Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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

  • 5 Dangers of Money. Paul Tripp writes “Money matters, but God’s grace matters even more. It alone provides both the strength and the freedom we will continue to need until the dangers of money are no more.”
  • What Does It Mean to Abide in Christ? Sinclair Ferguson writes “In a nutshell, abiding in Christ means allowing His Word to fill our minds, direct our wills, and transform our affections. In other words, our relationship to Christ is intimately connected to what we do with our Bibles!”
  • God Invites You to Delight Yourself in Him. Randy Alcorn writes “To delight in God is to be happy with Him and in Him. To do that, we must cultivate our relationship with Him just as we do with other people by spending time with Him, bowing our knee before Him as our Lord, and also spending time with Him as our friend. That’s how we get to know Him, by learning and meditating daily on what’s true about Him.”
  • What’s the Purpose of the Spiritual Gifts? In this two-minute video, Michael Horton provides a helpful perspective on the spiritual gifts. When we understand the gifts and their purpose, we can more easily understand how God has uniquely gifted each one of us.
  • Distinguishing Marks of a Quarrelsome Person. Here’s a helpful (and convicting) article from Kevin DeYoung.
  • How Do We Become Spiritually Mature? John MacArthur writes “We know that sanctification is a divine work through the Word by the Spirit of truth. So, we must plead with the Spirit that He would mold and shape us into the image of Christ, through the truth, from one level of glory to the next.”

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

  • More interesting article links
  • Doug Michael’s cartoon
  • Favorite Quotes of the Week

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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

  • The Church of Chicken. I often say that there is no organizational culture that I respect more than Chick Fil-A. Here’s a long, but excellent, article about the organization.
  • Where is God When I Have Been Fired? Russell Gehrlein writes “I have been reading William Morris’ book Where is God at Work? since last August.  His fresh perspective aligns so well with mine, showing the many ways in which God is present in various challenging situations at work.
  • A Timely New Book on Faith and Work—20 Years in the Making. Craig Sanders reviews Dan Doriani’s new book Work: It’s Purpose, Dignity and Transformation, the best book on work from a Christian perspective that I have read. He writes “Doriani’s years of research and reflection on this important topic sets this text apart from other recent books on the theology of work. His smooth exposition of complex economic and theological themes blended with stories from experience and interviews combine for an eminently readable product. I’d recommend this book to pastors so they can learn about connecting faith and work for their congregations, and the discussion questions in each chapter make this a great resource for small-group studies as well.”

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
 More links to interesting articles
 The Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week
 My Review of “The Soul of a Team” by Tony Dungy with Nathan Whitaker
 Snippets from Os Guinness’ book “The Call: Finding and Fulfilling God’s Purpose For Your Life”
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My Review of THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON

The Peanut Butter Falcon, rated PG-13
***

The Peanut Butter Falcon is a well-acted and heartwarming film, though it is somewhat marred by adult language. The film is co-directed and co-written by Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz.
Zac, played by Zack Gottsagen, is 22 years old and has Down Syndrome. He lives in a retirement home since his family abandoned him. He has never had any friends, and would like friends that he could call family. Zac repeatedly watches old wrestling videos from Salt Water Redneck, played by Oscar nominee Thomas Haden Church (Sideways), and wants to attend the wrestler’s school advertised in the video. As a result, Zac repeatedly tries to escape forcing Eleanor, a compassionate worker who works at the facility, played by Dakota Johnson (Fifty Shades of Gray), to label him as a flight risk. Continue reading


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Reflections from the 2019 Sing! Getty Worship Conference


Recently, my wife Tammy and I attended the 2019 Sing! Getty Worship Conference, held in Nashville. This is a conference without parallel, as pastor John MacArthur stated. The Sing! Conference is a part of Keith and Kristyn Getty’s five-year initiative; a learning journey to help pastors, musicians and leaders build a Biblical understanding and creative vision for congregational singing in their churches. This article has some of the take-aways from the conference that we found helpful and enlightening, and thought you would too.  Tammy and I also attended the 2018 Sing! Conference. You can read my reflections from that conference here. Continue reading


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God’s Faithfulness

In late September our annual extended family vacation took us to Maine. My wife Tammy and I have been taking these vacations with one or both of her sister’s families for nearly our entire married life. These days, some of the nieces and nephews who were not even around for that first vacation to Turkey Creek Ranch in Theodosia, Missouri, are now married and have children.   The little boy in the photo is now 38, and we’re returning again to T-Creek this year, meeting up with 6 children under the age of 4.
The temperatures were cool as we landed at our first of two locations/homes in Maine, this one being in the small town of Northport. Our house overlooked beautiful Penobscot Bay. By walking on a narrow path (we were warned to avoid the poison ivy and deer ticks off the path), we could get to a wonderful place to watch the bay, including the ferry, sailboats and loons.
As I sat there looking out over the bay in those first days of our vacation, I was reminded of God’s faithfulness that we often take for granted. Each day the sun comes up in the morning and goes down in the evening. In fact, later in our vacation, some of our group went to the top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park to be among the first in North America to see the sunrise. Continue reading


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Are We Too Preoccupied to Love Christ?


Think back to when you were first in love. You were completely devoted to that person. As you sat across the table from them you looked into their eyes hanging on every word they said. You laughed at every joke they told, whether it was funny or not. You touched their hand, and enjoyed the smell of their perfume or cologne. You wanted to know everything about them and to be fully known by them. Then, your smartphone buzzed. You quickly checked it to make sure it’s not an emergency. Then you think, maybe I better check what other calls and texts I’ve missed. All of a sudden, you’re no longer fully present. You’ve been pulled away from the person that you love and who is right in front of you to address what may be causing the buzzing on your phone.
When I was in seminary along with working 50+ hours a week, I was really stretched for time. After work, my wife and I would meet for a quick dinner before I would begin studying, but she could often tell my mind wasn’t on her. Even though I was sitting right in front of her, more than once she would tell me that I might be listening to her, but she knew I was thinking about all I had to do that evening.   Definitely preoccupied.
Isn’t this how our relationship with God becomes at times? When he first drew us to him we couldn’t get enough of him or his word. We just wanted to be in his presence, to learn all that we could about him and be known by him. Continue reading


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My Review of BLINDED BY THE LIGHT

Blinded by the Light, rated PG-13
***

Blinded by the Light is an entertaining, emotional and heartwarming drama/comedy/musical, inspired by the life of British journalist Sarfraz Manzoor and his love of Bruce Springsteen’s music. It is based on Manzoor’s book Greetings from Bury Park: Race, Religion and Rock N’ Roll. Manzoor, who has seen Springsteen in concert more than 150 times, co-wrote the script with director Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham), and Paul Mayeda Berges (Bend It Like Beckham). The film’s title is from a Springsteen song that was included on his 1973 debut Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J., which Manfred Mann’s Earth Band took to number one in the U.S. in 1977.
The film is set in the town of Luton, north of London in 1987. Manzoor’s character in the film is Javed, well-played by Viveik Kalra. Javed is a 16-year-old Muslim whose parents came from Pakistan. We see Javed and his family experiencing racism. Luton is facing a tough economy and job losses. Javed spends his day writing in his diary – poetry, and lyrics for his best friend’s band – and wants a career as a writer, and to get out of Luton and away from his strict and controlling father Malik, played by Kulvinder Ghir (Bend It Like Beckham). Javed’s father works at an auto plant, before losing his job, and wants Javed to focus on his studies and to be a lawyer or accountant. He tells him to stay away from girls because he will find Javed a wife when the time comes.
Things change for Javed when his classmate Roops, a Sikh from Pakistan, played by Aaron Phagura, gives him two Bruce Springsteen cassettes (Darkness on the Edge of Town and Born in the U.S.A.) and tells him to guard them with his life.  He tells him that he can thank him later. We can see the light come on for Javed at listening to his first Springsteen songs, “Dancing in the Dark” and “The Promised Land”, perhaps ourselves remembering the first time we heard a song from “The Boss”. The latter song comes up several times throughout the film.  Springsteen’s lyrics, which are creatively projected visually, give Javed the inspiration he needs to follow his dreams. Soon, Javed even begins to dress like Springsteen.
Kalra is excellent as Javed, and the film also features a solid supporting cast. Eliza, played by Nell Williams, is Javed’s likeable politically active love interest. Golden Globe nominee Hayley Atwell (The Pillars of the Earth, Captain America), plays Ms. Clay, Javed’s junior college creative writing teacher and mentor who encourages him to follow his dream as a writer. Screen Actor Guild nominee Deen Charles Chapman (Game of Thrones), plays Javed’s best friend Matt, a member of a punk rock band. Javed’s mother Noor, is a hard-working seamstress, played by Meera Ganatra.
The film does a good job capturing hairstyles and clothing from the late 1980’s. Seventeen Springsteen songs are included in the film, including the previously unreleased “I’ll Stand By You Always”, which plays over the ending credits. Some of the songs are played out in entertaining big dance numbers, Bollywood style.
Unfortunately, the film goes out of its way to connect racism with Margaret Thatcher, not unlike Spike Lee when he tried to connect David Duke with President Trump in BlacKkKlansman.
Themes in the film include following your dreams, hard work, a tense father/son relationship, politics, and racism. Content concerns include a small amount of adult language and racist violence.
Blinded by the Light is an entertaining film that has both serious and light-hearted moments, and is based on the story of a British journalist who was inspired to follow his dreams as a writer after hearing the lyrics of Bruce Springsteen. I enjoyed the film which had an excellent message at the end, but was marred by trying to connect the racism against the Pakistanis with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.