Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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Your Story: You May Start Slow, But You Can Finish Strong


It’s not uncommon for people at our church to talk about their “story”, a subject that I find of interest. As I look at my particular story, I see how I started slowly, but Lord willing, I hope to finish strong. I hope that reading this part of my story will help you as you strive to finish strong as well.
I recently recalled an embarrassing and humiliating event that took place in my life nearly fifty years ago. I’ll get to that shortly, but first a little background. Continue reading


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THIS & THAT: A Roundup of Favorite Articles and Quotes

  • Disney’s Strange World Embodies Strange New World. Brett McCracken writes “Two 2022 releases: Disney’s Strange World and Carl Trueman’s book Strange New World (see my review of Trueman’s book here). Any youth unfortunate enough to have seen the former should be required to read the latter. Disney’s film represents the cultural sickness Trueman’s book analyzes.”
  • What Should Christians Think About Same-Sex Marriage? Kevin DeYoung writes “We must not be naive. The legitimization of same-sex marriage will mean the de-legitimization of those who dare to disagree. The sexual revolution has been no great respecter of civil and religious liberties. Sadly, we may discover that there is nothing quite so intolerant as tolerance.”
  • A Massive Victory for the Moral Revolutionaries. Albert Mohler writes “Yesterday was not just another day in the life of the United States Senate. It was not just another badday in Senate history. What happened yesterday represents an abject failure to uphold the most basic institution of human civilization. The Senate voted to redefine marriage. Sixty-one senators voted for what they dared to call the Respect for Marriage Act, as if subverting marriage is an act of respect.”

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
~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

  • How Can I Learn to Take Criticism? On this episode of the Ask Pastor John podcast, John Piper addresses this question “I think too much about what people think of me. In particular, when people criticize me, I really take it to heart. I know I should focus on Jesus. But I fail. Sometimes I cannot sleep as I think about what people said about me. It is worst at work. I really take my office job to heart and cannot deal with it when my boss criticizes anything about what I do. I might look cool and stay calm and polite, but I wilt inside. What can I do to overcome this feeling of hurt? How can I focus on Jesus instead of myself?”
  • Should I Charge Other Christians For My Expertise? On this episode of the Ask Pastor John podcast, John Piper responds to the question “I’m a graphic designer. I’m trying to live out my gift according to 1 Peter 4:10: ‘As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.’ How can I obey this verse without feeling resentful and bitter toward people — Christians and non-Christians — who mainly contact me because I have a skill that can fulfill their need, but who use my skills and never pay me for them? I often feel ‘used’ and deemed worthy for ‘friendship’ by what I can do, not who I am. My assumption is that if I did not possess this graphic-design gift, these people would never contact me. How do we think about the value of skills that are God-given, about the right of making a little bit of money from these God-given gifts to make a living?”
  • I Know I Matter to God, But Does My Work? Part III. Steve Lindsey writes “The work we do through our faith, faithfulness, and occasional long-suffering and trials become the very means God uses to shape us more into his image.”

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

  • More links to interesting articles
  • The Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week
  • My Review of Death by Meeting: A Leadership Fable…About Solving the Most Painful Problem in Business by Patrick Lencioni
  • Quotes from the book You’re Only Human: How Your Limits Reflect God’s Design and Why That’s Good News by Kelly Kapic

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Leaders, You’ll Rarely Be the Smartest Person in the Room

Leaders may or may not be subject matter experts in their given field. I was rarely, if ever, the smartest person in the room when working with my teams. A leader’s primary responsibility has to be to provide a compelling vision of a better future for their particular area of responsibility (team, division, organization, country, etc.). This has to be a vision that attracts others who believe that the leader has the ability to bring it to fruition. Thus, the leader needs to influence others to follow them. Leadership expert John Maxwell has often said that “Leadership is influence, nothing more and nothing less”.

Why do I say that the leader may not be a subject matter expert in their area of responsibility? That seems to go against what I have previously written that we want our leaders to have both competence and character. Wouldn’t a leader need to have an understanding of the area they are leading in order to be competent, and earn the trust of their followers? Continue reading


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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

Sandra McCracken is a singer-songwriter and hymn writer from Nashville, Tennessee. A prolific recording artist, McCracken has produced 14 solo albums over two decades. Her best selling release, Psalms (2015) received critical acclaim, followed by God’s Highway (2017) which made the top 50 on Billboard Heatseekers chart without a major label. She has had songs featured in TV, including ‘Ten Thousand Angels’ on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy and has over 15 million streams. Blending the old and new, Sandra has also shown a unique ability to recast sacred scripture texts into theologically rich yet accessible songs. Her thoughtful lyrics and gospel melodies in songs like “We Will Feast In The House Of Zion,” “Steadfast” and “Thy Mercy My God” have become staple anthems in churches across the U.S. As a published writer, she contributes a regular column in Christianity Today and released her first book “Send Out Your Light” in September 2021.  She has released three full-length albums in 2022. Here are reviews of each of them:

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  • More Sandra McCracken reviews
  • Music News
  • Song of the Week Lyrics ~ Rejoice by Keith and Kristyn Getty and Rend Collective

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7 Upcoming 2023 Music Releases 

There are several upcoming music releases that you might be interested in during the first quarter of 2023. Here are seven of them:

Fragments: Time Out of Mind Sessions 1996-1997 The Bootleg Series Vol. 17 – Bob Dylan

To be released January 27.

The 17th volume in Dylan’s Bootleg Series, this one focuses on sessions from his acclaimed album Time Out of Mind. The song “Love Sick” (Version 2) has been released in advance of the album.


Sing! Christ Our Hope in Life and Death – Keith and Kristyn Getty and Friends

To be released January 27.

This is the live album from the 2022 Sing! Getty Music Conference from Nashville. Artists will include Keith and Kristyn Getty, Shane and Shane, CityAlight and many more. Thus far, the song “Rejoice” by Keith and Kristyn Getty, with Shane and Shane has been released.


Lamb of God – Matt Redman

To be released February 17.

This is a live album from Matt Redman recorded at the historic Mission San Juan Capistrano, California. Three songs have been released in advance of the album – “The Praise is Yours”, “Son of Suffering” and “Halfway Empty”.


Moving on Skiffle – Van Morrison

To be released March 10.

The prolific Morrison’s next project is a 23-track, double album. Two songs have been released in advance of the album – “Streamline Train” and “I’m moving On”.


Wilder Woods (title to be determined)

Release date to be determined.

Wilder Woods is NEEDTOBREATHE’s lead singer and songwriter Bear Rinehart. “Maestro (Tears Don’t Lie)” is the first single released in advance of the album.


Songs of Surrender – U2

To be released March17

During the lockdown, U2 reimagined and recorded 40 of their songs. We can expect the track list to follow the chapters in Bono’s recent book Surrender. The first single from the album is “Pride (In the Name of Love)”


Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs (Live) – Shane and Shane

To be released March 17

I was introduced to Shane and Shane at the 2018 Sing! Getty Worship Conference, and have enjoyed their worship music ever since. “You’ve Already Won” and “All Sufficient Merit” have been released in advance of the album.


These are seven upcoming music releases that I’m looking forward to. What new albums are you looking forward to in 2023?


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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS


A Sheep Remembers by David B. Calhoun. Banner of Truth. 200 pages. 2021
****

Ligon Duncan writes a warm Preface for this wonderful devotionally written book by one of my favorite professors at Covenant Seminary, where he taught for 30 years. I had two church history classes with him early in my time at Covenant, and he was also the speaker at our church years ago for a men’s breakfast. Duncan writes that the Lord called Dr. Calhoun home just as this book had been safely delivered to the publisher.
Calhoun, who describes himself as a preacher and teacher, tells us that the twenty-third Psalm is probably the best known of all the chapters of the Bible and among the most memorable words ever written in any language. In this book he tries to explain the words of Psalm 23 as David meant them, but also in the fuller light of the New Testament, a light that the psalmist partially saw. Psalm 23 is about the Lord Jesus Christ.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
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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THIS & THAT: A Roundup of Favorite Articles and Quotes

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

    • More interesting article links
    • Favorite Quotes of the Week

Continue reading


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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

  • I Know I Matter to God, But Does My Work? Part 2. In this article, Steve Lindsey explores how our work is directly connected to God’s primary call and purpose for our lives.
  • 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).
  • A Fresh Approach to Team Building. Russ Gehrlein writes “Based on the experiences that God has graciously given me, let me share some basic principles and wisdom learned by experience, sometimes the hard way, that may help you build your teams.”
  • Help! My Job is Just a Job. Bryan Chapell writes “As Christians we need to understand that our occupation actu­ally has a vocation in it.”

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

    • More links to interesting articles
    • The Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week
    • My Review of ~The 6 Types of Working Genius: A Better Way to Understand Your Gifts, Your Frustrations, and Your Team by Patrick Lencioni
    • Quotes from the book You’re Only Human: How Your Limits Reflect God’s Design and Why That’s Good News by Kelly Kapic

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Leadership Attributes: Humility


What makes a great leader? A few years ago, I asked a few colleagues at work to tell me what they thought were the attributes of a great leader. As you can expect, I got a wide variety of responses, from motivator to inclusive to risk taker and problem solver. In this new series on leadership attributes, I will write about several of these attributes. The first one will be humility.

Jim Collins, author of the business classic Good to Great, in looking for what made the difference in companies that were able to move from “good to great” and sustain that greatness, identified two distinct characteristics among the leaders of those companies, one of which was humility. At first, the importance of humility seems surprising. Think of some of the leaders you have worked with. Would the attribute of humility describe them? I hope so, but I’m not sure. Or consider some of our national political leaders. Humility may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of them. Continue reading