Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

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Lead...for God's SakeBOOK REVIEW:
 LEAD . . . for God’s Sake! A Parable for Finding the Heart of Leadership by Todd G. Gongwer. Tyndale House Publishers. 257 pages. 2011
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The introduction of this book, written as a parable similar to Patrick Lencioni’s books, is written by Urban Meyer the coach of the National Champion Ohio State football team.

He writes: LEAD . . . for God’s Sake! was one of the most powerful books I have ever read. It gave me an instant jolt of energy and reignited a passion within me to live and lead from my true purpose in life—with relationships at the foundation of all of my pursuits.

The book centers on one of the most successful coaches in Kentucky high school basketball history, Coach Steve Rocker, who was already a legend in the state. He has a friend Grant, a CEO of a business. They have a flawed view of leadership, thinking that the only two ways to motivate people are fear and rewards. The author uses a stick figure drawing throughout the book. It initially starts with a depiction of fear and rewards.

Both of these men have their identity in their vocations, while ignoring their families. Grant’s wife has already left him and Steve’s is probably not far behind.

Steve’s team is expected to win the state championship, but they are off to a slow start. Grant’s business is also struggling. Steve uses fear to berate his team, especially the seniors on the team; however, things only get worse.

Steve eventually begins conversations with Joe Taylor, the school janitor. Joe has much wisdom and the respect of many students in the school. Joe tells the coach that things are tough right now, but there is a reason for everything, something he repeats more than once.

Joe encourages Steve to lead from the heart, rather than leading in the manner he has been doing. He also brings in his faith and God’s way of leading. Steve has no interest in religion, despite the fact that his family attends church each week.

The book takes Steve and his team throughout their season. During this time, Steve begins spending more and more time with the mysterious Joe.

This book was interesting and contained some excellent messages about life, family and leadership.

Book News

  • eveEve. Tim Challies writes “On the positive side, I think [William] Paul Young has become a markedly better writer since The Shack. On the negative side, he continues to use his writing to undermine and redefine Christian theology. By my reckoning, that’s a net loss.” He states “It is clear that he means to undermine the traditional accounts of creation and human depravity.” Sounds like this is a book to stay away from.
  • New DVD and Study Guide for The Meaning of Marriage. In The Meaning of Marriage—a six-session video-based Bible study based on their excellent book —Timothy Keller, along with Kathy, his wife of forty years, draws a profound portrait of marriage from the pages of Scripture that neither idealizes nor rejects the institution but points us back to the relationship between God and man. The result is a vision for marriage that is refreshingly frank and unsentimental, yet hopeful and beautiful. This six-session video Bible study is for anyone from singles to couples considering marriage to those who have been married recently or for a long time.
  • Some Thoughts on the Reading of Books. An article by Albert Mohler on books? Well, you knew I would be all over this. Enjoy.
  • Review of Happiness by Randy Alcorn. David Murray writes that “For its positive effect on my own soul, for its capacity to radically transform Christians’ lives, and for its potential to improve the church’s evangelistic message, Happiness is my 2015 book of the year, and I pray God will make it the most-read and happiest “encyclopedia” ever published.”
  • Accidental Saints. Tim Challies reviews the book Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People by Nadia Bolz-Weber, founding pastor of a Lutheran congregation in Denver called House for All Sinners and Saints. He writes “This is yet another in a long line of books meant to appeal to those who want to bear the name of Christ but without becoming like Christ”.

Studies in the Sermon on the Mount BOOK CLUB – Won’t you read along with us?

Studies in the Sermon on the MountStudies in the Sermon on the Mount by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

This book made a significant impact on my wife Tammy when she read and discussed it with friends thirty years ago. When I picked up my diploma the day after graduation ceremonies from Covenant Seminary last year I was given a copy of this book. After enjoying Lloyd-Jones book Spiritual Depression (and the sermons the book was taken from), I couldn’t wait to read this book, which is the printed form of sermons preached for the most part on successive Sunday mornings at Westminster Chapel in London. This week we look at

Chapter 8: The Tests of Spiritual Appetite

  • This Beatitude is of exceptional value because it provides us with a perfect test which we can apply to ourselves, a test not only of our condition at any given time, but also of our whole position. It operates in two main ways. It is a very wonderful test of our doctrine, and also a very thorough-going, practical test of where, exactly, we stand.
  • This one Beatitude deals with what I would describe as the two commonest objections to the Christian doctrine of salvation.
  • But surely,’ they say, `salvation cannot be as easy as that.’ That is the first statement. Then, when one points out to them that it must be like that because of the character of the righteousness about which the text speaks, they begin to object and to say that that is making it much too difficult, indeed so difficult as to make it impossible.
  • Those who have really understood what righteousness means never object to the fact that the gospel `makes it too easy’; they realize that apart from it they would be left entirely without hope, utterly lost.
  • To object to the gospel because it `makes things too easy’, or to object to it because it makes things too difficult, is just virtually to confess that we are not Christians at all. The Christian is one who admits that the statements and the demands of the gospel are impossible, but thanks God that the gospel does the impossible for us and gives us salvation as a free gift.
  • Are we enjoying our Christian life and experience? Do we know that our sins are forgiven? Are we rejoicing in that fact, or are we still trying to make ourselves Christian, trying somehow to make ourselves righteous? Is it all a vain effort? Are we enjoying peace with God? Do we rejoice in the Lord always? Those are the tests that we must apply. If we are not enjoying these things, the only explanation of that fact is that we are not truly hungering and thirsting after righteousness. For if we do hunger and thirst we shall be filled.
  • The question that now remains is obviously this: How can we tell whether we are hungering and thirsting after righteousness?
  • I suggest the way to discover the answer is to study the Scriptures, as, for example, Hebrews xi, because there we have some great and glorious examples of people who did hunger and thirst after righteousness and were filled.
  • Then you can supplement scriptural biography by reading about some of the great saints who have adorned the Church of Christ.
  • We come to the conclusion that there are certain tests which we can apply to ourselves to discover whether we are hungering and thirsting after righteousness or not.
  • The first test is this: Do we see through all our own false righteousness?
  • We are not hungering and thirsting after righteousness as long as we are holding with any sense of self-satisfaction to anything that is in us, or to anything that we have ever done.
  • It also means that we have a deep awareness of our need of deliverance and our need of a Savior; that we see how desperate we are, and realize that unless a Savior and salvation are provided, we really are entirely without hope.
  • If we want to die like the righteous we must also want to live like the righteous. These two things go together.
  • The person who is truly hungering and thirsting after righteousness obviously avoids everything that is opposed to such a righteousness.
  • ‘I suggest that if we are truly hungering and thirsting after righteousness we shall not only avoid things that we know to be bad and harmful, we shall even avoid things that tend to dull or take the edge off our spiritual appetites. There are so many things like that, things that are quite harmless in themselves and which arc perfectly legitimate. Yet if you find that you are spending much of your time with them, and that you desire the things of God less, you must avoid them.
  • To hunger and thirst after righteousness means we shall remind ourselves of this righteousness actively. We shall so discipline our lives as to keep it constantly before us.
  • I am suggesting that unless we day by day voluntarily and deliberately remind ourselves of this righteousness which we need, we are not very likely to be hungering and thirsting after it.
  • The man who is hungering and thirsting after righteousness always puts himself in the way of getting it.
  • The man who hungers and thirsts after righteousness is the man who never misses an opportunity of being in those certain places where people seem to find this righteousness.
  • Then, reading the Bible. Here is the great textbook on this matter.
  • Study and read this Book. Try to understand it; read books about it.
  • And then, prayer. It is God alone who can give us this gift. Do we ask Him for it? How much time do we spend in His presence?
  • And then, as I have already said, there is the need for reading the biographies of the saints and all the literature you can lay your hands on about these things.
  • To hunger and thirst after righteousness is to do all that and, having done it, to realize that it is not enough, that it will never produce it.
  • These are the ways in which we prove whether we are hungering and thirsting after this righteousness or not. Is it the greatest desire of our life? Is it the deepest longing of our being? Can I say quite honestly and truly that I desire above everything else in this world truly to know God and to be like the Lord Jesus Christ, to be rid of self in every shape and form, and to live only, always and entirely to His glory and to His honor?
  • Anybody who dies in this world without being clothed with the righteousness of Jesus Christ goes on to utter hopelessness and wretchedness. That is the teaching of the Bible; that is what the Bible says.
  • That is a great reason for hungering and thirsting after righteousness-the hatefulness of sin.
  • But lastly I put it in a positive form. If only we knew something of the glory and the wonder of this new life of righteousness, we should desire nothing else.

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Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence. I’m married to my best friend. I’m a St. Louis Cardinals fan, a manager at a Fortune 100 company, a graduate of Covenant Theological Seminary, and in leadership at my local church. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people determine their callings, develop to their fullest potential and to utilize their strengths more fully. My favorite book is the Bible, and some other favorite books are Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper, The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul and Crazy Love by Francis Chan.

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