Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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THIS & THAT: A Weekly Roundup of Favorite Articles and Quotes

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  • More interesting article links
  • Favorite Quotes of the Week

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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

  • Carry Sunday’s Belief’s Into Monday’s Workplace. Terence Chatmon writes “God intends you to use your business experience to honor and glorify Him.”
  • Called to Lead. My book Called to Lead: Living and Leading for Jesus in the Workplace is available in both a paperback and Kindle edition. Read a free sample (Introduction through Chapter 2).
  • 3 Ways the Local Church Can Honor Caregiving as a Vocation. Rachel Anderson writes “Remember that when the sun sets on many other jobs, the work of caregiving begins.”
  • Holiday Reflections on God’s Presence at Work. Russ Gehrlein writes “In my career journey over the past four decades, there have been a few major theological ideas that have helped me to experience God’s presence and to integrate my faith at work.  Several of these concepts are especially applicable during this holiday season.  Perhaps they may become a source of inspiration for others as well.”
  • Seasons of Longing: Advent and God at Work. Charlie Self writes “God is the first worker (Gen 1-2; Ps 33) and he models actions and attitudes worthy of our aspirations. Practically, we can live out these principles as we pray for others, model good teamwork, and encourage all around us.”
  • God of Business. Peter S. Heslam writes “This pandemic proves how much we all need business.”
  • Martin Luther on Faith and Work: 8 Abiding Lessons. Daryl Charles writes “Luther reminds us that our vocation is to be a part ofthe world rather than being apart from

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

  • More links to interesting articles
  • The Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week
  • My Review of About My Father’s Business: Taking Your Faith to Work by Regi Campbell
  • Snippets from Os Guinness’ book “The Call: Finding and Fulfilling God’s Purpose For Your Life”

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It’s Christmas!

Artwork Is Copyright Blue Chair Blessing

  • The Real Meaning of Christmas. Stephen Nichols writes “Yet, this child was the Son of God incarnate. He was Immanuel, which translated means “God with us.” According to the Apostle Paul’s account, this infant created all things. This infant created His own manger. And this infant, this King, brings peace on earth, ultimate and permanent peace.”
  • The Magnificat. “The people of God may be weak, but He is not. In this brief video clip, R.C. Sproul draws encouragement from Mary’s Magnificat, showing how this song of praise extols the power of God to establish His kingdom and overcome all His enemies.”
  • Free Audiobook from Alistair Begg. The December free audiobook download from Christianaudio is a good one – Christmas Playlist: Four Songs That Bring You to the Heart of Christmas by Alistair Begg. Download your copy here.
  • 3 Reasons Jesus is Our Only Hope. Paul Tripp writes “The Advent story is a hope story because it chronicles the coming to earth of the One who is hope, Jesus.”
  • The Child of Prophesy. John MacArthur writes “The prophetic message of Christmas is the good news of God’s answer to all the confusion, chaos, complexities, and conflicts of life. It is the gift of the newborn infant who is also the Father of all eternity. He is an innocent child, yet He is a wise Counselor and mighty King. He is God with us. Immanuel.”
  • Spurgeon Broke with His Puritan Heroes on Celebrating Christmas. Ray Rhodes Jr. shares quotes from Charles Spurgeon’s December 23, 1860 sermon from Job 1:4-5 titled, “A Merry Christmas.”
  • Christmas Music from the Gettys. Keith and Kristyn Getty have released Irish Christmas Festival. “This collection of songs reflects the full spectrum of response we can have to Christmas, all inspired by the Celtic sounds and folk traditions of Keith and Kristyn Getty’s native Northern Ireland. From the yearning of a dark and broken world to be made new to the unstoppable foot-tapping joy that breaks into our lives with the Savior’s birth, these songs help us remember why Christmas matters. Hear the call to “come let us adore him,” be stirred by the classic Irish folk melodies, and join in the song of the ages: Christ the Savior is born.” Listen to it here.
  • Songs of Hope: A TGC Advent Concert. Watch the Songs of Hope: A Gospel Coalition Advent Concert featuring artists Sandra McCracken, Keith and Kristyn Getty, Shane and Shane and many more.


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My 2020 Favorites

As has been my practice for several years, I want to share with you my favorites for 2020 in a variety of categories. (Here is my list from 2019). Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s list will look very different from past years, as concerts and conferences have been cancelled and movie theatres have been closed.

Except for books, and the film A Hidden Life (a 2019 film that wasn’t available for me to see until 2020), these are all items that were released in 2020. For books, I include my favorite books that I read during 2020, regardless of when the book was published.

Enjoy, and please let me know what you think of my list, as well as what would be on your list.

Movies

Top Pick: A Hidden Life (read my review here).

Other films I enjoyed, in no particular order, were:

      • Hamilton
      • Just Mercy
      • 1917

Music: Albums

Top Pick: Patient Kingdom – Sandra McCracken (read my review here)

Here are the rest of my Top 10 albums of 2020:

  1. The Life of Christ Quintology – Keith and Kristyn Getty (and friends)
  2. Rough and Rowdy Ways – Bob Dylan
  3. McCartney III – Paul McCartney
  4. Restoration – Lecrae
  5. Out of Body – NEEDTOBREATHE
  6. Chris Tomlin and Friends – Chris Tomlin
  7. Live from the Forum MMXVIII – Eagles
  8. Blues with Friends – Dion
  9. Let There Be Wonder – Matt Redman

Other albums I enjoyed, in no particular order, were:

  • American Standard – James Taylor
  • Christ Be All EP – Grace Worship
  • The Lost Demos EP – TobyMac
  • Evensong – Hymns and Lullabies at The Close of Day – Keith and Kristyn Getty
  • Letter to You – Bruce Springsteen
  • A Drummer Boy Christmas – for King & Country
  • Vintage – Shane and Shane

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My Testimony: How God Drew Me to Himself


I mentioned briefly in my eulogy for my Dad, which I delivered at his funeral on September 5, how God had surprisingly changed my life. I was recently inspired to share my full testimony after reading my friend Russ Gehrlein’s testimony.
I was raised in a Roman Catholic home. My Mom saw that we were faithful to go to church every Sunday, take religious education, and follow the sacraments. I’m a rule follower by nature. By following the rules of the church, I thought I was OK. I was doing what I was supposed to be doing. I was convinced that I was “good enough”, at least in comparison with others.
But you see, there was no change in my heart. I had a temper problem, at times a bad temper problem. I also saw no problem in going to Mass on Saturday, so that I could go out and party that night and not have to get up and go to church on Sunday morning. Also, when my future wife Tammy bought me my first Bible (a Good News Bible), I set it right next to a Playboy magazine on my nightstand, and didn’t see any problem with that. Seriously.
My parents were very involved in a Catholic program called Cursillo, and had tried to get me to attend the weekend event for several years. I really had no interest in attending at all. Years later, my Dad would tell me that I had agreed to attend several times – seven I believe – backing out each time. Finally, in the early 80’s, a few years into my marriage with Tammy, I agreed, surprising my parents, and yes, even myself! Continue reading


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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

Patient Kingdom – Sandra McCracken
****

I have to admit that I’m a late-comer to Sandra McCracken, being introduced to her music at the 2018 Gospel Coalition National Conference and the last few Getty Music Sing! Conferences. I also really enjoyed her 2019 Christmas album, one of my favorites of last year.
This new album of worship songs features 9 new songs, and a reimagined hymn, all written or co-written by McCracken. The album, which was produced by Ben Shive and Tyler Chester, was recorded during the COVID-19 pandemic, with friends collaborating and recording across four states.
Patient Kingdom is an excellent album, which I’m sure will end up high on my “Best” list for 2020.
Below are a few comments about each song:

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  • More of this review and a review of Over the Rainbow: The American Standard EP by James Taylor
  • Music News
  • Song of the Week Lyrics

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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS


Becoming Elisabeth Elliot by Ellen Vaughn. B&H Books. 322 pages. 2020

****

In this well-written authorized biography, Ellen Vaughn tells the colorful tale of how Elisabeth “Betty” Elliot came to be, through her adventures in the jungles of Ecuador. A second volume will continue with the rest of her story.
By effectively using a good amount of Elliot’s own writings from her journals and letters (a practice Elliot began when she was only eleven), the reader gets pulled into her incredible story as a missionary, translator, wife, mother and author. Even though I knew some of the facts about this part of her life, I found that I couldn’t wait to get back to the book to continue reading.
The “Foreword” is written by Joni Eareckson Tada, who considers Elliot a hero, and calls her “the most remarkable Christian woman of the last century”.  Elliot herself saw Irish missionary and writer Amy Carmichael as a hero, writing that she was her first spiritual mother, someone who taught her the shape of godliness.
Elliot, who is referred to as Betty in the majority of the book, was born December 21, 1926 in Brussels, Belgium. The author writes that she was far from perfect and made plenty of mistakes. She writes that defining her core was a healthy willingness to die, stating that she really did see dying to self, and taking up her cross to follow Jesus—at all costs—as a biblical mandate to be obeyed.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review…
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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Do You Live a Life of Contentment?


My wife Tammy and I don’t plan to move out of Illinois (though many are), and plan to stay in our home as long as we can. After reaching out to a number of firms, we settled on one to do our remodeling project. And, over a five-week period, they did a great job for us, remodeling our kitchen and bathrooms. We are extremely pleased with the work that has been done. But you know what? Now that I see the beautiful new kitchen and remodeled bathrooms, the rest of our home looks, well, like it needs some work – at least a fresh coat of paint. Is this a lack of contentment?
I can’t help it, but I always seem to see what is wrong with something. That’s just the way I’m wired. Just like in our home, in our yard, my focus will go to the tree or plant that isn’t doing well, rather than the many that look beautiful. When driving on our streets in town or the highways we travel, my eyes go to the potholes and repairs that need to be made as a result of our extreme winters. And just today, Tammy mentioned what a beautiful day it was. And I kid you not, the very next thing out of my mouth was that rain was coming and the temperatures tomorrow would be ten degrees colder. I just can’t help it. Continue reading


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THIS & THAT: A Weekly Roundup of Favorite Articles and Quotes

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  • More interesting article links
  • Favorite Quotes of the Week from Tim Keller

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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

  • Called to Lead. My book Called to Lead: Living and Leading for Jesus in the Workplace is now available in both a paperback and Kindle edition. Read a free sample (Introduction through Chapter 2).
  • Building Your Team by Showing Dignity and Respect. Russ Gehrlein writes “I have to be intentional to ensure that every member of the team is treated like family.  I have to monitor my own relationship with each one, and also the relationships that each one has with the others on the team.  We cannot accomplish our mission without them.”
  • How Do I Discern My Calling? Chad Donohoe shares a few steps to discerning God’s calling on our lives with confidence.
  • Leadership is a Maddening Paradox. Dan Doriani, who I enjoyed two classes at Covenant Seminary with, writes “Leadership is a paradox—a ruin but finally a glory, a torment but also a privilege.”
  • How Do You Know if You Are Where God Wants You to Be? Scot Bellavia writes “If we strive for a dream job for our own sake, thinking we will only be satisfied once we’ve arrived at this “final stage” of service to God, we miss out on where he has us on the way.”
  • I’m So Busy, How Can I Rest? In responding to this question, Teena Dare writes “Limits and boundaries can free you to serve without resentment from a pure and generous heart.”

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

  • More links to interesting articles
  • The Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week
  • My Review of The Way of the Shepherd by Kevin Leman and Bill Pentak
  • Snippets from Os Guinness’ book “The Call: Finding and Fulfilling God’s Purpose For Your Life”

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