Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

  • Faith-Work Integration: Trendy or Essential? Mark Roberts writes “Doing our ordinary work in the Lord’s name is an essential, though often overlooked, element of our calling. So, whatever you do—whether managing staff, selling products, leading organizations, changing diapers, teaching children, building start-ups, preaching sermons, making films, writing books, molding clay, or cleaning houses—do everything, yes, everything, in the name of the Lord Jesus.”
  • Work: Curse, Blessing, or…? Ross West writes “Work, then, is our divine assignment to develop our world on God’s behalf. Furthermore, work is the means by which we carry out that assignment.”
  • When Work Stinks. Greg Forster writes “We walk — we work — by faith, not by sight. We trust that God is at work in our work, even if we don’t necessarily see or understand what he’s doing. We trust that God is at work in the world around us, even in the midst of darkness and evil. The triumph of God’s holy love is our hope; it is our hope for eternity, and our hope for today.”
  • The Dignity of Every Kind of Work. Scott Sauls writes “Every kind of work that creates something new or enhances something broken or lacking is glorious because of how it intersects with God’s ongoing, creative mission in the world.”
  • In All things: 6 principles to Help Guide Your Work. Bill Wells writes “Whether paid or unpaid, for profit, or nonprofit, God doesn’t care as much about what we do as he does about how we do it.”
  • Eight Leaders Talk about Faith and Work. Bill Peel writes “The Center for Faith & Work at LeTourneau University and Jim and Martha Brangenburg of iWork4Him joined up to record eight interviews with some friends who are serious about following Christ in their work and all of life.”

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

  • More interesting article links
  • The Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week
  • My Review of The Gospel at Work: How the Gospel Gives New Purpose and Meaning to Our Jobs (Updated and Expanded Edition) by Sebastian Traeger and Greg D. Gilbert
  • Snippets from the book ‘The Economics of Neighborly Love’

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THIS & THAT: A Weekly Roundup of Favorite Articles, Cartoons & Quotes

  • Should Christian Parents Ever Give Kids a Smartphone? In this discussion, Russell Moore, Scott Sauls and Trevin Wax talk about how they’ve made their own parenting decisions about technology.
  • What Do You Feed Your Eyes? Marshall Segal writes “As you walk through the wonderland of God’s creation, watch your eyes carefully. These thrills are whispers of Wonder, mere shadows of Light. They’re meant to make us more in awe of Christ, and to prepare us to spend eternity looking to him.”
  • What’s the Point of My Life? In this episode of the “Ask Pastor John” podcast, John Piper addresses the questions “What is the overarching concept for my life, my reason for existence, and relationship with God?” 
  • Can Your Soul Really Survive Social Media? Russell Moore writes “I’m not arguing that we all should delete our social media accounts. I am wondering, though, if you should spend some time asking whether your social media account is leading you places you can’t handle. Are you given over more to anger or anxiety or envy or pack thinking? Then maybe it’s time to step back, or even to leave for a while.”

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My Review of THE RIDER

The Rider, rated R
***

New on home video and streaming services, The Rider is a well-acted film based on real events, that has some content concerns. The film is written and directed by Chloé Zhao. The film is somewhat like Clint Eastwood’s The 15:17 to Paris, in that it used real-life characters, rather than actors. As a result, the film can at times come across as a documentary, rather than a drama.
We first meet Brady Blackburn, played by Brady Jandreau, as he is pulling staples out of his head with a knife at home. Brady had checked himself out of the hospital against doctor’s wishes. He was being treated for a bad head injury from the rodeo, which resulted in Brady going into a three-day coma. The near-fatal injury left him with a metal plate in his head.
Brady had been a star bronco rider in the rodeo on a South Dakota reservation. His friends are supportive, wondering when he is going to get back to the rodeo. Brady lives with his father Wayne, (his mother has died) played by Tim Jandreau and teenage sister Lisa, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, played well by Lilly Jandreau.

***SPOILER ALERT***
Brady and his father have a contentious relationship. Wayne drinks and gambles so much that he has to sell Brady’s favorite horse just to keep their trailer. The bond between Brady and Lilly is tender, funny and genuine.
Several times we see Brady visit Lane, played by Lane Scott. Lane was a bull rider and Brady’s mentor and idol. But then Lane was badly injured in the rodeo. Now he is paralyzed and can’t speak, communicating with Brady by spelling out words with his hands. The scenes between the two are some of the most touching you will see in a film.
We see Brady vomit a few times, and the doctors tell him that his riding days are finished. Occasionally, we see his right hand seize up, the result of partial complex seizures, making him unable to let go of whatever he’s holding on to. His hand seizing served as a metaphor for Brady not being able to let go of the rodeo life that might kill him.
As he is healing, he takes a job as a stocker/clerk at a grocery store. Eventually though, Brady begins training horses again, something that he has a special gift with. We see him training a wild horse that has never been ridden in an incredible scene that led my wife to wonder if this actor had actually trained horses before.  (We didn’t know when we watched the film that the real people played themselves and weren’t actors).
Eventually, Brady has to decide what to do with his life. Another blow to his head could be fatal. If he can’t ride horses, what will he do?
*********************

The film includes some wonderful scenes on the Pine Ridge Reservation and South Dakota’s Badlands (sky, horses, landscape) courtesy of cinematographer James Joshua Richards.
Content issues include a significant amount of language, including an abuse of both God’s and Jesus’ names. Themes include identity, family, friends and loss of dreams. Surprisingly, there were at least three times people prayed in the film.
The film was slow moving and emotionally draining. I kept waiting for something positive to happen in the film. It wasn’t until after the film that I read that the film felt so real because, well, it was. Brady Jandreau is a real-life rodeo rider that had a serious head injury like the character he played. His father and sister in the film are played by real-life family members. Lane Scott was not acting either. He too had suffered a serious real-life riding injury, which left him paralyzed and unable to talk. Director Zhao used people from the Pine Ridge Reservation as actors.
The Rider will most be appreciated for a few scenes (Brady training the wild horse and Brady’s visits with Lane).


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50 Great Quotes on Leadership from John Wooden

Wooden on Leadership: How to Create a Winning Organization by John Wooden and Steve Jamison. McGraw-Hill Education. 321 pages. 2005.
****

I’ve long respected John Wooden for the values he brought to leadership as one of the greatest coaches of all time. For example, over a twelve-year period at UCLA, Wooden won an incredible ten NCAA national basketball championships, including a record seven in a row.  I’ve rarely highlighted as many passages in a book as I did with this one.

The book is divided into three main sections:
Part 1: The Foundation for My Leadership. In this section he covers the 15 fundamental values that were the blocks for his Pyramid of Success. He writes that he believed that they are prerequisites for a leader and an organization whose goal is to perform at the highest level of which they are capable.

Part 2: Lessons in Leadership. This is the section that I most appreciated and where I highlighted a large number of leadership quotes. After each teaching by Wooden there would be a helpful “Suggestions to Lead By” and an “On Wooden” section by some of Wooden’s former players and coaches.

Part 3: Lessons from My Notebook. This section was my least favorite of the book, having the least application for general (non-basketball) leadership. What was most interesting to me was that this section included pages or excerpts of pages from notebooks he used through the years in his teaching—notes, observations, reminders, suggestions, and lists of relevant goals and how to achieve them.

As I mentioned, I highlighted a large number of passages as I read the book. I’ve eliminated many of them to get down to 50 of my favorite quotes from the book:

  • I believe that’s what leadership is all about: helping others to achieve their own greatness by helping the organization to succeed.
  • I believe leadership itself is largely learned.
  • Whatever coaching and leadership skills I possess were learned through listening, observation, study, and then trial and error along the way.
  • It’s the quality of your effort that counts most and offers the greatest and most long-lasting satisfaction.
  • The joy is in the journey of pushing yourself to the outward limits of your ability and teaching your organization to do the same.
  • Effort is the ultimate measure of your success.
  • I do not judge success based on championships; rather, I judge it on how close we came to realizing our potential.
  • Reputation is what others perceive you as being, and their opinion may be right or wrong. Character, however, is what you really are, and nobody truly knows that but you. But you are what matters most.
  • A strong leader accepts blame and gives the credit. A weak leader gives blame and accepts the credit.
  • Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to stay there.
  • Practice moderation and balance in all that you do.
  • The best leaders understand that to successfully compete at any level requires continuous learning and improvement.
  • The best leaders are lifelong learners; they take measures to create organizations that foster and inspire learning throughout.
  • The most effective leaders are those who realize it’s what you learn after you know it all that counts most.
  • Character—doing the right thing—is fundamental to successful leadership
  • For me, a good explanation of character is simple: respect for yourself, respect for others, respect for the game, whether it’s basketball, business, or anything else.
  • A leader with character attracts talent with the same.
  • Who you are inside—what you believe—is important, but what you do means more, much more. Actions trump words, and your values must be visible if they are to have an impact on those you lead or hope to attract as part of your team.
  • Character counts and values matter. And you, the leader, set the standard for both in your organization.
  • For me, leadership is a sacred trust.
  • I believe you must have love in your heart for the people under your leadership. I did.
  • For a good leader, the team is nothing less than extended family.
  • Team members wouldn’t be treated the same or alike; rather, each one would receive the treatment they earned and deserved.
  • I believe effective leaders are, first and foremost, good teachers.
  • Your own personal example is one of the most powerful leadership tools you possess. Put it to good use: Be what you want your team to become.
  • A leader who is through learning is through.
  • A leader who is ruled by emotions, whose temperament is mercurial, produces a team whose trademark is the roller coaster—ups and downs in performance; unpredictability and un-dependability in effort and concentration; one day good, the next day bad.
  • Sharing credit is a surefire way of improving the performance results for any organization.
  • Little things, done well, make big things happen for you and your organization.
  • A casual approach to executing the details of a job ensures that the job will be done poorly.
  • I fully understood that the success of my leadership was directly linked to using time wisely.
  • I came to the conclusion that when choosing between the carrot and the stick as a motivational tool, the well-chosen carrot was almost always more powerful and longer lasting than the stick.
  • Each member of your team has a potential for personal greatness; the leader’s job is to help them achieve it.
  • I believe that personal greatness is measured against one’s own potential, not against that of someone else on the team or elsewhere.
  • Personal greatness for any leader is measured by effectiveness in bringing out the greatness of those you lead.
  • Don’t worry about being better than someone else, but never cease trying to be the best you can become.
  • Are you holding your team back with misconceived notions and false limitations? Identify and then eliminate them. Seek solutions rather than excuses.
  • I believe one of the requirements of good leadership is the ability to listen—really listen—to those in your organization.
  • I believe that you must have people around you willing to ask questions and express opinions, people who seek improvement for the organization rather than merely gaining favor with the boss.
  • Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.
  • The most productive leaders are usually those who are consistently willing to listen and learn.
  • Success is more often attained by asking “how?” than by saying “no.”
  • Contentment with past accomplishments or acceptance of the status quo can derail an organization quickly.
  • Assume improvement is always possible and force yourself—and others—to find out how.
  • New ideas and perspective from those under your leadership are essential for achieving and maintaining a competitive edge.
  • If your word is nothing, you’re not much better.
  • A leader whose promise means something is trusted. Trust counts for everything in leadership.
  • Things turn out best for those who make the best of the way things turn out.
  • A good leader never stops learning. A great leader never stops teaching.
  • Past achievements for any leader or organization will occur again in the future only with equal, or greater, effort.


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My Review of ALPHA

Alpha, rated PG-13
***

Alpha is a mostly family-friendly adventure film about a boy and his…. wolf. The film, which takes place 20,000 years ago in the last Ice Age, is directed by Albert Hughes (The Book of Eli). The screenplay is written by Daniele Sebastian Wiedenhaupt, and is based on a story by Hughes. The film, which had a budget of $51 million, has its dialogue in an unknown language, and is completely sub-titled, so it is recommended for kids old enough to read and up.
The tribe is led by Tau, played by Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson. Each year, a dangerous Great Hunt journey must be made before winter sets in to get food (bison) for the tribe. Tau’s hope is that his sensitive son Keda, played by Kodi Smit-McPhee (X-Men: Apocalypse; Dawn of the Planet of the Apes), will one day take over leadership of the tribe. This will be Keda’s first Great Hunt, but there’s a problem: Keda doesn’t like to kill animals.

***SPOILER ALERT***
The film opens with a scene in which the tribe attacks a herd of bison. During the attack, Keda is flung over the edge of a cliff, eventually falling onto a small ledge far below. With no way to get down to his son, who he assumes is dead, Tau must leave his son and head back on the long journey home before winter sets in.
But Keda did not die, though his foot is badly injured. He somehow is able to get off the ledge to safety, but then is pursued by a pack of vicious wolves. He is able to injure one of them, the alpha wolf. Eventually the other wolves leave both Keda and the injured wolf behind.
Keda, again hesitant to kill, eventually decides to nurse the injured wolf back to health. Very slowly, we see Keda and the wolf, who he names Alpha, begin to trust each other and build a friendship. But will Keda be able to make the long journey back home to his family, especially with the brutal winter conditions coming soon?
**********************

The movie, which was filmed near East Coulee, Alberta, Canada and at Dinosaur Provincial Park near Patricia Alberta, is visually stunning, thanks to cinematographer Martin Gschlacht. We see beautiful blue water, the stars of the sky, desert sand and blizzard-like conditions.
Content concerns include some spirituality, primarily around ancestor worship, and some violence that could be frightening for young children. Themes include family, sacrifice, danger, death, survival, love and courage.
Alpha is a well-made film that older children and adults will enjoy.


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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS


The Narrative – Sho Baraka
****

Three years in the making, Sho Baraka returns with his fourth album. The fourteen songs address themes of race, faith and love. Each title has an accompanying year that symbolizes something important. It is an important album that is musically diverse and creative, and lyrically relevant. Below are a few comments on each song:
Foreward, 1619 – The opening track was written by the Beatbreaker (who also produced it), Adam Bean and Baraka. It features C Lacy and Bean. 1619 was the start of American slavery, which is addressed in Adam Bean’s verse. From 1619 and beyond, here he stands. He is a man. Baraka asks whether he should he pray or riot. He states that we are all desperate and broken.
Don’t close the book, I got more to write
You can change the story, that is my advice
I read in color, they see black and white
You just saw the cover, but there’s more to life

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
§  More of this review
§  Review of The Narrative Vol. 2: Pianos & Politics by Sho Baraka
§  Music News
§  Music Quotes
§  Song of the Week Lyrics

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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

Book Reviews
Moses and the Burning Bush by R.C. Sproul. Reformation Trust Publishing. 96 pages. 2018
**** 

This short book by the late Dr. R.C. Sproul is based on one of his last teaching series of the same title. He writes that the burning bush has been a significant symbol throughout the history of the church, and for good reason. The account of the burning bush is a story about the holiness of God. He tells us that God Himself appeared, through the manifestation of His Presence in the bush and that what Moses experienced at the burning bush is what God’s people experience today: a holy, transcendent, all-consuming God who comes down to dwell with His people. He knows us.
This book considers the significance of the burning bush event, looking at Moses’ life leading up to that encounter and focusing on the knowledge of God that is revealed in that particular incident. In this book Dr. Sproul looks to answer the question of why the bush was burning and yet not being consumed.
Moses was the mediator of the old covenant. That office made Moses one of the most important people in the entire Old Testament. As a mediator, he stood between God and the people of Israel. Moses foreshadowed the greater Mediator who would come later—the Mediator of the new covenant, Christ Himself.
The author tells us that there are occasions in redemptive history where the invisible God makes Himself visible by some kind of manifestation. That is called a theophany, and it’s what we see with the burning bush. What Moses saw in this fire was a supernatural, visible manifestation of the glory of God. He had a momentary encounter with the Holy, and the closer he got, the more afraid he became.
The author tells us that he believes that the greatest weakness in our day is the virtual eclipse of the character of God, even within our churches.
The first thing that God reveals about Himself in that name is that He is personal.
The author addresses such topics as God’s self-existence, His transcendence and His aseity. Self-existence means that He depends on nothing and no one for His existence. Only God has the concept of self-existence. The author tells us that if God is self-existent, eternal, and pure, then He is, by definition, transcendent. When we consider the transcendence and aseity of our God, we will respond in worship and awe—just as Moses did at the burning bush.
The author tells us that the second most important act of redemption ever accomplished in history, and the second most difficult mission ever given by God to a human being, was the mission God gave to Moses.
The author tells us that in the burning bush we see the revelation of the person of God, of the power of God, and of the eternality of God. We see the revelation of the compassion of God, the redemption of God, and now, finally, the truth of God.
The author was known for his teaching on the holiness of God. This book is another wonderful look at that attribute of God.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
BOOK REVIEW ~ The Prayer of the Lord by R.C. Sproul
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB   ~ How the Nations Rage: Rethinking Faith and Politics in a Divided Age by Jonathan Leeman
I’M CURRENTLY READING….

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