Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

book reviews

The Blessing of HumilityThe Blessing of Humility: Walk within Your Calling by Jerry Bridges. NavPress. 144 pages. 2016
****

This is the final book written by Jerry Bridges, who died on March 6 at the age of 86. His books have meant a great deal to me over the years, from The Pursuit of Holiness to this final volume.

Bridges writes that the real value of this book (on the Beatitudes taught by Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount), comes as you read each chapter reflectively and prayerfully. He suggests that we ask God to help us see ourselves as we really are in the light of each of the character traits covered in the eight Beatitudes. Then, ask God to help us grow in the areas where we see ourselves to be most needy. The character traits in the Beatitudes, which constitute the major portion of this book, are all expressions of what Bridges calls “humility in action.”

Bridges writes that the character trait of humility is the second-most frequently taught trait in the New Testament, second only to love, and that all other character traits, in one way or another, are built upon love and humility.  He looks at the Beatitudes as expressions of Christian character that are a description of humility in action.  He states that all Christians are meant to display these characteristics, and that a life of humility is not an option for a believer to choose or reject. It is a command of God.  He tells us that if we want to apply the Bible’s teaching to our daily lives, we cannot ignore the call to live our ordinary lives in a spirit of humility.

In the eight short chapters of the book, Bridges looks at how humility expresses itself in the different circumstances and people we encounter as we live out our daily lives in a broken and sin-cursed world. The Beatitudes offer a portrait of humility in action, something which God commands and which God promises to bless. He states that it is impossible to truly walk in humility without to some degree appropriating the truth of the gospel every day, which he refers to as “preaching the gospel to ourselves every day”.

The book includes a helpful Discussion Guide, with questions developed by Bob Bevington.  This would be a wonderful book to read and discuss with others in a book club setting.

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THIS & THAT and Favorite Quotes of the Week

this.n.that-small

NOW THAT’S A GOOD QUESTION!questions

  •  Why are Women More Anxious Then Men? David Murray writes “Here are some further reasons why I think women have twice as much anxiety than men.” He also shares some I recommend books for dealing with anxiety and links to about sixty online articles he’s collected over the years on this subject.
  • One of the Greatest Questions We Can Ever Ask. Derek Thomas writes “How is it possible for a just God to justify a sinner? That is one of the greatest questions we can ever ask.”
  • What is Self-Discipline? Steven Lawson writes “If we are to exercise self-control, we must relinquish the control of our lives to Jesus Christ. Here is a paradox of the Christian life: We must give up the control of self if we would gain self-control. May God enable us to exercise self-discipline, an absolute necessity for victory over sin.”
  • Do You Think About Your Death? Francis Chan writes “Whenever I see a dead body, I inevitably think, That will be me soon. Then all sorts of uncomfortable thoughts follow.”
  • Christian, Do You Love God’s Law? Sinclair Ferguson writes “When Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15), He was only echoing the words of His Father. Actually, it is simple, yet all-demanding.”
  • Greater Threat to the Church: From the Outside or Inside? Collin Hanson writes “Does the greater threat to the church in the West come from the inside or the outside? How you answer determines your prescription for what ails our age. I posed this question and others to Ross Douthat, an acclaimed op-ed columnist for The New York Timesand author of the book Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics.”   
  • The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife? When Sensationalism Masquerades as Scholarship. Albert Mohler writes ““The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife?” Not hardly. This is sensationalism masquerading as scholarship. Nevertheless, do not miss what all this really represents — an effort to replace biblical Christianity with an entirely new faith.”

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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

REAL-LIFE EXAMPLES OF COMBINING YOUR FAITH AND WORK:

  • Chewbacca MomLessons on Christian Vocation from “Chewbacca Mom”. Joseph Sunde writes “For Candace Payne, a 37-year-old stay-at-home mom and worship leader, her calling and influence began long ago, starting as a teenager, and proceeding with faithfulness to God in her daily life”.
  • When You Don’t Hide Your Faith at Work. Bethany Jenkins writes “The women featured below have (at least) one thing in common—they have shared the reason for their hope (1 Pet. 3:15). Their joy, their wisdom, their kindness, and their vulnerability has been so attractive to their colleagues that their colleagues—many of whom “heard” the gospel first by watching their lives—have begun reading the Bible, attending church, and worshiping Christ.”
  • Making a Living Is Loving a Neighbor. Bethany Jenkins writes “The women featured provide for others in their work. Whether that means advising clients on giving to missions, making the internet work, answering customers’ concerns, or planning melon production, these women see themselves as “the fingers of God,” going into their workplaces as agents of his providential love.”
  • How Our Work Embodies God’s Love. Bethany Jenkins writes “These women are working in ways that they incarnate the love of God to their neighbors.” Also read Bethany’s article “In Awe of God in Unexpected Places”
  • Faith Works at Omni Hotels – An Interview with Bob Rowling. Bill Peel interviews Bob Rowling, of Omni Hotels. Peel writes “Faith lived out at work inevitably leads to tough choices. For some it may mean risking ridicule for turning down dishonest gain. Others may forfeit promotion — or even lose a job — for drawing a line in the sand between right and wrong.”
  • 15 Practices of the World’s Most Creative People in Business. Brian Dodd shares the 15 practices of the world’s most creative leaders, based on Fast Company magazine editor Robert Safian’s 15 common threads of the magazine’s top 100 most creative people in business.
  • The Janitor Who Taught the U.S. President a Thing or Two About Work. Scott Sauls writes “Clearly we must integrate faith and work. But how do we do this? It starts with perspective.”
  • I Advocate for Convicted Criminals. Cara Wieneke is a post-conviction criminal defense attorney and, unlike a trial lawyer, she represents people after they have been found guilty and sentenced to prison. She writes “I struggled with finding God in all this—and sometimes still do. There have been days when I’ve felt as if there is nothing good in the world, only evil.”

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Book Review and Quotes from Lead Like Jesus Revisited

Lead Like Jesus RevisitedLead Like Jesus Revisited by Ken Blanchard, Phil Hodges and Phyliss Hendry. Thomas Nelson. 272 pages. 2016
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In this revised and updated 10th anniversary edition of Lead Like Jesus by Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges, Phyliss Hodges, President and CEO of the Lead Like Jesus ministry joins the original book’s authors.  They write that “Leading like Jesus is essentially a matter of the heart. It is also the highest thought of the head, it is the principal work of the hands, and it is both expressed through and replenished by the habits.” The authors teach to lead like Jesus whether you are leading at home, at church, or in an organization.

The authors state that self-promotion (pride) and self-protection (fear) dominate today’s leadership style. Many leaders act as if the sheep are there only for the benefit of the shepherd.  The Lead Like Jesus alternative approach to leadership is driven by four basic beliefs that have become central to the author’s ministry:

  1. Leadership happens anytime we influence the thinking, behavior, or development of another person.
  2. Jesus is the greatest leadership role model of all time.
  3. Servant leadership is the only approach to leadership that Jesus validates for His followers.
  4. Effective leadership begins on the inside, with our hearts.

The authors tells us that Leading like Jesus is a transformational journey. They discuss the role of the Heart, Head and Hands in this alternative way of leading. They also discuss Habits, both Being and Doing. They state that the greatest barrier to leading like Jesus is Edging God Out of our lives (EGO).

This new edition features helpful “Pause and Reflect” sections throughout the book, a “Next Steps to Leading Like Jesus Checklist”, resource list and a Discussion Guide, which is useful for individual study, but it is designed primarily for use in a group setting after everyone in the group has read the book.

I’m a strong believer in servant leadership. This would be an excellent book to read and discuss with others to learn how to Lead Like Jesus.

35 Quotes from Lead Like Jesus Revisited by Ken Blanchard, Phil Hodges and Phyllis Hendry

  1. Self-promotion (pride) and self-protection (fear) dominate today’s leadership style. Many leaders act as if the sheep are there only for the benefit of the shepherd.
  2. This alternative approach to leadership is driven by four basic beliefs that have become central to our ministry: • Leadership happens anytime we influence the thinking, behavior, or development of another person. • Jesus is the greatest leadership role model of all time. • Servant leadership is the only approach to leadership that Jesus validates for His followers. • Effective leadership begins on the inside, with our hearts.
  3. For followers of Jesus, servant leadership is not an option; servant leadership is a mandate.
  4. Leading like Jesus is a transformational journey. This transformational journey begins with the willingness to do whatever Jesus commands, with a heart surrendered to doing His will, and with the commitment to lead the way He leads.
  5. We believe that leaders who desire to lead like Jesus must first examine themselves by answering these two questions: Whose am I? and Who am I?
  6. Leading like Jesus in an organization creates a new culture that affects all relationships and every result.
  7. Wherever we live or work, whether we are influencing at home, at church, or in an organization, our paramount task as leaders is to create a culture that reflects Jesus’ core value: love. and Work, Lead Like Jesus Revisited by Ken Blanchard, Phil Hodges, Phyllis Hendry
  8. Leading like Jesus requires leaders to be shepherds and servants, who value each person as an integral part of the organization.
  9. HEART. Leadership is first a spiritual matter of the heart. Simply put, the heart question is this: Are you a serving leader or a self-serving leader?
  10. HEAD.  The journey to leading like Jesus starts in the heart as you consider your motivation. This intent then travels to the internal domain of the head, where you examine your beliefs and theories about leading and motivating people.
  11. HANDS.  You show what is in your heart and head in what you do with your hands: your motivations and beliefs about leadership affect your actions.
  12. HABITS. Your habits are those activities you do in order to stay on track with God and others.
  13. As a leader committed to leading like Jesus, you must make time to replenish your energy and refocus your perspective. Jesus did this through His five Being Habits: solitude, prayer, study of God’s Word, the application of Scripture to real life, and supportive relationships.
  14. Jesus expressed obedience to His Father and shared the Father’s love for His disciples through His Doing Habits of grace, forgiveness, encouragement, and community. As leaders desiring to lead like Jesus, we are encouraged to engage in both the Being Habits and the Doing Habits.
  15. To lead like Jesus, we have found that leadership improves when there is first a change on the inside: leadership is primarily a heart issue. We believe that if we don’t get our hearts right, we simply won’t ever lead like Jesus.
  16. Leading like Jesus—leading with love—is very difficult. It requires that you love those you influence so much that you help them move from who they are to who God wants them to be, and that process can be painful.
  17. Leading like Jesus means that relationships and results are intertwined. It means being committed to both developing others and achieving results in a way that honors God and reflects your core beliefs about whose you are and who you are.
  18. We continue to see that the most persistent barrier to leading like Jesus is a heart motivated by self-interest.
  19. The greatest barrier to leading like Jesus is Edging God Out of our lives (EGO). We believe you can Edge God Out in three ways: you can replace Him as the object of your worship; as the source of your security, self-worth, and wisdom; and as the audience for and authority over your daily work and life story.
  20. When leaders are filled with pride or fear, they react to things that happen to them. People who want to lead like Jesus, on the other hand, respond to things that happen to them.
  21. One of the greatest challenges in seeking to lead like Jesus is the intimacy with Him that this approach requires. The biggest barrier to intimacy is a fear of vulnerability—the fear of having to admit you don’t know all the answers, that you may need help, and that your abilities as a leader may be questioned..
  22. One of the key distortions affecting leader effectiveness is an EGO-driven fixation on short-term results at the expense of long-term integrity.
  23. Driven people think they own everything. Called people, on the other hand, believe everything they have is on loan to them from the Lord.
  24. Leading like Jesus means leading with humility. Humility requires knowing whose you are and who you are. Humility is realizing and emphasizing the importance of other people. It is not putting yourself down; it is lifting others up.
  25. God’s love will change you and, by extension, change your leadership. You will see leadership differently: it becomes less about power and control and more about the stewardship of the people you touch and of the work God has given you to do. You will see people differently, too: rather than seeing them as a means to accomplish the results you want, you realize that God has the same love for them that He has for you. Work becomes an act of worship and your workplace an outpost of God’s kingdom. You are no longer threatened by feedback; you no longer lead out of fear or cause others to be fearful of you.
  26. When we want to lead like Jesus, prayer becomes our first response, not our last resort.
  27. The two parts to the great leadership that Jesus exemplified: 1. The visionary role—setting the course and the destination—is the leadership aspect. 2. The implementation role—doing things the right way with a focus on serving—is the servant aspect.
  28. As a Jesus-like leader or manager, you still maintain your power, but your effectiveness soars because you are responding to the needs of your people.
  29. An effective Jesus-like leader acts as a performance coach. An essential duty of servant leaders is their ongoing investment in the lives of their followers.
  30. Servant leaders aren’t threatened by people around them who perform well, because their confidence is secure in the unconditional love of God. Being rooted in God’s love permits servant leaders to see and respond to the success of others in a different way: they celebrate it rather than fear it.
  31. If you seek to inspire and equip others to attain higher standards of performance and commitment, the best first step is modeling integrity in your own journey.
  32. Love is a core value of leadership, especially for a Jesus-like leader.
  33. As leaders, we are dispensers of grace in our families, churches, and organizations. We can extend the grace of believing that people are doing the best they can, given their level of awareness. It is up to us to make sure grace is extended; we lead in the way of grace.
  34. One test of whether we have the heart attitude required to lead like Jesus is how we respond when those we lead fail to perform according to our expectations.
  35. As leaders who desire to lead like Jesus, we are to be distributors of encouragement.


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My Review of the Movie ‘Finding Dory’

Finding DoryFinding Dory, rated PG
*** ½

This delightful film is the latest from Pixar. It is written and directed by two-time Oscar winner (for Finding Nemo and WALL-E) Andrew Stanton. It is co-directed by Angus MacLane and co-written by Victoria Strouse and Bob Peterson.  The film is set six months after the 2003 film Finding Nemo.

Dory (voiced by Ellen Degeneres), a blue tang, is joined by some characters from Finding Nemo – grumpy Marlin (Albert Brooks) son Nemo (Hayden Rolence, who replaces Alexander Gould from Finding Nemo), as well as turtle Crush and son Squirt, fish-school instructor Mr. Ray and the “Mine! Mine! Mine!” seagulls. We are also introduced to several new characters, the best of which is Hank the octopus (Ed O’Neill). I also enjoyed the vision challenged shark Destiny (Kaitlin Olson).

Dory suffers from memory loss about every ten seconds. This was something that she was born with.  She finally remembers that she had parents and was separated from them when just a child. So, with friends Nemo and Marlin she sets out on a journey across the ocean to find them.

Their journey brings her to the Marine Life Institute, a conservatory that houses diverse ocean species. The Institute was inspired by the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California, which we visited in 2010.

The film includes beautiful colors and animation, humor and several good messages about family, friendship and helping those with disabilities.   A scene of Dory being lost and alone will be scary for wee ones.

And don’t forget to wait through the credits to see some additional content.

Of special note is the animated short Piper, which is shown just before Finding Dory. The wonderful short film tells the story of a little sandpiper gaining courage against the forces of nature.


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THIS & THAT and Favorite Quotes of the Week

 

this.n.that-small                   lebron james

 IN THE NEWS:

  • LeBron James closed his eyes and began vocalizing various imprecatory Psalms Friday night during the postgame interview, appealing to God directly into the microphone, asking him to utterly destroy the Golden State Warriors and their leader, Stephen Curry. http://babylonbee.com/news/lebron-james-invokes-imprecatory-psalms-curry-warriors-postgame-interview/ From The Babylon Bee ~ Your Trusted Source For Christian News Satire.
  • The Toxic Lie of Me Before You. In discussing the new film Me Before You, based on a popular book, Samuel James writes “Moyes, the novel’s author, acknowledges that she was motivated at least in part by her sympathy for patients who desire assisted suicide. “There are no right answers. It’s a completely individual thing,” she explained. “I hope what the story does, whether it’s the book or film, is make people think twice before judging other people’s choices.”
  • Mel Gibson Planning The Passion of the Christ Braveheart screenwriter Randall Wallace says he is writing a follow-up to the biblical blockbuster that will focus on the resurrection of Jesus.
  • Can We Talk? Why I Think a Trump Presidency is Intolerable Even Though You Might Not Agree. Thabiti Anyabwile writes “This post is for that larger percentage of the Christian public that actually feels little threat from differing opinion, even benefits from it. This post is for folks who can affirm a brother as a brother while pushing back—even pushing back hard.”
Courtesy of World Magazine

Courtesy of World Magazine

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20 Helpful Quotes on the Transgender Revolution from “We Cannot Be Silent” by Albert Mohler  

New Mohler bookWith the transgender “bathroom” issue in the news so much lately, I thought it would be good to share these 20 helpful quotes from Albert Mohler’s excellent 2015 book We Cannot Be Silent: Speaking Truth to a Culture Redefining Sex, Marriage & and the Very Meaning of Right & Wrong. 

  1. The ability to “transform” gender and have “gender reassignment surgery” is so new that it was not even considered a prominent part of the gay rights movement when it emerged in the 1960s.
  2. Arguing that we should draw a clear distinction between who an individual wants to go to bed with and who an individual wants to go to bed as requires the dismantling of an entire thought structure and worldview. This is why the transgender revolution, even more than the movement for gay liberation, undermines the most basic structures of society.
  3. The transgender revolution, however, undermines any understanding of human identity based in the Christian tradition, the trajectory of Western civilization, and the worldview that has shaped today’s world.
  4. The transgender revolution represents one of the most difficult pastoral challenges this generation of Christians will face.
  5. A biblical response to the transgender revolution will require the church to develop new skills of compassion and understanding as we encounter persons, both inside and outside our congregations, who are struggling.
  6. The movement makes a sharp distinction between gender with regards to an individual’s self-understanding and an individual’s sex, which refers to the biological sex determined at birth.
  7. As with the gay liberation movement, the transgender movement looked to liberal theologians who helped further their cause.
  8. Transforming the way children think of gender is actually central to the transgender movement. Oprah Winfrey, whose television show was viewed by millions of Americans, became a major advocate for transgender issues, particularly among children.
  9. If the gay liberation movement gained its greatest traction when it succeeded in convincing many Americans that its aims were nonthreatening, the opposite may be the case for the transgender revolutionaries.
  10. The transgender revolution presents a vexing dimension to the challenge Christian churches, families, and institutions will face regarding religious liberty.
  11. The reality is that there is no end to the transgender revolution; endurance is one of its central dynamics.
  12. The Christian response to the transgender movement must begin with Scripture.
  13. What differentiates the transgender movement is the intention to change one’s gender identity from one’s biological sex.
  14. We unflinchingly hold, therefore, that to be born male is to be male and that to be born female is to be female.
  15. We affirm that biological sex is a gift of God to every individual and to the human community to which that individual belongs.
  16. We must understand that the argument that says the brain is wired differently than the body does not justify reason for sex reassignment surgery or the transgender option. Rather, it testifies to the brokenness of creation and the effects of human sin. It is an opportunity for the Christian to respond with the message of the gospel and with the recognition that every Christian is a broken individual seeking wholeness in the only place it can be found—in obedience to Scripture under the lordship of Christ.
  17. If nothing else, the transgender revolution shows Christians that the gospel confronts ideologies, patterns of deception, and spiritual opposition in every generation.
  18. The church must also respond to the transgender movement by rejecting both the reality and the morality of gender reassignment surgery.
  19. Scripture itself attests to the fact that our bodies are not accidents that happen to us, but part of God’s intention for us.
  20. The gospel provides the only true remedy for sexual brokenness. The theological and pastoral challenges we face in the transgender revolution are indeed enormous, but they are not beyond the sufficiency of Christ’s cross and resurrection.