Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

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  • More links to interesting articles
  • The Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week
  • My Review of Work and Worship: Reconnecting Our Labor and Liturgy by Matthew Kaemingk and Cory B. Willson
  • Snippets from the book Discipled Leader: Inspiration from a Fortune 500 Executive for Transforming Your Workplace by Pursuing Christ by Preston Poore

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Our Dependency on God’s Love and Grace

A reading from September 24 in Paul Tripp’s book New Morning Mercies daily devotional got my attention. Tripp writes,  “We are like babies, unable to meet our own needs and completely dependent on the love of our Father for life, sustenance, and health.”
I think that particular devotional got my attention because my wife Tammy and I have spent so much time this year with triplets (all boys) that were born to our niece and her husband back in February 2019. We generally get to spend one day a week with them. We have seen how they are completely dependent on their parents, or others, for everything they need to survive. They can’t prepare their own meals, clean their own diapers, take necessary medicine, or get a drink of water. They need help from others to do almost anything.
Tripp says that we are much the same in that we “simply don’t have much in our relationship with God and our growth in grace for which we can take credit”. He tells us that “The reality is that if we followed Jesus for a thousand years, we would need his grace as much for the next day as we did the first day that we believed.”
Here are some of the things that Tripp tells us that God provides for us, that we cannot: Continue reading

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Emmanuel: Christmas Songs of Worship – Chris Tomlin
*** ½ 

Chris Tomlin releases his fifth Christmas Songs of Worship project. His Christmas Songs of Worship series includes Miracle Of Love: Christmas Songs of Worship EP released in 2020, Christmas Day: Christmas Songs of Worship EP from 2019, 2015’s Adore: Christmas Songs of Worship, and the gold-certified Glory In The Highest: Christmas Songs of Worship from 2009. The new 12-song project, which includes four songs previously released on the above-mentioned EPs, was produced by Ed Cash and includes new songs as well as reimagined Christmas classics.  The album has Tomlin collaborating with CeCe Winans, We the Kingdom, Matt Redman, and Blessing Offor.
Below are a few comments about each song:

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  • More of this review and a review of Interrobang by Switchfoot
  • Music News
  • Song of the Week Lyrics

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Is God Really in Control? Trusting God in a World of Terrorism, Tsunamis, and Personal Tragedy by Jerry Bridges. NavPress. 160 pages. 2006
*** ½

I recently read and discussed this book with a few friends. God brought this older book by a trusted author along at just the right time, as a few of us were dealing with significant adversity in our lives.
Bridges tells us that the book is written for the average person who has not necessarily experienced major catastrophe, but who does frequently encounter the typical adversities and heartaches of life. The purpose of the book is twofold: First, he desires to glorify God by acknowledging His sovereignty and His goodness. And second, he desires to encourage God’s people by demonstrating from Scripture that God is in control of their lives, that He does indeed love them, and that He works out all the circumstances of their lives for their ultimate good.
The author tells us that in the arena of adversity, the Scriptures teach us three essential truths about God-truths we must believe if we are to trust Him in adversity. They are:

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BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review…
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ Providence by John Piper
I’M CURRENTLY READING…. Continue reading

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16 New and Upcoming Books of Interest

I love to read and enjoy books in a variety of genres, including theology, Christian living, faith and work, leadership, professional development, biography and sports. Below are 16 new and upcoming books that I’m looking forward to reading. You can also check this helpful list of upcoming books prepared by my friend Kevin Halloran.

Smart Leadership: Four Simple Choices to Scale Your Impact by Mark Miller 

I’ve read all of Mark’s books. I enjoyed being on the launch team for several of those books, including this one. Here is my review of Smart Leadership.

Further Faster Leadership: 40 Practices to Accelerate Leaders and Build Better Teams by Andy Stanley

To be released January 22.
I’ve enjoyed the Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast for years and am looking forward to this book.
Here is the Amazon description:
Further Faster Leadership distills the most important lessons Andy Stanley has learned about leadership into 40 “bottom lines,” ranging from creating a culture of continual improvement to building a compelling vision, from leading a team meeting to challenging the status quo.
If you are looking for a way to quickly level-up your leadership capacity, these 40 principles will do just that. Discussion questions, notes on application, and exercises are included for both personal and group use.
Principles cover the following topics – and more: Continue reading

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My Review of BELFAST

Belfast, rated PG-13

Belfast is a well-made film about a family living happily in a mixed (Protestant and Catholic) working class neighborhood in Belfast, Ireland during the late 1960’s. When a violent Protestant mob attempts to drive the Catholics out of the neighborhood, it threatens the family’s peaceful existence.
The film was written and directed by five-time Oscar nominee Kenneth Branagh (My Week with Marilyn, Henry V, Hamlet and Swan Song), and depicts a coming-of-age story based on his own life in Northern Ireland in the 1960s. His childhood coincided with the beginning of a violent period known as the Troubles, which lasted for decades.
The film is beautifully shot in black and white by cinematographer Haris Zambarlouskos, and features an excellent cast. The film captures the working-class neighborhood where children could once safely play in the streets. At the center of the film is family struggling financially, due in part to Pa having to pay significant back taxes, and trying to decide whether they should leave the country amidst the conflict.

At the center of the film is the likeable nine-year-old Buddy, played by Jude Hill. Buddy lives with his older brother Will, played by Lewis McAskie. We see Buddy playing in the street, watching television, going to the movies and church, and having a crush on a pretty Catholic girl in his class that he plans to marry one day. Buddy’s parents Ma and Pa are played by Caitriona Balfe (Outlander), and Jamie Dornan (Fifty Shades of Grey). Pa works in England as a carpenter, and only comes home every few weekends, while Ma raises Buddy and Will, and tries to make ends meet. Buddy’s grandparents are wonderfully played by Ciaran Hinds (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), and Oscar winner Judi Dench (Shakespeare in Love).
Hanging over the film is the big question the family is facing. Do they remain in this increasingly dangerous neighborhood where they’ve lived their entire lives, where extended family lives, where everyone knows everyone, or do they move somewhere safer, like England, Sydney or Vancouver, where nobody knows them, and start all over?
The musical soundtrack by Belfast native Van Morrison is a treat, and features several of his songs. The film does include some adult language and violence.
Belfast is a well-made film based on a true story.

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My Review of Smart Leadership by Mark Miller #SmartLeadership

Smart Leadership: Four Simple Choices to Scale Your Impact by Mark Miller. Matt Holt. 272 pages. 2022

I have read and benefitted from all of the author’s books. Packed with helpful content, this book is unlike any of the other books I’ve read by Mark Miller, who was the sixteenth employee hired by Chick fil-A, and is now Vice President of High Performance for the organization. His previous books have been written as leadership fables.
This book is organized around four Smart Choices:

  • Confront Reality
  • Grow Capacity
  • Fuel Curiosity
  • Create Change

After an introductory chapter on each choice, there are two chapters, each devoted to a best practice. These chapters are intended to help you activate your Smart Choice. At the end of each chapter is a short paragraph entitled “Be Smart!” The intent is to give the reader one or two ideas for immediate action—ways to move the choice from your head to your hands.
The author states that most leaders he knows are facing a growing list of challenges, many of them unprecedented. He lumps all of these obstacles into a metaphor: quicksand. Throughout the book, the author shares information from a wide variety of leaders who have successfully navigated these challenges. Continue reading

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Living Intentionally in 2022 

There is no doubt that the past two years have been very difficult as we have experienced the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of you have lost family members and good friends. Others, like myself, nearly lost a family member; in my case it was my brother. When you experience something like that, it makes you want to live each day intentionally. For my brother, that looks like reaching out to friends who have tested positive themselves, or the family of friends to share his experience as a way to help and encourage them. Other friends are battling cancer or facing other hardships. As we look to 2022, it would be wise for all of us to consider what we have learned through our experiences over the past two years so that we can lead more intentional lives.
The beginning of a new year is a great time for us to focus on those areas where we want to be intentional. But how do you decide what you want to focus on? Continue reading

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2021 Favorites

As I have for several years, I’m sharing some of my personal favorites in a variety of categories for the year of 2021. As with 2020, this list will look a little different from previous years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as we have been to only one concert and one conference, and we saw very few films this year.
Except for books, these are all items that were released in 2021. For books, I include my favorite books that I’ve read this year, regardless of when the book was originally published.
Enjoy, and please let me know what you think of my list, as well as what would be on your list.

Top Pick: No Time to Die. Read my review here.

The remainder of my top 5 films were:

  1. American Underdog
  2. S. Lewis: The Reluctant Convert
  3. West Side Story
  4. In the Heights

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  • More favorite Music, Books, Blogs, Podcasts, Apps, Television, Conferences and Concerts.

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My Review of American Underdog

American Underdog, rated PG
*** ½

American Underdog tells the incredible story of Kurt Warner, from backup quarterback at Northern Iowa University to the Most Valuable Player in the Super Bowl. The film is directed by Andrew Erwin and Jon Erwin (I Can Only Imagine, I Still Believe, Mom’s Night Out). The screenplay is written by David Aaron Cohen (Friday Night Lights) and Michael Silver and is based on Warner’s 2000 book All Things Possible.
The film shows how Warner, played by Zachary Levi (Shazam!), begged Coach Allen, played by Adam Baldwin, his Northern Iowa University coach, to give him a chance. Despite doing well when he got his chance, he was not drafted in the National Football League (NFL). Later, he was signed to the Green Bay Packers, but was quickly released.
While at Northern Illinois University, Warner meets Brenda, played by Oscar winner Anna Paquin (The Piano), a divorced mom of two, at a country music bar. Brenda, a Christian, has trust issues, as her husband had cheated on her when she was pregnant with their second child. Brenda’s son Zach, played by Hayden Zaller, is disabled and nearly blind, because of an accident.
The film takes time to show how Kurt’s relationship builds with Brenda, her children and her parents. The love story between Kurt and Brenda and her children is a major element of the film, while his faith in Christ is not emphasized.
Not hearing from any NFL teams, and needing to make money to support Brenda and the children, Kurt takes a job stocking shelves at the local Hy-Vee. He is then approached by the Arena Football League’s Iowa Barnstormers Coach Jim Foster, played by Bruce McGill (Lincoln, Waiting Game). After leading the Barnstormers to the Arena Bowl, Warner was signed by the St. Louis Rams of the NFL. The film shows how Rams head coach Dick Vermeil, played by Dennis Quaid (The Rookie, I Can Only Imagine) believed in him, even if offensive coordinator Mike Martz, played by Chance Kelly, didn’t.
This is a well-made film that blends some scenes of Warner’s real-life football highlights with football scenes filmed for the movie. Warner was my all-time favorite football player, and it was a joy to watch this inspirational film based on his life story that everyone can enjoy.