Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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My Summer Reading Plan

I love to read, and enjoy books in a variety of genres – theology, Christian living, biography, leadership, professional and personal development, sports, etc. Here are the books I’m planning to read this summer along with a short synopsis of each:

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My Favorite Bob Goff Quotes

I’m not sure how I first heard about Bob Goff. Perhaps someone I follow on Twitter had posted one of his quotes, or a friend told me about one of his books that they had read, or perhaps I just saw his books on the best sellers list. Something prompted me to pick up his second book Everybody, Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult. I read it in just a few days, really enjoyed it, and as soon as I finished it, I immediately downloaded his first book Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World. If you enjoy audiobooks, you might like to listen to those books, which are read well by Bob. Later, I read the children’s book he wrote with his daughter, Love Does for Kids, and I have also had the opportunity to hear Bob speak.

Bob’s books are outside of the genre that I normally read, but I really appreciate him and his message. He is very quotable, so I wanted to take this opportunity to share my favorite quotes from his three books. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. Continue reading


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Announcing the Release of My Book “Called to Lead: Living and Leading for Jesus in the Workplace”

I’m excited to announce that my book Called to Lead: Living and Leading for Jesus in the Workplace is available now on Amazon. The book is available in the Kindle edition, and can be read on Kindle Fire devices and on Kindle Reading Apps. The book is free on Kindle Unlimited and available on the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. We are working on an update to make it available on all Kindle devices and to activate the links in the book. If you read the book and would like access to the links now, please contact me and I’ll send them to you.
The book looks at calling, vocation, the integration of faith and work and leadership, and ends with some information that will be helpful specifically for church leaders. It includes lessons I’ve learned from more than 40 years of leading in the workplace and at church.
Here is a brief summary of what is in the book:
In Chapter 1 I take you on my faith and work journey.
In Chapter 2-4, I share what the Bible says about work, calling and what I learned about integrating my faith and work as a leader.
In Chapters 5-9, I talk about being called to be a leader and practical applications of living and leading for Jesus in the workplace, which includes meetings, communication, listening, goal setting, leading large teams and challenges in
leadership. There are also tips on how to care for others and develop future leaders.
In Chapter 10 I look at finishing well in our callings and also the idea of retirement for the Christian.
In Chapter 11, I share a few suggestions for church leaders on how they can help those under their care see that God values their work and callings.
In Chapter 12 I share some leadership lessons from the Bible.
Chapters 13-16 include thoughts for developing leaders inside and outside of the church, as well as practical advice on effective planning in the church, as well as reasons why your church should establish a personnel structure.
While the book has been written primarily for Christians, in both the general marketplace and the church, I hope that there will be some helpful takeaways for everyone. Go to this page in the Amazon Kindle Store to view a free chapter in the book and/or purchase it. If you read the book, please let me know what you think of it. Thanks.

https://www.amazon.com/author/billpence


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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS


The Range Bucket List: The Golf Adventure of a Lifetime by James Dodson. Simon & Schuster, 321 pages. 2017
****

James Dodson is my favorite golf writer. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed his previous golf books, and had been meaning to read this one, which he says is his “little love letter to the game of golf”, for some time now. He tells us about recently finding a small old notebook of his that contained a list of eleven “Things to Do in Golf.” From there, he developed his “Range Bucket List”, populated with things he still hoped to do in golf.
The book is filled with the joys and sorrows he experiences on his journey, as he tries to tie up some loose ends, completing a personal circle of sorts. He writes of a friend telling him that the game of golf is always waiting for us to return.
We read about his trip with his father to England and Scotland, working with Arnold Palmer as they wrote Palmer’s autobiography – the two most challenging and enjoyable years of his book writing life, and the start of a friendship he could never have imagined as a kid – and then later sharing his emotional last visit with Palmer before he died. We get introduced to his new wife Wendy, or his “golf wife” as he took to calling her. He writes of living in Pinehurst, his strange encounter with Donald Trump, and the story behind how CBS got the TV contract for the Masters tournament. You’ll read about Opti the Mystic (his father), living One-Derr, Grumpy, Glorious Goat Farms, and so much more.
I thoroughly enjoyed this delightful book. It is one of those books that you hate to see end.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
BOOK REVIEWS ~ A Shelter in the Time of Storm: Meditations on God and Trouble by Paul Tripp and The Apostles’ Creed: Discovering Authentic Christianity in an Age of Counterfeits by Albert Mohler
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur
I’M CURRENTLY READING…. Continue reading


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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

A Gentle Answer: Our ‘Secret Weapon’ in an Age of Us Against Them by Scott Sauls. Thomas Nelson. 224 pages. 2020
****

A Gentle Answer is Scott Sauls’ fifth book. I’ve read them all, and been both blessed and challenged by them. In this timely book, he tells us that whatever the subject may be—politics, sexuality, immigration, income gaps, women’s concerns, race, or any other social matters over which people have differences—angst, suspicion, outrage, and outright hate increasingly shape our response to the world around us. He states that this feels like a culture of suspicion, mistrust, and us-against-them. On the other hand, Jesus is a God of reconciliation and peace, not a God of hate or division or us-against-them. He is the God of the gentle answer. Jesus renounced outrage and advanced the power of a gentle answer throughout his ministry.
The author tells us that in our current cultural moment, outrage has become more expected than surprising, more normative than odd, more encouraged than discouraged, more rewarded than rejected. We form entire communities around our irritations and our hatreds. For our generation, hate has been commodified. It has been turned into an asset. His challenge to us is to decide whether we take offense and strike back, or instead, do we seek to extend kindness and offer a gentle answer? His hope is that because Jesus Christ offered a gentle answer instead of pouring out punishment and rejection for our offensive and sinful ways, we can offer gentle answers to those who behave offensively and sinfully toward us.
The book aims to answer the question, “What must happen in and around us so that we become the kind of people who offer a gentle answer?” The book is as much about what must happen to us and inside us (how to be angry and not sin, how to accept criticism, not to seek retaliation, etc.), as it is about what must be done by us to engage faithfully in a world of us-against-them.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review and reviews of Can Science Explain Everything? by John Lennox and Have No Fear: Being Salt and Light Even When It’s Costly by John C. Lennox
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur
I’M CURRENTLY READING…. Continue reading


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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS


Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success by Phil Jackson. Penguin Books. 386 pages. 2013
****

I read this book when it was first published in 2013, and decided to read it again as I watched ESPN’s excellent documentary on Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, The Last Dance. I read the book this time specifically to examine Jackson’s leadership, as he describes the eleven NBA Championships (rings) he won as the Head Coach of the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers.
Jackson has been incredibly successful in professional basketball, winning two NBA Championships as a player with the New York Knicks, six as the Head Coach of the Chicago Bulls and five as the Head Coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. The book includes some biographical information and takes us through his career as a player, coach and as the book ends, his at that time new role as the President of the New York Knicks, the one role in his career that he was not successful in. He played his college basketball at the University of North Dakota, where he was coached by future NBA Head Coaches Bill Fitch and Jimmy Rodgers. In a bit of trivia, way back in March, 1967, Jackson and North Dakota played in the NCAA College Division Midwest Regional Tournament at Horton Field House, hosted by Illinois State University, just down the street from where I live in my hometown of Normal, Illinois.
Jackson was raised by parents who were both pastors, but he describes his childhood as a time when he was “force-fed religious dogma by my parents” who were both Pentecostal ministers. As an adult, he began to search for spiritual practices that might work for him. In the book, he refers to his “deep-seated aversion to organized religion”. He speaks extensively in the book about Zen Buddhism, quoting teachers, and discussing aspects of Zen have been critical to him as a leader.
Regarding his leadership, Jackson points to the book Tribal Leadership, by Dave Logan, John King, and Halee Fischer-Wright, which lays out five stages of tribal development, which they formulated after conducting extensive research on small to midsize organizations. In order to shift a culture from one stage to the next, Jackson tells us that you need to find the levers that are appropriate for that particular stage in the group’s development. Throughout the book, Jackson refers to his various teams and the tribal development stages they were in at the time.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review and a review of Final Word: Why We Need the Bible by John MacArthur
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur
I’M CURRENTLY READING…. Continue reading


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CURIOSITY: THE ANTIDOTE TO CYNICISM

Pastor and author Carey Nieuwhof tells us that his book Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the Seven Greatest Challenges That No One Expects and Everyone Experiences (see my review here) is for people who want to see the signs that there’s a major life challenge ahead before it’s too late. The signs he looks at exist for all of us, no matter what stage of life’s journey we might be on. He tells us that none of these signs – cynicism, compromise, disconnection, irrelevance, pride, burnout, emptiness— need to be our final story, but we can see them coming. He tells us that if we regularly do what we were created to do, the likelihood of growing cynical, disconnected, proud, or irrelevant diminishes.

I found his chapter on cynicism particularly interesting. To start, let’s define what is meant by cynicism. Nieuwhof states that cynicism is simply the general distrust of others or a lack of hope in people or their desires. At its worst, it becomes jaded negativity, skepticism, contempt or scorn.

I’ve never really considered myself to be a cynical person. What about you, do you consider yourself cynical? Take a few minutes to take Nieuwhof’s Cynicism Quiz to see how cynical you are. Continue reading


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Servant Leadership: Leading Like Jesus, Part 3

In the first part of our three-part series, we looked at my takeaways from the book Lead Like Jesus: Lessons from the Greatest Leadership Role Model of All Time by Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges. In part two, we looked at my takeaways from a few other books on servant leadership that I would commend to you, and in this third part, I’ll look at my takeaways from a few more books. Continue reading


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Servant Leadership: Leading Like Jesus, Part 2

In the first part of our series, we looked at my servant leadership takeaways from the book Lead Like Jesus: Lessons from the Greatest Leadership Role Model of All Time by Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges. Now I want to look at my takeaways from three books on servant leadership that I would commend to you. Continue reading


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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS


Coronavirus and Christ by John Piper. Crossway. 112 pages. 2020
****

John Piper has written this book as the world is facing the global pandemic known as the coronavirus, or technically, “coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated COVID-19). The short book has two main parts:

Part 1: The God Who Reigns over the Coronavirus
Part 2: What Is God Doing through the Coronavirus?

In Part 1, he writes that rather than playing the odds (that we don’t get the virus, suffer and possibly die), there is a better place to put our hope. We can stand on the Rock of certainty, rather than the sand of probabilities. That Rock is not fragile, nor is it sand. This book is the author’s invitation for the reader to join him on the solid Rock, Jesus Christ. His aim is to show why God in Christ is the Rock at this moment in history—in this pandemic of the coronavirus—and what it is like to stand on his mighty love. His prayer is that all who read this book would share the experience of the prophet Jeremiah: “Your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart” (Jer. 15:16).
He writes that the same sovereignty that could stop the coronavirus, yet doesn’t, is the very sovereignty that sustains the soul in it. God is all-governing and all-wise. He is sovereign over the coronavirus. He tells us that saying that God is all-governing means he is sovereign. His sovereignty means that he can do, and in fact does do, all that he decisively wills to do. When he decides for a thing to happen, it happens. Everything happens because God wills it to happen. The sovereignty of God is all-encompassing and all-pervasive. He holds absolute sway over this world.
He tells us that the coronavirus was sent by God. This is not a season for sentimental views of God. It is a bitter season. And God ordained it. God governs it. He will end it. If he wills, we will live. If not, we won’t. If we try to rescue God from his sovereignty over suffering, we sacrifice his sovereignty to turn all things for good. God is holy and righteous and good. And he is infinitely wise. Nothing surprises him, confuses him, or baffles him.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review and a review of “Where is God in a Coronavirus World?” by John Lennox
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur
I’M CURRENTLY READING…. Continue reading