Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

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Halftime: Moving from Success to Significance by Bob Buford. Zondervan. 224 pages. 2011 Edition.
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This book was recently recommended to a friend of mine by a leader we both respected who has recently retired. Being at the same stage of life as my friend, I decided to read the book as well. This is an updated and revised edition of the author’s best-selling book. It includes new stories, questions and answers, and a new chapter on doing “Halftime” if you can’t quit your job.
Using the analogy of a sports game (think football or basketball), the author tells us that the first half of our lives (usually our first 40 years or so), is when we focus most on our careers and less on others and significant causes. It is the time for following our dreams, chasing and acquiring success. It is also the season to develop our faith and learn more from the Bible about how to approach life. It is here that we learn, gain and earn.
“Halftime” is when you take stock of what you have accomplished thus far in your life and look for ways to move from success to significance. It’s a chance to dig more deeply into what you believe and evaluate whether your life is heading in a direction aligned with your beliefs.
The second half is the time when you can truly make a significant contribution to the world. The author states that the biggest mistake most of us make in the first half of our lives is not taking enough time for the things that are really important.  The second half is the season for us to use our gifts in service to others.
Throughout the book the author tells his personal story. His father died when he was in the fifth grade. His mother went on to found a successful radio and then later television company, which she would later turn over to him. His mother died in a hotel fire when the author was only 31. Later, the author would lose his only son at 24 years old in a drowning accident.
At just 34 years of age, the author developed 6 life goals. He was very successful, but what came after success? He realized that it was time to take stock, to stop and listen to the Voice.
He was challenged by a friend to determine what was in his “box”, what was his “one thing”. What would he do with what he believed? He needed to move from success to significance with Jesus at his center. He tells us that the key to your second half, which he believes can be better than your first, is a change of heart.
He suggests developing a personal mission statement as you seek to regain control of your life in your second half.
He writes of the importance of life-long learning in your second half. We should never stop learning. He also addresses money issues. He writes that the second half is not about money, but about mission.
He writes that getting from your first half to your second half isn’t easy, nor are the lines between the two halves clear. It is on ongoing journey about living a fulfilling life and leaving a valued legacy.
He tells us that “Halftime” is the opposite of retirement. Once you have your “what”, you can start working on your “how”.
The author’s passion is to multiply all that God has given him, and in the process to give it back. What is your passion? What is in your “box”? What is your “one thing”?
This helpful book ends with appendices on the wisdom of Peter Drucker, who was a large influence on the author and questions and answers with the author.

God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Book of Proverbs by Timothy Keller and Kathy Keller. 2017 Viking. 395 pages.
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Tim and Kathy Keller follow The Songs of Jesus, their excellent devotional book on the Psalms, which I read throughout 2016, with their new God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life on the Proverbs.  The authors start out by reflecting on the differences between Psalms and Proverbs. They write that Proverbs calls us to study, to think, to learn the practical discipline of centering all our thoughts and actions on God. Proverbs is about how as believers we should live our faith out. They look at Proverbs as poetry, puzzle and pedagogy.
The authors tell us that Proverbs was written to be read and discussed with others, in particular older, wiser mentors. They suggest that readers use the devotional with a group of friends, and give helpful suggestions on a routine to follow:

  • Choose one of more friends to read the devotional, each reading the same reflection individually on the same day.
  • At the end of each reflection there is a question that helps you think more personally about how the teaching applies to your life. Write the answer to the question in a journal.
  • Write answers to two additional questions about the day’s proverb(s) in the journal, unless your response to the first question has already included them. As an example, where in your life or the life of someone else have you seen this observation illustrated? How can you put this observation into practice—in thought, attitude, word, or deed?
  • After completing your journal entry, pray the prayer at the end of each page. These short prayers are just “on ramps”—suggested ways to begin talking to God personally about what he is teaching you in his Word. You might want to put the prayer in your own words, and then continue speaking to him about how the particular Scriptural teaching should play out in your life.
  • Then meet with your friends who are doing the same daily exercise as often as you can. Share your best insights, discuss them together, encourage one another to apply the insights to your lives, and report to one another on how your efforts are going.

The book is arranged as follows. The first weeks of the year examine the general teaching on the subject of wisdom in the first nine chapters of Proverbs. After that, the daily readings are grouped into sets of topics, enabling the reader to accumulate the various insights on a specific theme, piecing together the wisdom that the book offers on the subject.
For example, the reading for November 12 addresses leadership. The authors tell us that the most powerful kind of leader is one who uses his or her authority ultimately to serve the ones being led. The greatest leaders are the greatest servants. A probing question is “Thinking of the best leaders you have known, how have evident love and a servant heart been important to their effectiveness?”
The November 13 reading looks at what leaders do, specifically vision. They tell us that the best leaders are those who can paint a compelling picture of the future. A probing question is “Have you seen a leader cast a vision or paint a picture of the future in a compelling way? How was it done?”
This new devotional will be part of my daily reading for the next year.

  • How Trump is Remaking Evangelicalism. Emma Green writes “Still Evangelical? a new book from InterVarsity Press which captures the way a certain segment of Christian leaders are thinking about this moment of evangelical identity crisis. All of the writers hold prominent positions in the worlds of ministry, seminaries, and religious advocacy, but none are household names outside of the Christian world.”
  • 11 Classics Every Christian Should Read. Nicholas Davis writes “Of course, nothing is more classic than the Bible. Aside from the Holy Bible, however, there are certain books that all Christians who have access to books should read. The following list of books is not comprehensive but should give you a head start on some great literature that will encourage you in the Christian life.”
  • 8 Upcoming Books That I’m Excited About. Some of these books have now been published.
  • What I’m Currently Reading. Here is what I’m currently reading and listening to? What about you?

BOOK CLUB – Won’t you read along with us?

 The Prayer That Turns the World Upside Down: The Lord’s Prayer as a Manifesto for Revolution by Albert Mohler. 224 pages. 2018

In this new book, step by step, phrase by phrase, Dr. Albert Mohler explains what the words in The Lord’s Prayer mean and how we are to pray them.
This week we look at Chapter 3: Hallowing the Father’s Name

  • Every word we utter in prayer, every idea and concept that we form as we pray, and every emotion that flows out of our heart is a reflection of what we believe about God and about the gospel of Christ.
  • As we approach Jesus’ teachings on prayer, we should ask ourselves: How do Jesus’ words correct any bad prayer habits I have developed? How is Jesus challenging my prayer life and inviting me to enter into a more God-glorifying pattern of prayer?
  • Jesus is making a tremendously powerful theological point by beginning his prayer with the word “our”. Jesus is reminding us that when we enter into a relationship with God, we enter into a relationship with his people.
  • Do you notice what is stunningly absent? There is no first-person singular pronoun in the entire prayer!
  • One of our greatest problems and deficiencies in prayer is that we begin with our own concerns and our own petitions without regard for our brothers and sisters.
  • God is properly Father only to those who know him through the Son. Only by virtue of Jesus’ work on the cross can we truly say, “Our Father in heaven.”
  • Our knowledge of God’s transcendence should shape our prayers by reminding us that prayer is a humble and reverent enterprise.
  • God prescribes the vocabulary we ought to use when addressing him.
  • Jesus is not merely saying that God’s name is hallowed; rather, he is asking God to make his name hallowed.
  • Jesus’ first request is not that his personal needs be met, but that God’s glory and holiness be known and loved as it deserves. What a remarkably God-centered prayer.
  • If we do not truly know the God to whom we speak, our prayers will remain impotent, facile, and devoid of life.
  • If we come to know and love the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we will be motivated to pray and to pray as Jesus taught us.

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Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence ~ married to my best friend for more than 38 years and a St. Louis Cardinals fan. Before retiring I served as a manager at a Fortune 50 company; I'm a graduate of Covenant Theological Seminary and in leadership at my local church. I enjoy speaking about calling, vocation and work. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people develop to their fullest potential and to utilize their strengths more fully. I am an INTJ on Myers-Briggs, 3 on the Enneagram, my top five Strengthsfinders themes are: Belief, Responsibility, Learner, Harmony and Achiever, and my two StandOut strengths roles are Creator and Equalizer. My favorite book is the Bible, with Romans my favorite book and 2 Corinthians 5:21 my favorite verse. Some of my other favorite books are Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper, The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul, The Prodigal Son (originally titled A Tale of Two Sons) by John MacArthur and Crazy Love by Francis Chan. I enjoy Christian hip-hop/rap music, with Lecrae, Trip Lee and Andy Mineo being some of favorite artists.

One thought on “BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

  1. The gem of knowledge about the prayer is really inspiring. Thanks sharing.

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