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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