Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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THIS & THAT: A Weekly Roundup of Favorite Articles, Cartoon, & Quotes

  • Coronavirus and Christ. Here are some resources on the Coronavirus from John Piper and Desiring God.
  • 4 Principles to Remember When Talking to Your Children about Coronavirus. Brad Hambrick offers these helpful thoughts on how to talk to your children about the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The Coronavirus is a Result of the Fall. Kevin DeYoung writes “The coronavirus is a natural evil, under God’s providential control to be sure, but whose existence is the result of original sin. The root of all human pain and suffering in the world is the rebellion of our first parents—a rebellion that Christ conquered on the cross and will one day wipe away, along with all its sad and sinister effects.”
  • God Doesn’t Want Us to Sacrifice the Old. Russell Moore writes “This pandemic will change us, change our economy, our culture, our priorities, our personal lives. That we cannot avoid. But let’s remember: One day we will tell our grandchildren how we lived, how we loved, during the Great Pandemic. Let’s respect human life in such a way that we will not be ashamed to tell them the truth.”
  • Peace in a Pandemic. Listen to this sermon from David Platt from Proverbs 12:25 and Matthew 6:25-34.

Things to Do While Forced to Stay at Home

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  • More interesting article links
  • Cartoon of the Week
  • Favorite Quotes of the Week

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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

  • Working Remotely for the Glory of God. Joe Holland writes “Without question, workspaces around the globe will be forever changed by this virus. But it doesn’t have to be for ill.”
  • A Prayer for Working from Home. Will Sorrell offers this helpful and timely prayer for those suddenly having to work from home.
  • Understanding How Men and Women Approach Family Life and Work. Courtney Reissig writes “As a Christian, there are overarching principles that can help us in understanding our fellow brothers and sisters as they work and parent. These principles may also help us as we live in community with one another in our local churches, allowing for freedom and nuance regarding our work and family life balance.”
  • Are You an Ideal Team Player? Patrick Lencioni thinks it is time to change the way we prepare people for success. Drawing from his book, The Ideal Team Player, Lencioni makes the compelling case that the key to success in an increasingly team-oriented world is being humble, hungry and smart. Whether you’re a CEO or a 7th grader, focusing on these deceptively simple virtues can radically improve your personal and professional effectiveness and fulfillment.

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  • More links to interesting articles
  • The Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week
  • My Review of
    • The Motive: Why So Many Leaders Abdicate Their Most Important Responsibilities by Patrick Lencioni
    • Lead Like Jesus: Lessons from the Greatest Leadership Role Model of All Time by Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges
  • Snippets from Os Guinness’ book “The Call: Finding and Fulfilling God’s Purpose For Your Life”

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Find Work That Will Allow You to Play to Your Strengths

Have you ever had work that just drained or weakened you? Perhaps it was an activity or a particular meeting that you just dreaded? Years ago, for me it was strategic planning sessions. I really dreaded them.
In 2007 Marcus Buckingham published his book Go Put Your Strengths to Work: 6 Powerful Steps to Achieve Outstanding Performance. In a sea of business and professional development books, this was a book that really resonated with me. I read it once on my own, and then two more times in book clubs. In addition, our team watched a companion video titled “Trombone Player Wanted”.
Around that same time, our organization had a helpful “Building Leadership Skills” program, in which leadership and non-leadership associates who wanted to grow in their leadership skills read and discussed Buckingham’s book The Truth About You: Your Secret to Success as a group. That book was an abridged version of Go Put Your Strengths to Work. Our organization (and I) was “all in” on Buckingham’s “Strengths Revolution”.
Although there was a lot of excellent information in these books, here’s what I remember, and what continues to be helpful, more than ten years later. Some work (activities) strengthen us, and some weaken us. What strengthens me, may weaken you. Our goal should be to find work that strengthens us (lets us play to our strengths) as much of the time as possible.
In the books, Buckingham has you record all of your work activities (meetings, etc.) for a period of time (a week or two). After each activity is completed, you indicate whether the activity strengthened you or weakened you. Based on this information, you develop strength and weakness statements. That activity was eye-opening for me. Yes, strategic planning sessions really weakened me. Working with team members and mentees who were proactive about their development definitely strengthened me. Although we can rarely design a job completely to our specifications, this exercise helped me to find work for myself, and others, that would strengthen them.
I can clearly remember watching “Trombone Player Wanted” with my team. It was clear that some were excited about the concepts discussed, while others felt it was just the next “flavor of the month”, and they tuned out. For one team member, Del,  it helped him understand why he wasn’t successful on a particular assignment, and what work he needed to find to be successful at. Another team member, Jim, really bought into the strengths movement as well. Jim and I would continue to work together for the much of the next eleven years, and we would often talk about work that either strengthened him or weakened him.
We are all wired differently. The work that strengthens you, may weaken me. I recommend that you check out these books by Marcus Buckingham to help find the work that strengthens you.


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Complaining to God

Note – This is a guest blog by Tammy Pence, my wife.  She loves to sing, so has inserted links to songs, etc. for you along the way, and has put in bold print verses that would be great to memorize.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Have you ever had a spiritual crisis of faith?  Have you ever heard of the book of Habakkuk in the Bible?  Who names a kid Habakkuk?  Who knew that ol’ Huck’s story could help us in this time of coronavirus crisis, or any time of doubt and need?

Habakkuk is struggling with questions of faith, so he takes them in prayer to God; His covenant God is the only one that can answer him.  He is weighed down by this broken world, but persists in prayer even when it seemed God was not listening.  Huck says that’s he’s going to stand at his watchpost/tower and wait for an answer from God to his seemingly hopeless situation.  Huck’s a bit sassy, isn’t he?

COMPLAINTS

“Are my prayers stopping at the ceiling?  Do you hear me God?” “Why does evil seem to go unpunished?  Seems like nasty wicked people are prospering and ruling!”  “Is there no justice?”  And maybe even, “are you sovereign and in control?”  “Are you indifferent?”  “CAN YOU HEAR ME, GOD!”

Fill in the blank with your own complaints and questions. __________________

GOD’S ANSWERS Continue reading


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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

American Standard – James Taylor
****

American Standard is James Taylor’s 19th studio album, and first new album since 2015’s Before This World. The songs on the album are songs he has always known. He writes in the liner notes that most were part of his family’s record collection, the first music he heard as a kid growing up in North Carolina.
Work on the album began a little over two years ago when John Pizzarelli joined Taylor at the Barn, his recording studio in Massachusetts to work on a few songs. Taylor loved the sound of their two guitars together, and that forms the basic sound of these songs, giving it the feel of Taylor’s early recordings. As he reinterprets these songs, he is supported by his regular family of players who tour and record with him, as well as contributions from Viktor Krauss (upright bass), Stuart Duncan (violin) and Jerry Douglas (dobro). The album is produced by Taylor, along with Dave O’Donnell and John Pizzarelli.
Below are a few comments about each of the songs on the album:

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  • More of this review and reviews of
    • More Blood, More Tracks: The Bootleg Series Vol. 14 – Bob Dylan
    • Live from the NATIVE TONGUE Tour – Switchfoot
  • Music News
  • Song of the Week Lyrics

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My Review of EMMA.

EMMA., rated PG
** ½

EMMA., newly available on home video, is the latest film adaptation of the last novel published by Jane Austen during her lifetime. Set in England in the 1800’s, the film features beautiful costumes, beautiful scenery, good production design and solid acting, but the two-hour film moves slowly, and doesn’t get interesting until the final thirty minutes. The film is directed by Autumn de Wilde in his feature film debut, and the screenplay is written by Eleanor Catton. Emma Woodhouse is played by Anya Taylor-Joy (Glass, Split). She lives with her wealthy father, played by Golden Globe winner Bill Nighy (Gideon’s Daughter, Love Actually, Pirates of the Caribbean), on a giant estate in the English countryside. Her lifelong friend George Knightly, played by Johnny Flynn, lives across a field and comes by the estate frequently. George knows Emma well, and is one of the only people in her life that can honestly speak to the selfish, arrogant and at times rude young woman. Emma doesn’t have much that she has to do, so she has taken to matchmaking, specifically with Harriet Smith, an orphaned girl of unknown parentage, living at a local girl’s school, played by Mia Goth. Harriet has taken a liking to Mr. Martin, a widowed farmer, played by Connor Swindells. Emma believes that Harriet can do better, and Harriet trusts her, so Emma convinces Harriet to turn down Mr. Martin’s proposal and instead tries to match her up with the local vicar, the unlikeable Mr. Elton, played by Josh O’Connor (The Crown). Continue reading


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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS


New Life in Christ: What Really Happens When You’re Born Again and Why It Matters by Steven Lawson. Baker Books. 224 pages. 2020
****

In this book, pastor Steven Lawson considers the new birth by looking at Jesus’s well-known encounter nighttime encounter with Nicodemus in John 3. I have seen the author preach on numerous occasions, and as Sinclair Ferguson writes in the “Foreword”, you may, as I did, hear his voice preaching as you read this book, which reads like one of his preaching series, and is a nice companion to his Ligonier Ministries teaching series The New Birth.
What does it mean to be born again? The author tells us that being born again means that God implants divine life within our spiritually dead heart. He tells us that there are two sides of the entrance into the kingdom of God. On one side is the person’s activity. The other side involves God’s activity. God must cause a person to be born again, which, in turn, produces saving faith. It is the new birth that enables us to receive Jesus Christ into our life. Similarly, R.C. Sproul would often say that “regeneration proceeds faith”.

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BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review… and reviews of
~ Making a Difference: Impacting Culture and Society as a Christian by R.C. Sproul and
~ I Still Believe: A Memoir of Wreckage, Recovery, and Relentless Love. Russ and Tori Taff with Mark Smeby
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur
I’M CURRENTLY READING…. Continue reading