Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown. Hazelden Publishing. 156 pages. 2010

This self-help book by Brené Brown, a research professor, is outside of my normal genre of reading. It was highly recommended by a few family members, so my wife Tammy and I decided to read and discuss the book.
The book is comprised of ten short chapters, each one covering a “Guide Post” toward living a wholehearted life. Each chapter ends with a “DIG Deep” section, including suggestions on how to “Get Deliberate”, “Get Inspired” and “Get Going”.
Brown writes that wholehearted living is not a onetime choice. It is a process, and she believes that it’s the journey of a lifetime. Cultivating a wholehearted life is not like trying to reach a destination. Brown writes that it is like walking toward a star in the sky. We never really arrive, but we certainly know that we’re heading in the right direction. She tells us that at the heart of wholeheartedness is worthy now. We are worthy of love and belonging now. Courage, compassion, and connection are the tools that we need to work our way through our journey.
The book covers a wide variety of subjects, such as vulnerability, belonging, shame, fear, courage, authenticity, perfectionism, resilience, spirituality, gratitude, creativity, play, work and laughter. Although the book is not written from a specifically Christian perspective, there is much to consider and ponder in the book. Being a perfectionist, that particular section was eye-opening for me.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review…
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ Providence by John Piper

Below are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

  • Every time we choose courage, we make everyone around us a little better and the world a little braver.
  • Setting boundaries and holding people accountable is a lot more work than shaming and blaming. But it’s also much more effective.
  • Shame is that warm feeling that washes over us, making us feel small, flawed, and never good enough.
  • The less we talk about shame, the more control it has over our lives.
  • Shame is basically the fear of being unlovable—it’s the total opposite of owning our story and feeling worthy.
  • Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.
  • Shame resilience is the ability to recognize shame, to move through it constructively while maintaining worthiness and authenticity, and to ultimately develop more courage, compassion, and connection as a result of our experience.
  • The difference between shame and guilt is best understood as the differences between “I am bad” and “I did something bad.” Shame is about who we are, and guilt is about our behaviors.
  • Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.
  • Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment, and shame.
  • Perfectionism is, at its core, about trying to earn approval and acceptance.
  • Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it’s often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction, and life-paralysis.
  • Practicing spirituality brings perspective, meaning, and purpose to our lives.
  • Creativity, which is the expression of our originality, helps us stay mindful that what we bring to the world is completely original and cannot be compared.
  • If we want to live a wholehearted life, we have to become intentional about cultivating sleep and play, and about letting go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth.
  • We all have gifts and talents. When we cultivate those gifts and share them with the world, we create a sense of meaning and purpose in our lives.

  • Reading the Psalms with Jesus in View. On this episode of the Crossway Podcast, Dane Ortlund discusses how the psalms uniquely invite us into prayer and devotion, how they reflect the greatness of God, and how he cares for his people.
  • For the Sunset of Summer: A Summer Reading List for 2021. Albert Mohler writes “In this annual list I share some of my favorites of the season. It’s a bit later this summer, but I have been working in time for fishing and reading and, with my wife Mary, having the time of our lives with grandkid camp. So, better late than never, I hope. There is still plenty of summer left for worthy reading.”
  • 20 Quotes from Garrett Kell on Sexual Purity. Matt Smethurst shares these 20 quotes from Garrell Kell’s helpful new book, Pure in Heart: Sexual Sin and the Promises of God.
  • Study, Savor and Share Scripture: Becoming What We Behold. My wife Tammy recently published a book about HOW to study the Bible. The book is available on Amazon in both a Kindle and paperback edition. She writes “Maybe you’ve read the Bible but want to dig deeper and know God and know yourself better. Throughout the book I use the analogy of making a quilt to show how the Bible is telling one big story about what God is doing in the world through Christ. Quilting takes much patience and precision, just like studying the Bible, but the end result is well worth it.”
  • White Fragility. Tim Challies reviews Robin DiAngelo’s book White Fragility. He writes “Is White Fragilitya helpful resource for Christians? To that question I give a resounding no. This is a bad book and one that is unlikely to serve Christians as we consider issues related to race, racism, and racial reconciliation.”

BOOK CLUB – Won’t you read along with us?

Providence by John Piper

The providence of God is his purposeful sovereignty by which he will be completely successful in the achievement of his ultimate goal for the universe. God’s providence carries his plans into action, guides all things toward his ultimate goal, and leads to the final consummation.
John Piper draws on a lifetime of theological reflection, biblical study, and practical ministry to lead readers on a stunning tour of the sightings of God’s providence—from Genesis to Revelation—to discover the all-encompassing reality of God’s purposeful sovereignty over all of creation and all of history.
Exploring the goal, nature, and extent of God’s purposes for the world, Piper offers an invitation to know the God who holds all things in his hands yet remains intimately involved in the lives of his people.
You can download the PDF of the book free from Desiring God.
Watch this six-minute video as John Piper talks about the book, and this interview with Dr. Joe Rigney of Bethlehem College & Seminary.
This week we look at Chapter 13: The Entrance of Sin into Creation and the Glory of the Gospel. Here are a few takeaways from the chapter:

  • If God planned the suffering of his Son before creation, and thus before the sin of Adam and Eve, as we saw in Revelation 13:8 and 2 Timothy 1:9, then he foresaw the coming of sin and planned to permit it to enter the world.
  • If God had wise and just and good purposes in permitting the fall of Adam and Eve, we may speak of God’s plan in permitting it. That is, we may speak of God planning or ordaining the fall in this sense.
  • God plans and ordains that some things come to pass that he hates.
  • God’s ultimate aim in creation and providence is to display the glory of his grace, especially in the suffering of Christ, echoing forever in the all-satisfying praises of the redeemed. That is the ultimate wise, just, and good purpose of God in planning to permit the fall.
  • The gospel brings about a new people who rejoice in the glory of Christ as their greatest treasure and who reflect the glory of Christ as their new identity. Christ is glorified by his glory being enjoyed and being echoed.
  • The clearer and fuller our sight of Christ’s glory, the more we will be transformed into its likeness.
  • God’s ultimate aim in the sufferings of Christ was to exalt the glory of his own righteousness in the very act of saving sinners who will spend eternity praising the glory of God’s grace.
  • The providence of God in sending his Son as a suffering substitute for sinners accomplishes everything necessary to bring his people into his presence with everlasting, soul-satisfying praises of the glory of his grace. God gets the glory of praise. We get the pleasure of praising. The glory of God’s grace and the gladness of our souls are consummated together in this eternal praise.

Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence – married to my best friend Tammy, a graduate of Covenant Seminary, St. Louis Cardinals fan, formerly a manager at a Fortune 50 organization, and in leadership at my local church. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people develop, and to use their strengths to their fullest potential. I am an INTJ on Myers-Briggs, 3 on the Enneagram, my top five Strengthsfinder themes are: Belief, Responsibility, Learner, Harmony, and Achiever, and my two StandOut strength roles are Creator and Equalizer. My favorite book is the Bible, with Romans my favorite book of the Bible, and Colossians 3:23 and 2 Corinthians 5:21 being my favorite verses. Some of my other favorite books are The Holiness of God and Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul, and Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. I enjoy music in a variety of genres, including modern hymns, Christian hip-hop and classic rock. My book Called to Lead: Living and Leading for Jesus in the Workplace and Tammy’s book Study, Savor and Share Scripture: Becoming What We Behold are available in paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon.

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