Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

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THIS & THAT: A Roundup of Favorite Articles and Quotes

  • Paralyzed and Blessed: My Unlikely Path to Happiness. Joni Eareckson Tada writes “A godly response to suffering places you under a deluge of divine blessings.”
  • Pornography Use is Becoming an “Acceptable Sin”. Joe Carter writes “A recent poll shows pornography is affecting relationships between men and women—and reveals how indulging in porn is becoming an acceptable sin.”
  • When It Doesn’t Feel God Is With You. Courtney Reisigg writes “Suffering has a way of making you feel like God has left you. Where is God in these moments? How do you find him? Let’s be honest. Sometimes you can’t. This is where Genesis 39 comes in.”
  • Is Attending a Wedding an Endorsement? “Since attending a wedding means more than just showing up, but actually showing approval, we should ask ourselves if this particular union is one we can add our affirmation to cheerfully and with a clear and biblically informed conscience.”

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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

  • What Should I Do When My Colleague Overpromises? Charlie Self responds to the question “Sometimes I hear my boss promise things I know we can’t deliver. I know he’s just trying to reassure the client and land the sale, but it makes me deeply uncomfortable. I want to correct him, but I also want to respect him—especially in front of our clients. Is there a way to correct someone so gently it won’t be embarrassing?”
  • Let’s Talk: What’s the Point of Work? On this episode of the Let’s Talk podcast, Jackie Hill Perry, Jasmine Holmes and Melissa Kruger talk about how to think rightly about work. “There are real thorns and thistles with all of our work, even if it’s not physical ones,” Melissa says. Whether it’s just we’re tired or we’re overworked. There are all these things that, I think, in perfection wouldn’t have been true.” Yet in spite of these thorns and thistles, we can still experience God-given purpose in work as we steward the opportunities God has given us.
  • Why Working Women are Starting to Unplug from Their Churches. Sandra Crawford Williamson shares four reasons why working women choose to stay home from church.
  • How to Reconcile Cultural Differences in the Workplace with David Bailey. On this episode of the Denver Institute Faith & Work Podcast, Joanna Meyer visits with David Bailey, Founder and CEO of Arrabon, a nonprofit that helps leaders and organizations with guidance, education, and tools to build more empathetic, reconciled communities.

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  • More links to interesting articles
  • The Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week
  • My Review of The Flourishing Pastor: Recovering the Lost Art of Shepherd Leadership by Tom Nelson
  • 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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Why Do You Want to Be A Leader?

I mentored many individuals in my career who were aspiring to a leadership position in our organization. I would always ask them one question – “Why do you want to be a leader?” The answer to that question can tell you a lot.
I remember a friend who was asked that question by a senior leader. They hadn’t thought through their answer before being asked, and their answer was such that as a result, the leader would not support them for a leadership position moving forward. If you see leadership as a calling, you need to have your answer to the question “Why do you want to be a leader?” ready for whoever may ask you.
There are many reasons why people might want to secure a formal leadership position. (I say “formal” because I firmly believe that you can be a leader no matter what position you hold). Some pursue leadership for the title, position or status. Some pursue leadership for the salary or bonuses available. Some pursue leadership because they feel that they are entitled to it, based on length of service or prior individual contributions. I believe these are all poor reasons to pursue leadership.
I see leadership as a calling. I feel that leadership is one of the things that the Lord has gifted and prepared me for. My objectives in being a leader were to drive results for the organization and to develop people, both those on my teams and those I mentored. In other words, I aimed to make things better, both for the organization and for the people I was blessed to work with and mentor. I think that’s what servant leadership is all about.
Leadership experts John Maxwell and Ken Blanchard believe that the only way to create great relationships and results is through servant leadership. Maxwell states that servant leadership is all about putting other people first. Many leaders are not respected because they tend to put themselves first, not others. Blanchard has written that we have all seen the negative impact of self-serving leaders in every sector of our society. Maxwell offers a solution, indicating that the leader should be there for the people, not the people for the leader. Dave Ramsey states that if there’s one key to servant leadership, it’s pretty simple: put other people first. Cheryl Bachelder, the former CEO of Popeyes, writes that servant leadership simply means service above self.
Does this describe your current leader, or leaders that you have reported to in the past? Perhaps not. A better question may be “Does this describe the leader you want to be?” When someone asks you why you want to be a leader, why not indicate that you:

  1. Will make a difference.
  2. Drive strong results.
  3. Develop people.
  4. Put other people first.

How about you? If I were to ask you why you want to be a leader, how would you respond?

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My Review of Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledorerated PG-13

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, is the third film (out of a planned five), in the Fantastic Beasts series, a prequel to the Harry Potter series, taking place decades earlier, and based on characters created by J.K. Rowling. The film was entertaining, with creative production design, music by James Newton Howard, good special effects, some magic, and of course the beasts. However, the biggest of Dumbledore’s secrets (that he is gay) will not please some filmgoers. In addition, there were perhaps too many characters and subplots to keep track of.
The film was directed by Emmy nominee David Yates (The Girl in the Café). Yates has directed all three of the Fantastic Beasts films and also directed the last four of the Harry Potter films. The film was written by J.K. Rowling and Oscar nominee Steve Kloves (Wonder Boys). Kloves was the screenwriter for all but one of the Harry Potter films. The film cost approximately $200 million.
The film opens with magical zoologist Newt Scamander, played by Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything, The Danish Girl), witnessing a mother qilin (pronounced chillin), a rare deer-like animal, giving birth. The qilin are valuable for reasons we will find out later in the film. Immediately, there are those who try to steal the qilin baby.
Then we see Albus Dumbledore, played by two-time Oscar nominee Jude Law (Cold Mountain, The Talented Mr. Ripley), meeting Gellert Grinderwald played by Mads Mikkelsen in a restaurant. Mikkelsen replaces Johnny Depp as the Grinderwald character. They refer back to a romantic relationship they had years ago. Grinderwald has plans to take over the magical world and wage war on the Muggles (non-wizards), and tells Dumbledore, “With or without you, I’ll burn down their world”. Continue reading

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My Review of FATHER STU

Father Stu – rated R
** ½

Father Stu is an at times inspiring faith-based film that is based on a true story. The film features an excellent cast, but moves along slowly at times, is extremely sad and contains pervasive strong adult language. As a result, it may be hard to find an audience for the film. Those normally interested in a faith-based film, may find the pervasive adult language too much to overcome. As a result, it’s hard to recommend the film, which was written and directed by Rosalind Ross, Mel Gibson’s real-life partner.
Two-time Oscar nominee Mark Wahlberg (The Departed, The Fighter), delivers a possible Oscar worthy performance as Stu Long. Stu is the son of Bill, played by two-time Oscar winner Mel Gibson (Braveheart), and Kathleen, played by two-time Oscar nominee Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom, Silver Linings Playbook). Bill lives away from the family in California, working a blue-collar job, and is an alcoholic. A younger son of Bill and Kathleen died when he was only six.
Stu is an amateur boxer, who eventually has to quit boxing after jaw surgery. He then decides to go to Hollywood to try to become an actor.  He secures a job in a grocery store at the meat counter to pay the bills until he gets his big break. It is while working there that he sees the beautiful Carmen, played by Teresa Ruiz. He is able to find out that she is active in a local Roman Catholic Church, so he pursues her there. Initially, Carmen wants nothing to do with Stu, but he will do anything for her, and agrees to be baptized. Continue reading

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My Review of The Creator in You by Jordan Raynor and Jonathan David

The Creator in You by Jordan Raynor and Jonathan David. WaterBrook. 37 pages. 2022

The Creator in You is the first children’s book written by Jordan Raynor (Called to Create, Master of One and Redeeming Your Time). The book is beautifully illustrated by Jonathan David. In his books, Raynor helps Christians to more deeply connect their faith with their work.
The book tells children that in the very beginning, God created the world so that we would all know that He Himself is a working God. On the sixth day, God chose to create people. God made us to look like Him, to act and work and create with Him.
Raynor tells us that he wrote the book because he was tired of reading books to his own children that treated “the sixth day” as the end of creation. Instead, day six was just the beginning. He tells us that on the sixth day, God passed the baton of creation to us, inviting us to fill the earth with good things that would reveal His character and serve people well.
The book is intended for children ages 3-7. I can’t wait to read this book about imaging God as a worker to our triplet nephews, who just turned 3 years old.

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Get Back: The Rooftop Performance

Over Thanksgiving weekend 2021, Disney+ released Peter Jackson’s The Beatles Get Back. See my review here. In addition, there were special remix editions of the Beatles 1970 album Let It Be. Now, for the first time, the complete recording of the Beatles final concert appearance, recorded January 30, 1969 on top of the band’s Apple Corps headquarters in Central London, has been released on streaming sites as Get Back: The Rooftop Performance. Running a little more than thirty-eight minutes, the concert includes new stereo and Dolby Atmos mixes by Giles Martin (son of Beatles producer George Martin), and Sam Okell, consists of ten tracks – “Get Back” (three versions), “Don’t Let Me Down” (two versions), “I’ve Got a Feeling” (two versions), “Dig a Pony”, “One After 909”, and a brief instrumental “God Save the Queen”. Three of the songs from the rooftop performance made it on to the original Let It Be album – “I’ve Got a Feeling,” “Dig a Pony,” and “One After 909.”
A film version of the rooftop concert was shown in select IMAX theatres January 30, and will be available on Blu-Ray and DVD.

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  • A review of Stand by the Newsboys
  • Music News
  • Song of the Week Lyrics – “Stand” by the Newsboys, featuring TobyMac

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40 Days of Grace by Paul Tripp. 96 pages. Crossway. 2020

One of my favorite books of devotional readings is Paul Tripp’s New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional. 40 Days of Grace is one of four small books of forty devotionals that have been taken from that book. The other books are 40 Days of Faith, Hope and Love. My recommendation would be to read the original New Morning Mercies, rather than these individual books.
Here are some of my favorite quotes from 40 Days of Grace:

  • Grace is the bottomless, treasure-laden mine of divine help. There simply is nothing comparable to God’s amazing grace.
  • Grace is more than just a story, it’s more than just a theology, and it’s more than just a powerful force—no, grace is a person, and his name is Jesus.
  • You no longer have to hope and pray that someday you will measure up, because Jesus has measured up on your behalf.
  • If you find more joy in serving God than yourself, you know that grace has entered your door, because only grace has the power to rescue you from you.
  • You measure up in his eyes even on those days when you don’t measure up, because Jesus measured up on your behalf.
  • God has welcomed you into his arms, but he’s not satisfied. He will not leave his work of redemption until every heart of every one of his children has been fully transformed by his powerful grace.
  • Only grace can cause you and me to abandon our confidence in our own performance and place our confidence in the perfectly acceptable righteousness of Jesus Christ.
  • Real freedom is only ever found when God’s grace liberates you to live for one infinitely greater than you.
  • Just as in the first moment we believed, we are always completely dependent on the grace of the Savior for every spiritual need.
  • Grace forces you to feel the pain of your regrets, but never asks you to pay for them, because the price has already been paid by Jesus.
  • We’re all still a bit of a mess; that’s why we need God’s grace today as much as we needed it the first day we believed.
  • On your very worst day and on your very best day, you are blessed with pleasures that come right from the hand of God. That tells you that you don’t get these pleasures because you’ve earned or deserved them, but because he is a God of grace.
  • Grace means that when God calls you, he goes with you, supplying what you need for the task at hand.

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

  • Bryan Chapell Devotional. Daily Grace: 365 Daily Devotions Reflecting God’s Unlimited Grace is a new book of daily devotional readings by Bryan Chapell who served as President of Covenant Theological Seminary and more recently as Senior Pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church in Peoria, Illinois.
  • 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.”
  • 23 Tips from 23 Years of Book Reading. As an avid reader, I appreciated these reading tips from Tony Reinke.

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 23: A Bath of Truth and the Gift of Birth. Here are a few takeaways from the chapter:

  • Christ walked into death of his own accord. And he walked out of his own accord.
  • The praise of the glory of Christ, manifest supremely in dying and destroying death for his people, was the plan of the ages, and the purpose of all that has ever come to pass in the all-encompassing providence of God.
  • It belongs to God, and God alone, to have absolute sway over life and death.
  • Conception and birth are in the hands of the Lord.

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CODA, rated PG-13

CODA is a delightful film about a fishing family in Gloucester, Massachusetts in which only the daughter is not deaf. The film, a remake of a 2014 French film, and directed by Sian Heder, recently won three Oscars, including Best Motion Picture. Heder won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay and Troy Kotsur won for Best Supporting Actor. In many, if not most years, I would not agree with the Best Film selection. This year however, I am in hearty agreement. I thoroughly enjoyed this film. The film’s title comes from an acronym that stands for Child Of Deaf Adults.
The close-knit Rossi family is comprised of father Frank, played by Oscar winner Troy Kotsur (CODA), mother Jackie, played by Oscar winner Marlee Martin (Children of a Lesser God), brother Leo, played by Daniel Durant, and the music loving Ruby, played by Emilia Jones. Frank, Leo and Ruby support the family by fishing, beginning their days at 3am. The family particularly depends on Ruby as the only speaking member of the family, as she has spent her whole life interpreting for them. Much of the film utilizes subtitles, depicting the dialogue of the three deaf members of the family.
Jones as Ruby is the heart of this film. She is a bit of an outsider at school. She is shy and is made fun of – first for the way she spoke when she first entered school and now for the way she smells like fish, as she leaves the fishing boat and rides her bike directly to high school. Continue reading

This and That

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THIS & THAT: A Roundup of Favorite Articles and Quotes

  • How to Argue Against Gender-Transition Interventions in Children. Joe Carter writes “A new study finds that an increasing number of Americans support hormonal and surgical interventions for adolescents experiencing gender dysphoria. How should Christians convince them to oppose this harm to children?”
  • 6 Things Christians Should Know About Gen Z. Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra writes “The leading edge of Gen Z turns 25 this year, which means this cohort is starting to graduate from college, get jobs, and rent apartments. They’re old enough to drink alcohol, vote, rent a car—and walk into your church.” She shares what campus ministry workers across the country say about the trends all church leaders should prepare to address in the next generation.
  • Super Bowl MVP Cooper Kupp’s Example of Boldly Acknowledging Christ. Randy Alcorn writes “I enjoyed Sports Spectrum’s article Rams WR Cooper Kupp finds ultimate purpose in honoring God on journey to Super Bowl. It included these two short videos of Kupp being interviewed before the game.
  • Toward a More Comprehensive Pro-Life Vision. Scott Sauls writes “My conclusion is that the core issue in the pro-life vs. pro-choice debate is whose rights matter most. Is it the rights of the mother or the rights of the infant in her womb? Scripture confirms that the answer is “yes” to both, and with a caveat. Neither mother nor infant has a right to do violence to the other. Both have a right to the life, nurture, and care due to all God’s image-bearers.”

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  • More interesting article links about Christian living, theology, etc.
  • Favorite Quotes of the Week

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