Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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THIS & THAT and Favorite Quotes of the Week

TOPICS IN THE NEWS:

  • Racism and Corporate Evil: A White Guy’s Perspective. Watch this 26-minute address from Tim Keller, which was part of an event that marked the release of John Piper’s book Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christian, for which Keller wrote the Foreword.
  • Charlottesville, Confederate Memorials, and Southern Culture. John Piper writes “So here I am, a Christian exile in America pondering the implications of Charlottesville. You will see below why my mind has gone in the direction of Confederate memorials. How should I think and act about that point of conflict? What are we to do as a nation? The questions multiplied. Here is my best effort so far to find some answers.” Consider his four recommendations.
  • John MacArthur on Charlottesville, Racism, and God’s Word. What’s a biblical response to racism and the tragic events in Charlottesville? John MacArthur answered that question in this interview with Frank Sontag on 99.5 KKLA in Los Angeles.
  • Special Report on Sexuality and Gender. David Murray shares interesting findings from The New Atlantis Journal’s“A Special Report on Sexuality and Gender: Findings from the Biological, Psychological, and Social Sciences”.
  • Precious Clarity on Human Sexuality. John Piper introduces the “Nashville Statement”, writing “The Nashville Statement is a Christian manifesto concerning issues of human sexuality. It speaks with forthright clarity, biblical conviction, gospel compassion, cultural relevance, and practical helpfulness. There is no effort to equivocate for the sake of wider, but muddled, acceptance.” Aimee Byrd offers this response to the “Nashville Statement”.
  • Why is Sexuality Such a Big Deal for the Church? Emily McFarlan Miller writes “Mohler describes a collision between “two massive and very powerful cultural realities.” One is the “long, consistent testimony of Christianity concerning God’s plan for human sexuality, marriage and gender” that reserves sex for one man and one woman within marriage, he said. The other is a “moral revolution being driven largely by what is considered to be sexual liberation.”
  • Why the Nashville Statement Now, and What about Article 10?Denny Burk writes “We also began to see a great deal of criticism and more than a few questions. All of this was to be expected. This will be an ongoing conversation going forward, and we will be engaging the substantive issues at stake in the days ahead in this space. But I wanted to take an opportunity to address three items that have come up today—two mundane points and one substantive.”
  • When Calling Yourself a “Christian” Isn’t Enough. Adam Parker writes “Is it possible that the term “Christian,” like “Evangelical,” isn’t enough? Since the “Nashville Statement” was released, we have seen a number of negative responses from people also wanting to claim the name of Christian.”
  • Should You Call a Transgender Person “Him” or “Her”?It’s very common to hear debates about pronoun usage. For example, should you call a transgender male “he” (as they identify themselves) or “she” (since they are biologically female)? Christians disagree—hopefully charitably—about pronoun usage, this short video offers some helpful advice from Andrew Walker, author of God and The Transgender Debate. 

Courtesy of World Magazine

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Confessions of a (Recovering) Elder Brother

Growing up, when I would read Jesus’ Parable of the Prodigal Son (in Luke 15:11–32), it was always the younger brother, the prodigal son, that I felt was the focus of the story. After all, that was the title of the parable, right? But that all changed when I read two excellent books on this parable in 2008 – A Tale of Two Sons (later retitled as The Prodigal Son), by John MacArthur, and The Prodigal God by Tim Keller.
MacArthur tells us that the lesson of the elder brother, who symbolizes the Pharisees in the parable, is often overlooked in many popular retellings. And yet it is, he states, the main reason Jesus told the parable.  He tells us that there’s good reason this short story pulls at the heartstrings of so many hearers – we recognize ourselves in it. This is true whether we are believers, conscious of our own guilt but still unrepentant, sinners coming to repentance, or unbelievers.  This parable, and MacArthur’s and Keller’s books resonate with me so much because I unfortunately see the potential for too much of the elder brother in me. After attending Scotty Smith’s “Disciplines of Grace” class at Covenant Seminary a few years back, in which he used Rembrandt’s painting The Return of the Prodigal Son (see above), I kept a poster of the painting in my office at work, and would often look up at the condemning elder son.
Here are a few ways in which I have seen myself demonstrate the traits of the elder brother:

  • Doctrinal Pride. Tim Keller writes that what elder brothers pride themselves above all is their right religion. He states that if a group believes God favors them because of their particularly true doctrine, ways of worship, and ethical behavior, their attitude toward those without these things can be hostile. I believe doctrine is important, very important. I don’t apologize for that. However, I often find myself being intolerant of believers who don’t adhere to the conservative, Reformed theology that I do. And I can be pretty critical (see next paragraph) about worship styles that are different from my preferences. What about you? Are you willing to respect the views of fellow believers that don’t align exactly with yours?
  • Critical or Judgmental Spirit. In Rembrandt’s painting, the elder brother is standing on a platform, elevated above his father and repentant younger brother. He looks down with a condemning spirit. Keller states that elder brothers have an unforgiving, judgmental spirit. Unfortunately, I find that I too often have a critical or judgmental spirit. This is something that I have to continually hold myself accountable for.
  • Duty and Compliance over Joy. Keller states that another sign of those with an elder brother spirit is joyless, fear-based compliance. He tells us that the elder brother shows that his obedience to his father is nothing but duty. There is no joy or love, and no reward in just seeing his father pleased. The elder brother is a perfect emblem for the Pharisees. He had no appreciation for grace because he thought he didn’t need it. Elder brothers live good lives out of fear, not out of joy and love. Notice in the three parables in Luke 15 that something was lost, something was found, and friends, neighbors and family are called together to celebrate and rejoice.
    I am a very compliant and obedient person. One of my top five Strengthsfinder themes is responsibility.  At times, I have to check my motivation for doing things. For example, why do I read the Bible each day? Is it a duty, or do I do it to learn more about God, so that I can love Him more?  Do you also at times struggle with compliance and duty over joy?I don’t want to be the elder brother, but unfortunately, at times I display some of his traits.  Do you find that you do so as well?


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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS


Andy Mineo and Wordsplayed Present Magic & Bird
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Andy Mineo returns with his first new album (mixtape) since 2015’s excellent Uncomfortable. The album debuted at #2 on iTunes Albums chart and #1 on their Hip-Hop/Rap chart. On this release, he teams up with good friend Wordsplayed (as Magic and Bird), the son of Nigerian immigrants who came to the United States in the early 1980’s and met Mineo in 2008. This playful and basketball themed release is a perfect summer listen, and builds on their 2015 single “Lay Up”, which is included here as a bonus track. Along with BEAM, the release includes production from GAWVI and !llmind, who also produced Uncomfortable.

Below are a few brief comments on each song: 
Hi-Five –  A short introductory track, mostly speaking.
KIDZ –  The song was produced by Tyshane and Daniel Jordan. It was written by Tyshane, Jordan, Wordsplayed and Mineo.  This was the first release from the new album. The bridge contains a brief piece reminiscent of the Doxology.
Key lyric:
I’m in the pocket like Brady,
Magic and Bird like the 80’s
Kobe, I might put up eighty
Look only Jesus can save me

Dunk Contest –  This song was produced by Young Sidechain and Beam, and was written by Wordsplayed and Mineo. It was the second single to be released from the album. The two trade lines about basketball, cities, single moms, etc.
Key lyric:
Yeah, so shout out all the single mothers
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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS


The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile. IVP Books. 241 pages. 2016
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I’m a big proponent of personality assessments, and have utilized several in the workplace, such as Myers-Briggs, Strengthsfinder and StandOut. I always find out more about myself and others through these tools. While many in my church have been proponents of the Enneagram for years, I really didn’t know anything about it. I found this book to be an excellent introduction to the Enneagram.
The authors of this book provide a brief history of the Enneagram, which some believe dates back to the 4th century. Among other callings, Ian Morgan Cron is an Enneagram teacher. Some of the material in the book comes from the lectures of co-author Suzanne Stabile, a master teacher of the Enneagram.
The Enneagram includes nine personality types or numbers that are grouped into three triads (anger, feeling, fear). Each type has a dynamic relationship with four other types, touching the two on either side (wing numbers), as well as two on other side of arrows.
Each type has one of the seven deadly sins attached to it. No types are better than any other. All have strengths and weaknesses. Your curse is the flipside of your blessing. For each type, your gift is also your curse. Your number is not what you do, but why you do it. The Enneagram takes into account the fluid nature of our personality. It is intended to help us on the journey back to our true selves.
The book covers each of the types, not in numerical order, but within its triad. As each type is covered, healthy and unhealthy examples of that type are given. Challenges for that type are given, as well as the go-to emotion for the type, and what the type looked like as a child. They also look at the type in relationships and at work, and address how each type handles stress and security. We are told how the “wing numbers” impact each type, and that each type has a signature communication style. For each type, examples from history are listed. The Enneagram takes into account the fluid nature of our personality. It is intended to help us on the journey back to our true selves.
As I heard about each type, I tried to figure out which one I was, as well as friends, family and colleagues at work. I tested as a “3 – The Performer”. The authors state that America is a country of “3’s”. They tell us to look for the type that describes who you currently are, not what you want to be.
I enjoyed sharing information about the book and the Enneagram test with team members at work and my family. We plan to do a debrief as a family on our upcoming vacation.
The book includes helpful stories that illustrate the points. A helpful “Spiritual Transformation” section is included at the end of each chapter.
For more information about the book, check out its official site, and their podcast, which is available on iTunes.

  • From Weakness to Strength: 8 Vulnerabilities That Can Bring Out the Best in Your Leadership. I’m looking forward to this new book from Scott Sauls, to be published October 1.
  • The Vanishing American Adult – Book Review.Eric Davis reviews Ben Sasse’s new book The Vanishing America Adult. He writes “I heartily recommend the book to parents and non-parents; to democrats and republicans, and anyone who wants to think intelligently and tangibly about raising a generation better than ours.”
  • The Mythical Leader: 7 Myths of Leadership. Skip Prichard interviews Ron Edmondson (one of my favorite leadership bloggers) about his excellent new book The Mythical Leader.
  • One More Time on Game of Thrones. Kevin DeYoung writes “I cannot imagine how anyone growing closer to the God of the Bible will want to see more sex and nudity, or that anyone has found shows like Game of Thronesto be a serious blessing in seeing and savoring Christ. We become what we behold. So let’s be careful little eyes what we see.”
  • Do You Read the Bible Like a Nonbeliever? John Piper writes “The most basic prayer we can pray about reading the Bible is that God would give us the desire to read this book. Not just the will— that would be next best — but the desire.

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THIS & THAT and Favorite Quotes of the Week

TO MAKE YOU SMILE:

  • New Service Replaces ‘Game Of Thrones’ Sex Scenes With Glaring Kevin DeYoung.The Babylon Bee reports “Just as believers are settling in to enjoy the show’s intricate plot and wide range of morally gray characters, the Reformed reverend will suddenly pop up on the screen and shake his head in disappointment at the viewer at all of the numerous points where the show would usually feature a graphic sexual act.”
  • Dying Eagles Fan Uses His Final Wishes to Rip the Team. Jeffrey Clayton Riegel, a New Jersey man died recently. He took the opportunity of his obituary to take one final shot at the Philadelphia Eagles. “God gave Jeffrey the miracle of time to prepare which allowed him to verbalize his last wishes. He requested to have 8 Philadelphia Eagles as pall bearers so the Eagles can let him down one last time.”

Doug Michael’s Cartoon of the Week

IN THE NEWS:

  • St. Louis’s Unholy War on Religious Liberty. Nathanial Blake writes about an ordinance passed in St. Louis, Missouri which prohibits discrimination in housing or employment on the basis of “reproductive health decisions.” Promoted as an anti-discrimination measure, the law’s actual purpose is to destroy the self-government of religious and pro-life organizations.
  • Why North Koreans are rejecting Kim Jong-un and turning to Christ. Andrew Hamilton-Thomas writes of a report in the Telegraphthat claims a growing number of North Koreans are rejecting Kim Jong-un as their god and are now more open to alternative belief systems, including Christianity.”
  • Throwing Stones at the Glass Castle.  Lore Ferguson Wilbert writes about the new film The Glass Castle “The beauty of The Glass Castle is not that it ends too neatly, but that it ends messily and complicated, just as life is. We want clear delineations and boundaries and decisive clarity on whether folks are in or out, but life is not like that.”
  • Google on Abortion: 3 Fresh Ways to Make the Case for Life. Trevin Wax writes “Always be on the lookout for new ways to make the case for life. Stephanie Gray’s talk at Google is a great example of how to ask questions, probe deeper into people’s assumptions, and lead people to understand why you uphold the dignity and worth of every human life.”
  • James Kennedy Ministries Sues SPLC over Hate Map. Kate Shellnutt writes “We do not hate anyone,” Wright wrote. “We have been falsely branded by the SPLC for nothing more than subscribing to the teachings of the historic Christian faith. We are a nonprofit ministry whose deeply held Christian convictions energize our mission to faithfully proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Courtesy of World Magazine

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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Links to Interesting Articles

  • God The Great Janitor? Jim Mullins shares four of the main ways that janitors, and people with similar occupations, display the actions and attributes of God through their work.
  • How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge, Part 2. In this episode of the Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast, Stanley concludes his conversation with Clay Scroggins abouthow to leverage influence when you lack authority.
  • 2017 NFL Hall of Fame Leadership Quotes and Lessons from Kurt Warner. Kurt Warner was my favorite NFL player. A great example of someone integrating their faith and work. I’m thankful to Brian Dodd for capturing these quotes from Warner’s Hall of Fame speech.
  • Giving Servant Leadership the Works:  An Interview with Ken Melrose.In this interview, The High Calling talks to Ken Melrose, former CEO of the Toro Company, about how faith informs work and vice versa.
  • Luther on Vocation: Michael Horton. In this episode of the 5 Minutes in Church History podcast, Steven Nichols visits with Michael Horton about Martin Luther and the doctrine of vocation.
  • Peter: The Submissive Leader. John MacArthur writes “Character is absolutely critical in leadership. America’s current moral decline is directly linked to the fact that we have elected, appointed, and hired too many leaders who have no character.”
  • Cultivated Podcast. Check out this new podcast on faith and work. Enjoy interviews with Steve Taylor, Andy Crouch, Propaganda and others.
  • Do You See Work as a Platform or a Prison? Chris Patton writes “Too many Christians see their work as a prison.  It is a required part of their week, but it is not something they enjoy.  When asked for their reasons, the answers vary, but there is a recurring theme. Most view their work as a necessary evil instead of a source of joy and an opportunity for impact.  Very few would consider their work as a platform.”

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THIS & THAT and Favorite Quotes of the Week

Doug Michael’s Cartoon of the Week

  • 8 Ways to Help Depressed Christians. David Murray writes “Many of us struggle with what to do when someone we know is depressed. We want to help but fear, confusion, or misunderstanding holds us back. So, let me suggest eight guidelines for helping depressed people.”
  • Should Christians Cremate Their Loved Ones? John Piper writes “My proposal in this article is that Christian churches be willing to help families financially with simple, Christ-exalting funerals and burials, so that no Christian is drawn to cremation because it’s cheaper.”
  • Please Stop Saying “Christianity Isn’t a Religion, It’s a Relationship. Kevin Halloran writes “The next time you’re tempted to say, “Christianity isn’t a religion, it’s a relationship”—hold your tongue. You’re not only wrong, you may sound dumb3, and will miss a chance to share what you wanted to communicate all along.”
  • Accept Your Leadership.Tim Challies writes “Your family needs to be led. Your wife and children need you to be the leader God calls you to be. He calls you to lead in love, to study the life and character of Jesus Christ, and to imitate him. Do that and God will be pleased. Do that and your family will be blessed. Run to win by accepting and embracing your leadership.”
  • The Knee-Buckling Weight of God’s Grace. Scotty Smith prays “Since you gave Jesus to usand for us, of course we can trust you for everything else we actually need. Forgive for thinking otherwise. Forgive our discontent, envy and unbelief.”
  • How Do We Fail in Bible Reading? Watch this four-minute video from John Piper.
  • The 11 Beliefs You Should Know about Jehovah’s Witnesses When They Knock at the Door. Justin Taylor writes “The following is a brief overview of what Jehovah’s Witnesses believe, along with what the Bible really teaches, printed among the many articles and resources in the back of the ESV Study Bible.
  • The Death Knell on Legalism. Watch this less than two-minute video clip from the 2017 Ligonier National Conference in which John MacArthur explains that Jesus’ teaching of the new birth in John 3 is the death knell on legalism.
  • How Do You Do Family Worship? In this episode of “Honest Answers, Don Whitney states that “Three syllables is all you have to remember, read, pray, sing.” Watch the six-minute video.
  • Don’t Check Your Baggage. Marshall Segal writes “Someone you know — someone struggling with the same sins you once committed against God — needs to hear what God has done for you.”
  • Don’t Waste Your Commute. Having just visited my team in Atlanta, I was reminded that some folks have significant commutes to and from work each day. Nick Batzig writes “Here are four very tangible things that we can work toward as we attempt to redeem the time on our commutes.”
  • A Surprising Ingredient in Christian Contentment. Erik Raymond writes “Initially unsettling and frankly a bit off-putting, a robust doctrine of sin is an essential ingredient for our contentment.”
  • A Pilot Explains What It Really Means When There’s Turbulence During a Flight. I enjoy the benefits of air travel, but I’m certainly not a fan of turbulence. I found this article from Patrick Smith, a commercial airline pilot who currently flies Boeing 757 and 767 aircraft, to be both interesting and comforting.

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