and community’s reactions to their loved ones being gunned down? The members of the media were salivating, hoping to see protests, riots, looting and violence; these were previous responses to people being killed by white police officers.

But what did we see happen in Charleston? People gathering in churches to pray together and support one another; lamenting the loss of loved ones together. An Outpouring of Love, Grace, Peace and even Forgiveness.

The media didn’t get their expected story, so they had to create it. Enter the Confederate flag controversy, along with the usual anti-gun protests. All of a sudden the focus is taken off of families grieving together and put onto a controversy. (By the way, are there any news stations that just report the news, not just spend the entire day hammering on one news story?)

Diversion from focusing on the good is a classic tool of the devil. It even happens in churches – you could be sitting in a meeting, excited about setting the vision for the future, when someone chirps up to get you off track onto controversies within the church. Next thing you know, hours have gone by, you’re deflated and tired, and never once talked about the church’s vision.

God is still sovereign (Proverbs 21:1 ~ “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He will.”). We as Christians are still to be salt and light, regardless of circumstances and current controversies: Speaking the truth in love – not wavering from Biblical truth but continuing to love our neighbors as ourselves. While giving the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus preaches to us about the Beatitudes in Matthew 5. In verse 16 He says: “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Convictions

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Written by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend

Written by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend

  • Top 10 Quotes from the Dissenting Justices on Same-Sex Marriage. Thanks to Trevin Wax for compiling these quotes.
  • We’ve Been Here Before: Lessons for the Marriage Debate from the Pro-Life Movement. Russell Moore writes “The pro-life movement’s victories were only possible because its champions understood that legal consensus is never the final word. Imagine how much different the cause for life and dignity would look today if that first generation of pro-life advocates decided that being on the wrong side of the Supreme Court and the wrong side of history was just too high a price to pay. Thank God that was not them, and God forbid it should be us. Let’s follow their lead onward.”
  • So-Called Same-Sex Marriage: Lamenting the New Calamity. John Piper writes “What’s new is not even the celebration and approval of homosexual sin. Homosexual behavior has been exploited, and reveled in, and celebrated in art, for millennia. What’s new is normalization and institutionalization. This is the new calamity.”
  • The Briefing Special Edition: Supreme Court Ruling on Same Sex Marriage. Albert Mohler offers his thoughts on the ruling that redefines marriage.
  • Here We Stand: An Evangelical Declaration on Marriage. The Ethics & Religious Liberties Commission released “Here We Stand”, a statement of dissent signed by a number of Christian leaders including Bryan Chapell, Trip Lee, Mark Dever, Kevin DeYoung, Albert Mohler, Matt Chandler, David Platt, Russell Moore, Rosaria Butterfield, D.A. Carson, J.I. Packer and many more.
  • Why the Church Should Neither Cave Nor Panic about the Decision on Gay Marriage. Russell Moore writes “The Court now has disregarded thousands of years of definition of the most foundational unit of society, and the cultural changes here will be broad and deep. So how should the church respond?”
  • But What Does the Bible Say? Kevin DeYoung writes “The cultural breezes are blowing against us. The worldly winds are stiff in our faces. But the hard parts of the Bible are no less true for being less popular. The Bible says what it says, so let us be honest enough to say whether we think what the Bible says is right or wrong.” See my review of Kevin’s book What Does the Bible Really Says about Homosexuality?
  • Everything Has Changed and Nothing Has Changed — The Supreme Court Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage. Albert Mohler writes “The Supreme Court’s decision yesterday is a central assault upon marriage as the conjugal union of a man and a woman and in a five to four decision the nation’s highest court has now imposed its mandate redefining marriage on all fifty states.”
  • CBMW’s Official response to the SCOTUS Ruling. The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood writes “The U. S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges tragically continues the culture’s shift away from biblical wisdom. As the board and leadership of The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, we are not moving an inch from our fundamental commitments to biblical marriage, to manhood and womanhood, and to the God-created natural family.”
  • The Only Decision That Matters. Hershael York writes “Because of this Supreme Court ruling Christians who have contented themselves with a nebulous theology and a generic commitment to the parts of the Bible they deem palatable will now be pressed to probe the Scriptures and their own presuppositions like never before. Congregations who have survived on a cultural predisposition toward churches are about to discover what it means to thrive on Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ. Believers who have worked to keep their faith separate from the rest of their lives will discover that they can no longer be secret disciples because they are going to be asked bluntly and sometimes with great hostility.”
  • A Prophetic Word from Eleven Years Ago about Today. Denny Burk writes “Eleven years ago, John Piper delivered a message about “Discerning the Will of God Concerning Homosexuality and Marriage.” The message made an impression on me, and for many years now I’ve been reading a portion of this sermon every semester to my undergraduate hermeneutics students.”
  • D.A. Carson on The Supreme Court Same-Sex Marriage Decision. Listen to Tony Reinke’s interview with D.A. Carson on the “Ask Pastor John” podcast.
  • Is Gay Now the New Black? In this four-minute video, Voddie Baucham explains the similarities between the Civil Rights and so-called Gay Rights Movement, while highlighting the significant differences between ethnicity and sexual orientation.
  • How Did We Get Here? Desensitize, Normalize, Demonize, Legalize, (Victimize)! Caleb Kolstad writesFor many decades the LGBT movement has worked tirelessly in effort to fundamentally transform America’s conscience with regards to sexuality and gender.  This has been achieved, in large part, with direct assistance from Hollywood.”
  • What Your Church Needs to Know – And Do – About the Court’s Marriage Ruling. Erik Stanley writes “In coming days, the threat from these non-discrimination laws will materialize in numerous ways as same-sex couples marry. But there are proactive steps your church can take to protect itself.”
  • Four Ways Christians Need to Respond in Love to the Supreme Court Decision on Same-Sex Marriage. Our friend Kevin Halloran writes “One of the chief ways Christians influence the culture and shine the light of Christ is by their love. Here are four ways.”
  • John MacArthur’s Letter to Master’s Seminary Alumni. MacArthur writes to fellow pastors to help them frame the issue in a biblical way. He writes “In the final analysis, your greatest contribution to your people will be to show patience and a steady confidence in the sovereignty of God, the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and the authority of Scripture. Turn their eyes toward the Savior, and remind them that when He returns, all will be made right.”

QUOTES:

  • I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. Now, for me as a Christian — for me — for me as a Christian, it is also a sacred union. God’s in the mix. Barack Obama (April 17, 2008)
  • What did John need to see in the crazed, out-of-control, spiraling downward world of Rome? The occupied throne of heaven: Rev.4:1-2 Us too! Scotty Smith
  • America is changing, the Word of God is not. Burk Parsons
  • The gospel of Jesus Christ has not changed. The church’s mission has not changed. Albert Mohler
  •  Marriage was not invented by men but by God. R.C. Sproul
  • There is only one power strong enough to turn around our nation, the soul-saving, life-changing power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Steven Lawson
  • On the wrong side of history? We started on the wrong side of history—a Roman Empire and a cross. Rome’s dead and Jesus is fine.  Russell Moore
  • God is love, but He also defines what love is. We don’t have the license to define love according to our standards. Francis Chan

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Movie Review ~ Max

MaxMax, rated PG
** ½

Max is a military dog. I thought he was a German Shepherd, but was actually a Belgian Malinois. Max has been trained since he was a pup to serve as a military dog by Kyle Wilcott (Robbie Amell). Max would serve the Marines in Afghanistan by going ahead of them at Kyle’s direction to search out weapons and bombs.

When Kyle is killed in an attack, Max is sent home. He is suffering from the loss of Kyle and PTSD; he’s considered unfit for duty and is going to be put down. The Wilcott family – military veteran father Robbie (Thomas Haden Church), mother Pamela (Lauren Graham), and younger son Justin (Josh Wiggins), who loves to ride his bike with friends and also makes money by selling illegally downloaded and copied video games, agree to take the traumatized Max in order to save his life. Justin, who is not close to his father, is told by him that he will have responsibility for the hard to handle dog, who seems to recognize that Justin is the brother of his former handler. Justin also gets help from his best friend Chuy’s (Dejon LaQuake) cousin Carmen (Mia Xitlali), who Justin immediately takes a liking to.

Tyler (Luke Kleintank), Kyle’s friend and former squad mate who survived the battle that Kyle was killed in, returns home. He tells Kyle’s family that he suffered injuries from the explosion that killed Kyle, and thus why he was sent back home. Soon he is hired by Robbie at his storage locker business. But both Kyle and Robbie have secrets. Kyle’s secret will lead to a major plotline in the film.

The film kept our interest, was entertaining and well-made. It’s a film that will appeal to a lot of young boys (there were a number in the showing we attended) and dog lovers. The film shows a family trying to stay together after the grief of losing a son and brother. The family does seem to have faith, particularly mother Pamela. The film will pull on your emotional heartstrings and contains some violence, both between people and dogs.

The film is directed by Boaz Yakin, who directed the 2000 film Remember the Titans, starring Denzel Washington. The film is dedicated to military dogs and their handlers, about 26 of each have been killed in battle in the past decade.


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Music News and Reviews

Unbroken Praise – Matt RedmanUnbroken Praise, Matt Redman
****

Matt Redman, with the possible exception of Chris Tomlin, is arguably the most influential worship songwriter that the modern church has been blessed with. He chose to record his latest album live in front of an audience of about 300 (who participate in the live worship by singing along), at the legendary Abbey Road studios in London. The album cover features the signatures from everyone who made the album possible (songwriters, musicians, producers, technicians, etc.). Redman stated “”Unbroken Praise reveals a heart not wanting to be beaten down by the things of life, but to actually increase worship in those moments.”

Below are brief comments on each of these wonderful new songs:

Louder – an upbeat song to start the worship, featuring the chorus:

We lift our voices, lift our voices

Make Your praise so glorious, glorious

It is Well with My Soul – features the chorus from Horatio G. Spafford’s 1873 hymn.

Flames – compares our praise offerings to the flame of a fire.

Let all our hallelujahs be Yours

All our hallelujahs be Yours

From the altar of our hearts, O God

Let flames of worship rise

Unbroken Praise – a last minute addition to the recording.

We give our praise unbroken, praise unending to God forevermore

Abide With Me – co-written with Matt Maher. The song also appeared on Maher’s excellent Sinners and Saints album. This is probably my favorite new song of 2015 thus far.

King Of My Soul – an upbeat song that will be good for contemporary worship services. Redman’s desire is to let our lives be undivided in our worship of God.

Songs In The Night – a wonderful song that speaks of the sovereignty of God in the midst of storms. We will wait on the Lord praising Him, confident because He is our peace in the storm.

No One Like Our God – a song that speaks clearly about how there is no one like our God and Savior. His blessing and His love is great. A joyous song that will be wonderful for congregational singing.

The Awesome God You Are – a song that first appeared earlier this year on the Passion Even So Come album. Features the worshipful chorus:

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

Believe You as

The awesome God You are

No Longer I – Uses the refrain from Isaac Watt’s 1707 hymn “Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed” (sometimes known as “At the Cross”), changing the last line from “And now I’m happy all the day!” to “Now, no longer I but Christ in me”. The refrain was not actually written by Watts, but by Ralph E. Hudson in 1885.

Majesty Of The Most High – a mostly acoustic song. We bow before the majesty, holiness and amazing grace of the Most High God. Just one glimpse of God and we will be changed.

Redman has done it again. He is so very talented in giving the church the gift of songs that we can sing in worship of our God. I’m sure these wonderful songs will be sung in worship services around the world very soon.

musicnews

  • Top 10 Lecrae Songs. Artist Direct has compiled this list of Lecrae’s top 10 songs. What do you think? Agree? Disagree? What songs would be on your list?
  • Chris Tomlin Christmas Album. Tomlin recently spent two nights recording his second live Christmas album. I can’t wait!
  • For the Church: Singing Come, Thou Savior, Spread Thy Table. Randall Van Meggelen continues his series looking at the songs from the new Glory to the Holy One album from Jeff Lippencott and R.C. Sproul. You can listen to the song and follow along with the lyrics in this article.
  • Stretch of the Highway. Did you see James Taylor perform this song off of his new album Before the World on The Tonight Show?

Song of the Week
This week we look at “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us”, written by Stuart Townend in 1995.

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

music quote 1Music Quotes

  • Jesus doesn’t love me because of my perfect character, He loves me because of His. Lecrae

What you say you believe about God doesn’t matter if it doesn’t make a meaningful difference in how you live. KB


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Book Reviews

Book Reviews

Amy Carmichael by Iain MurrayAmy Carmichael: Beauty for Ashes by Iain H. Murray. Banner of Truth. 192 pages. 2015.
****

I have read several fine books by Iain Murray, the most recent being a biography of John MacArthur (whose wife Patricia wrote the Foreword to this book). I also saw him speak on revival several years ago. I thoroughly enjoyed this short biography of Amy Carmichael, someone I was aware of, but did not know much about prior to reading this book.

Amy was born in 1867 in Ireland. She would meet Robert Wilson, who Murray writes gave Amy a closer knowledge of overseas missions. Amy left for Japan with the China Inland Mission in 1893, where she stayed fifteen months. Some of her experiences during this time would mark the rest of her life.

On October 11, 1895, she left Britain at the age of twenty-seven never to return. She moved to serve in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). She responded to an opening in the work of the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society in India. She would need to learn the Tamil language.

Murray writes of Amy meeting Thomas Walker, a clergyman of the Church of England, working with the Church Missionary Society in the Tinnevelly district of south India. The Walkers invited her to join them in Tinnevelly, to study the language. By the end of 1896 Amy was with the Walkers, beginning one of the strongest influences in her life.

Murray writes: “In 1900 Thomas Walker had decided that a disused Church Missionary Society mission station at a place thirty miles north of Cape Comorin—India’s southern point—would be a better and quieter site for the ordination classes he took for divinity students. This was Dohnavur, a ‘Christian’ village which he had first visited in 1886. The strength of Walker’s leadership in the early days at Dohnavur was vital but, before 1904 ended, Amy had to take on that role herself. Walkers left for England in December 1904.”

Carmichael’s most notable work, beginning in 1901, was with girls and young women, some of whom were saved from forced temple prostitution. By June 1904, seventeen children, six of them former temple children, were in Amy’s care, and even when the number was depleted by the death of three babies, Murray writes that it was clear that her evangelistic travels had to end.

To all the children Amy was known as ‘Amma’ (mother). The children came to nick-name her ‘the Hare’. She would use a tricycle to move even faster between the various buildings. Not a child went to sleep at night without a kiss from Amy.

Murray writes that Amy Carmichael’s life was one of times of refreshing and then of trials. In part she explained that demonic activity follows the work of the Holy Spirit.

Through the years of the First World War, and on into the 1920s, the work at Dohnavur grew, more land was bought, and by 1923 there were thirty nurseries, each with a mother for the children. By 1926 there was to be a boys’ compound with some seventy to eighty children. By the 1940s there were some 900 children and grown-ups, including between forty and fifty helpers. The hospital work grew to such an extent that a medical superintendent was needed, as well as three doctors.

Murray writes about Stephen Neill, who in 1939 would become Bishop of Tinnevelly. Neill didn’t adhere to the inerrancy of scripture. As a result, he was asked to leave by Amy.

At the age of sixty-three Amy broke her leg, dislocated an ankle and twisted her spine. After this time, her life would be spent very largely in her room. Through most of the years which followed she wrote a short daily message to the whole family with some scriptural truth and often bearing on the necessity of unity. Amy was a gifted writer who produced many books and hundreds of hymns and poems. Among the thirteen books Amy wrote after her accident, seven were on what it means to live with Christ in all the circumstances of trials of life.   Murray writes that in these she wrote not of her own experience but out of it.

A fall in her room in 1948 meant a virtual end of movement for the last two and a half years of her life. She turned 83 on December 16, 1950 and died on January 18, 1951. She was buried according to her instructions in the garden beyond her windows. It was ‘God’s Garden’, for here were buried the babies, children, and grown-ups who had gone before. There was to be no memorial stone.

Murray does address some possible concerns with Carmichael. One of them was in taking direction from a single verse of Scripture, rather than guidance from general scriptural principles and prayerful reflection.

Murray writes that two main features stand out both in Amy Carmichael’s life and in her writings. The first is the place of quietness in the life of the Christian. The second feature of her life was love.

Murray states that today, while rescue from temple prostitution in India is no longer needed, 15 million women in India are still living in slavery. As a shelter for needy children, Dohnavur continues its work, on the same principles with which it was founded, and is led entirely by Christians of Indian nationality. No appeal has ever been made for money, only for prayer, but many, through the years, have sent sacrificial gifts. Never has an unprotected child been refused for lack of funds: never has a patient needed to be turned away because he or she could not pay for medical help. You can find out more about the Fellowship and Amy Carmichael at the following sites:

www.thedohnavurfellowship.org

www.amycarmichael.org

 Prayer by Tim KellerPrayer Book Club

Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God by Tim Keller

Tammy and I are reading our fourth book since I graduated from seminary, one of Tim Keller’s most recent books. We’ll start by looking at the Introduction:

  • Recent writers on prayer tend to have one of two views on the subject. Most now emphasize prayer as a means to experience God’s love and to know oneness with him. They promise a life of peace and of continual resting in God. Other books, however, see the essence of prayer not as inward resting but as calling on
  • God to bring in his kingdom. Prayer is viewed as a wrestling match, often—or perhaps ordinarily—without a clear sense of God’s immediate presence.
  • What accounts for these two views—what we could call “communion-centered” and “kingdom-centered” prayer? One explanation is that they reflect people’s actual experience.
  • However, theological differences also play a role.
  • Which view of prayer is the better one? Is peaceful adoration or assertive supplication the ultimate form of prayer? That question assumes that the answer is completely either-or, which is unlikely.
  • Besides looking at the actual prayers of the Bible, we should consider also the Scripture’s theology of prayer—the reasons in God and in our created nature that human beings are able to pray.
  • Thus the Bible gives us theological support for both communion-centered and kingdom-centered prayer.
  • A little reflection will show us that these two kinds of prayer are neither opposites nor even discrete categories.
  • We may pray for the coming of God’s kingdom, but if we don’t enjoy God supremely with all our being, we are not truly honoring him as Lord.
  • This book will show that prayer is both conversation and encounter with God. These two concepts give us a definition of prayer and a set of tools for deepening our prayer lives.
  • The traditional forms of prayer—adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication—are concrete practices as well as profound experiences.
  • We must know the awe of praising his glory, the intimacy of finding his grace, and the struggle of asking his help, all of which can lead us to know the spiritual reality of his presence.
  • Prayer, then, is both awe and intimacy, struggle and reality. These will not happen every time we pray, but each should be a major component of our prayer over the course of our lives.

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This & That and Favorite Quotes of the Week

This and ThatIN THE NEWS:Elisabeth Elliot

Courtesy of World Magazine

Courtesy of World Magazine

THEOLOGY:

  • Mr. Temporary. In the conclusion of Paul’s second letter to Timothy, Paul had been deserted by his once-committed friend, Demas. Demas’s actions were motivated by a deeper problem: he had come to love this world and had cast aside his love for Jesus. Like Demas, all Christians have the potential to fall away from our commitment to Christ. In this sermon, Alistair Begg presents an example to avoid as he urges us to turn away from sin and persevere in obedience to God, our Savior.
  • 250+ Free Online Seminary Classes, Courses, Programs, and Book Recommendations. Looking to develop your summer growth plan? Here is my plan. Our friend Kevin Halloran shares these helpful resources.

VIDEO AND BOOKS:

CHRISTIAN LIVING:

  • How Should Christians Fast? Tim Challies shares 6 guidelines for the practice of fasting from a booklet by Daniel Hyde.
  • So You Got Your First Smartphone… Tim Challies writes “It can be used to do so many good things, but if you are not wary, it can also be used to do an awful lot of bad things. So before you power it on for the first time, I think it would be wise to invest just a few minutes in thinking and planning.”
  • A Self-Pity Refresher. Eric Davis shares some of self-pity’s dangers.
  • How Should We View Muslims? Randy Alcorn writes “We can and should love Muslims, pray for them, defend their civil rights, reach out and help them. But we can still believe their religion is false and that no matter how devoutly they practice it, without Christ they will go to Hell.”
  • The First Two Steps Out of Pornography Addiction. Heath Lambert counsels people with two practical first steps to take in defeating their addiction to pornography. Both are humble pleas for help – Pray and tell someone else.
  • Same Sex Attraction. Read J.D. Greear’s five-part series on this subject
  • Our Odyssey Against Sexual Temptation. Jimmy Needham writes “Fight for this pleasure every day. It’s the fight beneath every other fight in the Christian life. It’s the fight for joy in God.” Read the article and listen to his new song “Sirens” from his album Vice & Virtue”.
  • 12 Questions for a Six-Month Spiritual Checkup. Chuck Lawless shares these helpful questions.
  • Where Real Courage Comes From. Jon Bloom asks “Where does courage come from? And how do you get it when you need it, when some fear towers over you and threatens you, and you feel like cowering and fleeing into some cave of protection?”
  • 4 Ways to Reach a Child’s Heart. Richard Phillips shares four good things that a godly father plants in the hearts of his children.
  • Why Are So Many Christians Unhappy? Jim Johnston writes “Half-hearted Christians are not happy Christians. Hope in God, and don’t run after other gods. That is the path to joy.”
  • A Prayer for Those Days and Seasons When We Feel Outnumbered. Here’s a wonderful prayer from our friend Scotty Smith.
  • The Comfort of Jesus’ Prayers. R.C. Sproul writes “Christ’s priestly work did not end on the cross. Every day, in the presence of the Father, Christ intercedes for His people.”

CHURCH LIFE AND LEADERS:

SPORTS:

  • Now That’s a Bad Start to a Round of Golf. On June 13, Russia’s Andrey Pavlov shot a disastrous 17 on the par-five first during his second round at the Diamond Country Club, tying for the second-worst score in European Tour history.

JUST FOR FUN:

  • Near Vertical Takeoff. Watch this Boeing 787 Dreamliner make a near vertical takeoff.
  • Sherlock. We’ve recently been watching the PBS series Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes (The Imitation Game) and Martin Freeman (The Hobbit trilogy). The series has had three seasons thus far with a fourth in production now. Each episode is 90 minutes, or like watching a movie. The writing is extremely sharp and the acting excellent. Have you watched it?
  • Seinfeld Fed Up with Political Correctness. Did you see comedian Jerry Seinfeld recently on Late Night with Seth Meyers?
  • Slow Jams with Jeb Bush. Did you see former Florida Governor Jeb Bush recently on The Tonight Show?
  • Two James Taylors on a See-Saw. Did you see this recently on The Tonight Show?
Doug Michael’s Cartoon of the Week

Doug Michael’s Cartoon of the Week

Favorite Quotes Favorite Quotes of the Week 6.21.2015

 THE BIBLE:

  • Defend the Bible? I’d sooner defend a lion. You don’t defend the Bible; you open its cage and let it roar. Charles Spurgeon
  • Nowhere in the Bible is God described as looking for “great worship”; but he is seeking true worshippers… a people, not a show (John 4). Scotty Smith
  • We don’t go to Scripture for permission to do what we think is best, but for direction to do what He says is best. David Platt
  • Whatever you read, read the Bible first. Beware of bad books: there are plenty in this day. Take heed what you read. J.C. Ryle
  • God does not bestow the Spirit on his people, in order to set aside the use of his word, but rather to render it fruitful. John Calvin

SIN:

  • You must be made miserable before you can know true Christian joy. Indeed the real trouble with the miserable Christian is that he has never been truly made miserable because of conviction of sin. He has by-passed the essential preliminary to joy, he has been assuming something that he has no right to assume. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
  • It was not the volume of sin that sent Christ to the cross; it was the fact of sin. Ravi Zacharias
  • The sinner’s problem with hell is not the absence of God, but the presence of God. R.C. Sproul
  • For unbelievers, at the final judgment, there will not be one drop of mercy, only perfect justice–so much sin, so much wrath. Steven Lawson
  • To expose our minds constantly to ungodly thinking is a great danger. Alistair Begg

TO SPUR YOU ON TO LOVE AND GOOD DEEDS:

  • We are not to be living specimens of men in fine preservation, but living sacrifices, whose lot is to be consumed. Charles Spurgeon
  • When George Müller turned 70, he fulfilled his dream of missionary work for 17 years until he was 87. Got that, boomers? John Piper
  • In preaching, the ultimate crime is to propound falsehood; the penultimate crime is to let the faith seem boring or irrelevant. Dan Doriani
  • Gospel progress happens not when we have pity on the weak but solidarity with the weak. Scott Sauls
  • God is absolutely sovereign, but his sovereignty never mitigates human responsibility. D. A. Carson
  • Everything is necessary that God sends our way; nothing can be necessary that he withholds. John Newton
  • We need to be more concerned about who we are before God than our reputation before people. Francis Chan
  • We run the race not by looking aside, comparing ourselves with other Christians, but by keeping our eyes fixed on Christ at the finish line. Burk Parsons
  • The best way to leave a legacy is to believe, teach, defend, and promote what is true. Kevin DeYoung
  • There is no happiness finally, there is no peace, there is no joy except we be right with God. The miserable Christian is wrong in his ideas as to how this rightness with God is to be obtained. Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones  

TO COMFORT YOU:

  • He makes those just who are unjust, forgives those who deserve to be punished, and favors those who deserve no favor. Charles Spurgeon
  • Jesus, sparrows are fed and fields are clothed, storms are stilled and days are numbered by you. Forgive me for living otherwise. Scotty Smith
  •  The richest treasure God has for you are the people in your life. Give thanks and don’t take them for granted. Kevin DeYoung
  • God enabled me to speak with the demonstration of the Spirit, and with power. George Whitefield
  • Every blessing we receive from God comes through our union with Christ. Union with Christ is greater than everything. Father, thanks for hiding us in Christ. Scotty Smith


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Faith and Work ~ Connecting Sunday to Monday

spurgy quoteFaith and Work Quotes:

When work is your identity, if you are successful it goes to your head, if you are a failure it goes to your heart.  Tim Keller

At some point every one of us confronts the question: How do I find and fulfill the central purpose of my life? Os Guinness

  • Leaders aren’t born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. Vince Lombardi
  • Leadership is like coaching. Recruit great players. Train. Motivate. Keep developing. Help them have their best game. Celebrate wins. Ron Edmondson
  • As modern people we are all on a search for significance. We desire to make a difference. We long to leave a legacy. Os Guinness
  • In 1962 there were zero articles on self-esteem in the education journals. By 1992 there were 2,500 a year. David Brooks
  • In leadership, the quality of your success is often directly proportional to the quality of your investment in others. Ron Edmondson
  • A wise man will cultivate a servant’s spirit, for that particular attribute attracts people like no other. Andy Andrews
  • What I have learned about mentoring is that when you help others you learn a lot too. Be intentional about spending time with others. Ken Blanchard
  • I define anxiety as experiencing failure in advance. Seth Godin.
  • What are you busy doing? As a leader, you should be busy serving others. Mark Miller
  • Success is never owned, it’s rented and rent is due every day. Coach K
  • Are you becoming the kind of person you want to be? Are you growing into the kind of person you admire? Dr. Alan Zimmerman
  • To be successful, leaders have to fight (often enormous) pressure and expectations and discover how to effectively use the word no. Ron Edmondson.

Faith and Work News:

Book Clubs – Won’t you read along with us?

 The Advantage by Patrick LencioniThe Advantage Book Club

The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business by Patrick Lencioni

I’m reading this book with a few colleagues at work. This time we look at Behavior 2: Mastering Conflict.

  • Contrary to popular wisdom and behavior, conflict is not a bad thing for a team. In fact, the fear of conflict is almost always a sign of problems.
  • Of course, the kind of conflict I’m referring to here is not the nasty kind that centers around people or personalities. Rather, it is what I call productive ideological conflict, the willingness to disagree, even passionately when necessary, around important issues and decisions that must be made. But this can only happen when there is trust.
  • When team members trust one another, when they know that everyone on the team is capable of admitting when they don’t have the right answer, and when they’re willing to acknowledge when someone else’s idea is better than theirs, the fear of conflict and the discomfort it entails is greatly diminished. When there is trust, conflict becomes nothing but the pursuit of truth, an attempt to find the best possible answer. It is not only okay but desirable. Conflict without trust, however, is politics, an attempt to manipulate others in order to win an argument regardless of the truth.
  • But that’s not to say that even productive conflict isn’t a little uncomfortable.
  • Overcoming the tendency to run from discomfort is one of the most important requirements for any leadership team—in fact, for any leader.
  • Avoiding conflict creates problems even beyond boring meetings and poorly vetted decisions, as bad as those things are. When leadership team members avoid discomfort among themselves, they only transfer it in far greater quantities to larger groups of people throughout the organization they’re supposed to be serving. In essence, they leave it to others below them to try to resolve issues that really must be addressed at the top. This contributes to employee angst and job misery as much as anything else in organizational life.
  • As critical as conflict is, it’s important to understand that different people, different families, and different cultures participate in conflict in different ways.
  • When people fail to be honest with one another about an issue they disagree on, their disagreement around that issue festers and ferments over time until it transforms into frustration around that person.
  • When it comes to the range of different conflict dynamics in an organization, I’ve found there is a continuum of sorts. At one end of that continuum is no conflict at all. I call this artificial harmony, because it is marked by a lot of false smiling and disingenuous agreement around just about everything, at least publicly. At the other end of the continuum is relentless, nasty, and destructive conflict, with people constantly at one another’s throats. As you move away from the extreme of artificial harmony, you encounter more and more constructive conflict. Somewhere in the middle of those two extremes is the demarcation line where good, constructive conflict crosses over into the destructive kind.
  • The optimal place to be on this continuum is just to the left of the demarcation line (the Ideal Conflict Point). That would be the point where a team is engaged in all the constructive conflict they could possibly have, but never stepping over the line into destructive territory.
  • Nowhere does this tendency toward artificial harmony show itself more than in mission-driven nonprofit organizations, most notably churches. People who work in those organizations tend to have a misguided idea that they cannot be frustrated or disagreeable with one another. What they’re doing is confusing being nice with being kind.
  • When leadership team members fail to disagree around issues, not only are they increasing the likelihood of losing respect for one another and encountering destructive conflict later when people start griping in the hallways, they’re also making bad decisions and letting down the people they’re supposed to be serving. And they do this all in the name of being “nice.”
  • Even when teams understand the importance of conflict, it is frequently difficult to get them to engage in it.
  • One of the best ways for leaders to raise the level of healthy conflict on a team is by mining for conflict during meetings. This happens when they suspect that unearthed disagreement is lurking in the room and gently demand that people come clean.
  • By looking for and exposing potential and even subtle disagreements that have not come to the surface, team leaders—and, heck, team members can do it too—avoid the destructive hallway conversations that inevitably result when people are reluctant to engage in direct, productive debate.
  • Another tool for increasing conflict is something I refer to as real-time permission. When a leader sees her people engaging in disagreement during a meeting, even over something relatively innocuous, she should do something that may seem counterintuitive but is remarkably helpful: interrupt. That’s right. Just as people are beginning to challenge one another, she should stop them for a moment to remind them that what they are doing is good.
  • What it will do is give people the permission they need to overcome their guilt—and they’ll definitely be fighting off feelings of guilt—and continue to engage in healthy but uncomfortable conflict without unnecessary and distracting tension.
  • It’s important to remember that the reluctance to engage in conflict is not always a problem of conflict per se. In many cases, and perhaps in most of them, the real problem goes back to a lack of trust. Remember that when team members aren’t comfortable being vulnerable, they aren’t going to feel comfortable or safe engaging in conflict. If that’s the case, then no amount of training or discussion around conflict is going to bring it about. Trust must be established if real conflict is to occur.

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 19: The Leader and the Media:

  • But it really doesn’t matter which kind of leader you are—if you are a leader, the media is part of your world.
  • Never apologize for having a message and for wanting that message to receive the widest possible coverage and exposure. That is why you are leading. You are the steward of beliefs and convictions that your organization represents and to which you have committed your life. Your organization exists to serve the mission defined by those beliefs, and you have been charged to lead. So lead, and never apologize for leading.
  • Here is one of the keys to all communication: People simply tune out the things that don’t interest them.
  • If you send out a press release, it had better be interesting. Don’t expect an assignment editor to waste time on the boring or the ordinary.
  • If you want to get your message out through an op-ed column on the editorial pages, you had better have a good, clear point to make about an issue of very current concern, and your column had better be written well.
  • The best way to learn what kinds of news items make their way into print and what kind of columns get printed on the opinion pages is to read those same papers and magazines regularly, carefully, and strategically. There is no substitute for familiarity.
  • On the radio waves, you have one central asset—your voice.
  • You have a message, and you cannot ignore television. In terms of impact, nothing yet exceeds the nationally broadcast networks and cable news channels.
  • If you want to get your message out on these platforms, learn to face a camera with confidence, learn to immediately lead with something interesting, learn to answer the interviewer’s questions, and learn how to be warm and unflappable on the outside, even when you are frustrated and agitated on the inside. The camera reads emotions more quickly than the microphone carries words.
  • Leaders need to determine in advance what to do when a reporter calls, because you never know when one will.
  1. First, be honest.
  2. Second, be direct.
  3. Third, realize that you can say no.
  4. Fourth, respect the reporter or program host.
  5. Fifth, realize that reporters do not control the final form of a printed news story, and that radio and television reporters are also subject to editing.
  6. Sixth, realize that some media appearances don’t go as you expect, and some don’t even go.
  7. Seventh, know that everyone at every stage in this process operates out of his or her own worldview.
  8. Eighth, building on what was just stated, know that explaining what you believe is the very mission that brought you to this position of leadership.


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Movie Review ~ Love and Mercy

Love & MercyLove and Mercy, rated PG-13
***

This film is based on the life of Brian Wilson, the genius behind the Beach Boys. It is in many ways a difficult film to watch as it portrays the hard life that Wilson has lived, enduring his abusive father Murry (played by Bill Camp) who was actually fired as manager of the band, mental illness, drug abuse and a difficult relationship with cousin and fellow band member Mike Love (played by Jake Abel), which continues to this day.

The film, directed by Bill Pohlad, focuses on two specific periods in Wilson’s life, switching back and forth throughout the film. In the mid-1960’s Wilson is a tormented soul, the victim of his father’s abuse (we see him play an early version of his classic “God Only Knows”, for his father, who dismisses it), and decides to stop touring with the band to focus on writing songs and working in the studio. We see his creativity in taking the music that he hears in his head and taking it to develop the songs that would eventually become the band’s 1966 masterpiece Pet Sounds. Paul Dano, who is made to look like a young Wilson, superbly portrays this young Wilson, who we see begin to use LSD on the way to a mental breakdown. Yet even after the success of “Good Vibrations”, the largest selling Beach Boys single, Wilson still craves his father’s affirmation. I believe Dano’s performance is worthy of a Best Actor Oscar nomination.

In the mid-1980’s we see a heavily medicated Wilson played by John Cusack (no effort is made to make him look like Wilson, which is distracting), completely under the control of the evil Dr. Eugene Landy, excellently portrayed by Paul Giamatti. Landy claims to have “saved” Wilson from a life of spending three years in his bed and weighing 300 pounds, but he now controls all aspects of his life, even serving as his legal guardian.  The film does include some adult language, including the abuse of God’s and Jesus’ names several times, especially by Dr. Landy. Followed by his handlers, Wilson goes into a Cadillac car dealer and meets Melinda Ledbetter, portrayed by Elizabeth Banks. This meeting will change his life.

The two hour film was quite slow at times, but the acting performances – Dano, Giamatti, Banks and Cusack – are superb. My favorite part of the film was watching Wilson in the studio working with musicians to create the music for Pet Sounds (which Rolling Stone magazine has named the #2 rock album of all-time, second only to the Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which was inspired by Pet Sounds), while the band was on the road touring. However, when the band returns, Love (and Wilson’s father) want him only to recreate duplicates of early Beach Boys hits (surfing, cars and girls), rather than this new music.

Incredibly, Wilson, now 72, has survived and continues to be an important artist, recording and touring (including a July 6 date with fellow Beach Boys Al Jardine and David Marks at the Ravinia Festival near Chicago). See my review of Wilson’s 2015 album, No Pier Pressure, originally intended to be a Beach Boys album, which gives us glimpses of his genius. A song from the new album – “One Kind of Love” – plays over the closing credits after a video of him playing “Love and Mercy” in concert.