Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

Hymns in the Round – Shane and Shane
****

The latest project from the duo Shane and Shane is an album of ten hymns and worship songs from acoustic studio sessions held in Dallas in November, 2019. Most (eight of ten) songs included here were also included on their 2019 Hymns Vol. 2 album. The difference here is that the songs are performed “unplugged”.

Below are a few comments about each song:

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
§  More of this review and a review of The Lost Demos by TobyMac
§  Music News
§  Song of the Week Lyrics- Forever Jesus by Stuart Townend with Keith and Kristyn Getty Continue reading


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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS


Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success by Phil Jackson. Penguin Books. 386 pages. 2013
****

I read this book when it was first published in 2013, and decided to read it again as I watched ESPN’s excellent documentary on Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, The Last Dance. I read the book this time specifically to examine Jackson’s leadership, as he describes the eleven NBA Championships (rings) he won as the Head Coach of the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers.
Jackson has been incredibly successful in professional basketball, winning two NBA Championships as a player with the New York Knicks, six as the Head Coach of the Chicago Bulls and five as the Head Coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. The book includes some biographical information and takes us through his career as a player, coach and as the book ends, his at that time new role as the President of the New York Knicks, the one role in his career that he was not successful in. He played his college basketball at the University of North Dakota, where he was coached by future NBA Head Coaches Bill Fitch and Jimmy Rodgers. In a bit of trivia, way back in March, 1967, Jackson and North Dakota played in the NCAA College Division Midwest Regional Tournament at Horton Field House, hosted by Illinois State University, just down the street from where I live in my hometown of Normal, Illinois.
Jackson was raised by parents who were both pastors, but he describes his childhood as a time when he was “force-fed religious dogma by my parents” who were both Pentecostal ministers. As an adult, he began to search for spiritual practices that might work for him. In the book, he refers to his “deep-seated aversion to organized religion”. He speaks extensively in the book about Zen Buddhism, quoting teachers, and discussing aspects of Zen have been critical to him as a leader.
Regarding his leadership, Jackson points to the book Tribal Leadership, by Dave Logan, John King, and Halee Fischer-Wright, which lays out five stages of tribal development, which they formulated after conducting extensive research on small to midsize organizations. In order to shift a culture from one stage to the next, Jackson tells us that you need to find the levers that are appropriate for that particular stage in the group’s development. Throughout the book, Jackson refers to his various teams and the tribal development stages they were in at the time.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review and a review of Final Word: Why We Need the Bible by John MacArthur
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur
I’M CURRENTLY READING…. Continue reading


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CURIOSITY: THE ANTIDOTE TO CYNICISM

Pastor and author Carey Nieuwhof tells us that his book Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the Seven Greatest Challenges That No One Expects and Everyone Experiences (see my review here) is for people who want to see the signs that there’s a major life challenge ahead before it’s too late. The signs he looks at exist for all of us, no matter what stage of life’s journey we might be on. He tells us that none of these signs – cynicism, compromise, disconnection, irrelevance, pride, burnout, emptiness— need to be our final story, but we can see them coming. He tells us that if we regularly do what we were created to do, the likelihood of growing cynical, disconnected, proud, or irrelevant diminishes.

I found his chapter on cynicism particularly interesting. To start, let’s define what is meant by cynicism. Nieuwhof states that cynicism is simply the general distrust of others or a lack of hope in people or their desires. At its worst, it becomes jaded negativity, skepticism, contempt or scorn.

I’ve never really considered myself to be a cynical person. What about you, do you consider yourself cynical? Take a few minutes to take Nieuwhof’s Cynicism Quiz to see how cynical you are. Continue reading


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Servant Leadership: Leading Like Jesus, Part 3

In the first part of our three-part series, we looked at my takeaways from the book Lead Like Jesus: Lessons from the Greatest Leadership Role Model of All Time by Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges. In part two, we looked at my takeaways from a few other books on servant leadership that I would commend to you, and in this third part, I’ll look at my takeaways from a few more books. Continue reading


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Servant Leadership: Leading Like Jesus, Part 2

In the first part of our series, we looked at my servant leadership takeaways from the book Lead Like Jesus: Lessons from the Greatest Leadership Role Model of All Time by Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges. Now I want to look at my takeaways from three books on servant leadership that I would commend to you. Continue reading


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My Review of THE LAST FULL MEASURE

The Last Full Measure, rated R
***

This film is inspired (some of the characters and plotline are fictionalized), by the true story of a Vietnam War hero, and the years long quest to get him the prestigious Congressional Medal of Honor decoration for his actions, which saved as many as sixty lives, during what was known as “Operation Abilene”. The film, rated “R” for war violence and adult language, and featuring an all-star cast, was written and directed by Emmy winner Todd Robinson (The Legend of Billy the Kid). The film’s title is taken from Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, where Lincoln talks about those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, “from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here, gave the last full measure of devotion.”
William Pitsenbarger, known as “Pits”, is played by Jeremy Irvine (War Horse). “Pits” was a U.S. Air Force pararescue medic. He flew more than 250 rescue missions during the Vietnam War. On April 11, 1966, his day off, he volunteered to board one of two Kaman HH-43F Huskie helicopters dispatched to extract a half-dozen or so wounded soldiers pinned down in a firefight near Cam My, a rural area of Vietnam located 35 miles east of Saigon. When his helicopter arrived over the battle during “Operation Abilene”, he was lowered through the trees to treat the men injured during the brutal attack on the ground. But rather than returning to the helicopter to leave the scene, he chose to stay, and was subsequently killed in the battle. Continue reading


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

  • More Precious Than Praise and Possessions. Praise and possessions — those are two dominant idols of our age. The desire for self-glory and the desire for material wealth. So, what is the Christian’s relationship to the praise of the world and to the possessions of the world? John Piper explained in a helpful sermon on Mark 8: 31-38 at the 2019 Gospel Coalition National Conference in Indianapolis. Listen to the sermon on this episode of the Ask Pastor John podcast.
  • Broken to Comfort the Broken: How Quadriplegia Prepared Me to Carry Others. Joni Eareckson Tada writes “Whether you’ve struggled through a broken ankle, home, or neck, you may not sit on the sidelines, resting on the comfort God once imparted when you were at your lowest. You have received God’s consolations, and as such, more is expected of you. Your next go-round with affliction will be God’s tap on your shoulder to find those who are hurting more than you, so that you can enable them to deal with their Help make them brave.”
  • Before Your Suffering Comes: Five Rocks to Put Beneath Your Feet. In this lengthy article, John Piper writes “My aim has been to encourage you in your calling to help people suffer with faith in Christ, by the power of the Spirit, for the glory of God. My main point has been that there are at least five foundation stones that we can put under the feet of our people before the wave of suffering breaks over their heads.”

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

    • More interesting article links
    • Cartoon of the Week
    • Favorite Quotes of the Week

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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

  • Help! I’m Irritated with My Work-From-Home Husband. Amy Dimarcangelo answers a question from a wife who is feeling envy over how meaningful and interesting her now working from home husband’s work is compared to hers.
  • Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good. Amy Sherman writes “Churches need to do better at teaching their members about ‘vocational stewardship’ – seeing their jobs also as God’s provision, and deploying their talents through their work in ways that express love of neighbor.”
  • Reflections on the Pandemic’s Impact on Work. Our friend Russell Gehrlein reflects on some of the challenges that we face together in our work situations in response to this pandemic, reminds us of the kinds of valuable coworkers God provides to meet our human needs, and offers some hope grounded in a biblical perspective.
  • Resources for Work Disruption Related to COVID-19. The Global Faith & Work Initiative provides these helpful resources for those whose work has been disrupted due to the global pandemic.
  • Faith in a Time of High Anxiety. Hugh Whelchel writes “We believe that we are in control, the masters of our own destiny. Then, an event like this comes along, and as a society, we must confess we have no control over our current circumstances. At best, we can only control our reactions to the situation in which we find ourselves.”

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

  • More links to interesting articles
  • The Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week
  • My Review of “Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones for Success” by John Maxwell
  • Snippets from Os Guinness’ book “The Call: Finding and Fulfilling God’s Purpose For Your Life”

Continue reading


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The Most Difficult Conversation I Ever Had at Work

As a leader, I had to have many difficult conversations in my career. But as I reflect back, there was one conversation that took place several years ago that stood out above the rest as the most difficult.

In the organization I worked at, we would regularly have conversations about analysts who had the potential and interest to move into a leadership position. If everyone agreed, these analysts would be placed on a “promotability list”. This list would have multiple levels.  Being placed in the top category indicated that they were ready to take on a leadership position.
One of my team members was in that top category when our leadership team had their regular conversation about our area’s candidates. At that time, there was very little movement of analysts into leadership. As a result, there was new criteria applied to those on the list. As a result, my team member was not approved to stay on the list. They were not going to be moved back a level on the list, but taken off the list completely, which was very unusual. As their leader, I would have to communicate this news to them. But I was going to be out of the office on a previously scheduled vacation before our meeting. Needless to say, I thought about our meeting a lot during my vacation. Continue reading


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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS


Resurrection – Sing! The Life of Christ Quintology – Keith and Kristyn Getty and Friends
****

Sing! The Life of Christ: Quintology is the fourth album to be released from Keith and Kristyn Getty’s Sing! worship music conferences, following 2018’s Sing! Live at The Getty Music Worship Conference and 2019’s Sing! Psalms: Ancient + Modern (Live At The Getty Music Worship Conference) and Sing! An Irish Christmas – Live At The Grand Ole Opry House.
The new album is being released in five separate EPs over a period of several months. The project will follow the five main themes of the 2019 Sing! conference – Incarnation, Passion, Resurrection, Commission, and Ascension of Jesus Christ, and include 30 songs. To find out more about my takeaways from the 2019 conference, held in Nashville, read my article “Reflections From the 2019 Sing! Getty Worship Conference here.
The album was recorded at the Gaylord Hotel Convention Center, the Grand Ole Opry House and the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. Everything that the Gettys and their musical friends do is with excellence. Throughout, the songwriting, singing and musical performances are of a very high quality, especially noteworthy for a live recording.
The third EP to be released is on the Resurrection. Below are a few comments about each song:

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

  • More of this review and a review of Christ Be All EP by Grace Worship
  • Music News
  • Song of the Week Lyrics

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