Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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What We Can Learn from “For a Continuing Church: The Roots of the Presbyterian Church in America”

As an elder in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), I’d been wanting to read Sean Michael Lucas’ book For a Continuing Church: The Roots of the Presbyterian Church in America for some time. Like much of history, the story of the Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUS) is filled with items (particularly racism), that are now embarrassing and regretful. The southern Presbyterian denomination, existed from 1861 to 1983, and was the conservative Presbyterian denomination, as opposed to the liberal northern Presbyterian denomination, known as the Presbyterian Church in the United States of American (PCUSA).
Lucas’ book is detailed, thorough, and heavily footnoted. It’s certainly not light reading. If I were to briefly summarize the story, as early as the 1920’s, a progressive element of the PCUS was starting to take shape. The progressives were spreading their message through the churches, seminaries and publications. This message included a move away from the Biblical authority (inerrancy, for example), to a social gospel, a lower view of the confessional standards of the church (Westminster Confession), evolution, women’s ordination, universalism, secularism, etc. The overall goal of the progressives was a reunion with the northern church. Continue reading

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BOOK REVIEWS

Book Reviews
The Generosity Factor: Discover the Joy of Giving Your Time, Talent, and Treasure by Ken Blanchard and Truett Cathy. Zondervan. 138 pages. 2009
****

This book, about stewardship and the joy we can find in giving, is written like most of Ken Blanchard’s books, communicating his messages through a leadership fable. Blanchard wrote the book with Truett Cathy. Those familiar with the life of the Chick Fil-A founder will recognize many things in the book that point to his life and the culture of Chick Fil-A.
In the book, we are introduced to a few primary characters. First, we meet the Broker, a young man who has a successful online brokerage house. But he rejected his father’s attempts to instill an old-fashioned work ethic in him. He is disgusted by an unkempt Bag Lady who he sees daily outside of his high-rise, eventually calling the police on her.
We also meet the Broker’s Driver, who served time as a young man, but benefitted significantly from the Teacher, who poured her life into the young men in the institution. As a result, today the Driver is known as a gentle, caring man, a father and husband.
We are introduced to the Executive, who built a multi-state chain of auto parts and service centers from a simple idea in a single location. He now has more than eight hundred auto service centers and parts outlets scattered throughout the southwestern United States.

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More of this review… and reviews of the books…
**Everybody, Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People by Bob Goff
**In the Year of Our Lord: Reflections on Twenty Centuries of Church History by Sinclair B. Ferguson
See What I’M CURRENTLY READING…. Continue reading


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BOOK REVIEW: “BET ON TALENT” BY DEE ANN TURNER

Bet on Talent: How to Create a Remarkable Culture That Wins the Hearts of Customers by Dee Ann Turner. Baker Books. 213 pages. 2019
****

I have often said that there is no organizational culture that I respect more than that of Chick Fil-A. Over her thirty years at Chick Fil-A, Dee Ann Turner had a lot to do with their remarkable culture. In this helpful book, Turner shares both principles and stories. She shares the principles she learned, practiced, and taught about creating and growing a remarkable culture and selecting and developing extraordinary talent in her role as vice president of human resources and later vice president of Talent at Chick-fil-A. She shares stories about how people working in remarkable cultures can build brand loyalty by providing remarkable customer experiences, and gives you practical steps to follow to grow a remarkable culture in your organization. Continue reading


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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS


The Mighty Weakness of John Knox by Douglas Bond. Reformation Trust. 138 pages. 2011

****

While in Edinburgh, Scotland recently, we visited St. Giles Cathedral, and parking space 23, which marks the spot of John Knox’s grave. I was sickened to see a tour guide defaming Knox, dancing on his grave and encouraging his tour group to do the same. He called Knox an anti-Semite and misogynist. What could cause such behavior about someone I consider a hero?
In this book from the Long Line of Godly Men series, Douglas Bond writes that critics have found much in Knox to attack. Like the prophets of old, Knox was hated and feared by some, and honored and respected by others. He was not unaware that even in his own day that he was perceived as a thunderbolt, uncharitable and severe. In addition, Bond tells us that it is fair to say that much of the enduring hostility toward Knox is rooted in his doctrine of predestination. The English Parliament condemned Knox’s books to public burning 140 years after his death, and for the most part, Scotland has resented the life and ministry of Knox.
But Bond tells us that Knox is a model for the ordinary Christian, especially the one who feels his own weakness, but who nevertheless wants to serve Christ in a troubled world. Christ was at the center of every dimension of his life. It is this, and this alone, that made Knox mighty in his weakness.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review… and reviews of ~
~ Maturity: Growing Up and Going On in the Christian Life by Sinclair Ferguson
~ God, Greed, and the (Prosperity) Gospel: How Truth Overwhelms a Life Built on Lies by Costi Hinn
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


The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism by Jemar Tisby. Zondervan. 256 pages. 2019
****

This was a difficult book to read, as it should be. In his “Foreword”, Lecrae writes that the author challenges us to take history seriously and account for it. He warns us that the account we are about to read is sobering and challenging. I would add to this that it is heart-breaking. I believe that it is an account that all Christians should read, especially Christian leaders. It is a well-researched survey of racism in America, what the author refers to as more than 300 years of race-based discrimination. The author tells us that this history of racism and the church shows that the story is worse than most imagine. He states that the stories in the book tell the tale of racial oppression. It is up to the reader to determine whether the weight of historical evidence proves that the American church has been complicit with racism.  Although the entire history is essential to know, I focused on the author’s emphasis, that is, the role of the church in racism.
The author focus is primarily on Protestant churches, and when he talks about the “Religious Right”, he focuses on those white evangelicals that align with the Republican party. The book focuses on prominent figures, precipitous events, and well-known turning points in American history. He writes that, historically speaking, when faced with the choice between racism and equality, the American church has tended to practice a complicit Christianity rather than a courageous Christianity. Even if only a small portion of Christians committed the most notorious acts of racism, many more white Christians can be described as being complicit in creating and sustaining a racist society. Christians deliberately chose complicity with racism in the past, but the choice to confront racism remains a possibility today. The book is a call to abandon complicit Christianity and move toward courageous Christianity. The author tells us that it is time to practice courageous Christianity.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review…And reviews of Seven Leaders: Preachers and Pastors by Iain H. Murray, and How Can I Be Blessed? (Crucial Questions No. 24) by R.C. Sproul
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


Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God by Timothy Keller. Penguin Books. 332 pages. 2014.
****

This is perhaps the best book on prayer that I’ve read, and I’ve read several. I’ve already read and discussed it with others on two occasions. Our discussions would move slowly, as there is so much rich material on prayer in the fifteen chapters in this book. This book will challenge you and your prayer life.
Keller writes that prayer is both conversation and encounter with God. He tells us that these two concepts give us definition of prayer and a set of tools for deepening our prayer lives. He tells us that prayer is both awe and intimacy, struggle and reality. These will not happen every time we pray, but each should be a major component of our prayer over the course of our lives.
He writes of wanting a far better personal prayer life. As a result, he began to read widely and experiment in prayer. In his pursuit of a deeper prayer life, he deliberately avoided reading any new books on prayer. Instead, he went back to the historical texts of Christian theology that had formed him and began asking questions about prayer and the experience of God.
In addition, he made four practical changes to his life of private devotion. First, he took several months to go through the Psalms, summarizing each one. The second thing he did was always to put in a time of meditation as a transitional discipline between his Bible reading and his time of prayer. Third, he did all he could to pray morning and evening rather than only in the morning. Fourth, he began praying with greater expectation.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review and a review of Embracing Your Identity in Christ: Renouncing Lies and Foolish Strategies by Robert Davis Smart
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

Unplanned: The Dramatic True Story of a Former Planned Parenthood Leader’s Eye-Opening Journey across the Life Line by Abby Johnson with Cindy Lambert. Tyndale Momentum. 276 pages. 2014 edition
****

This is the book upon which the powerful film Unplanned is based. Abby Johnson begins by telling us that her story is not a comfortable one to read. It’s not a comfortable one, but it’s honest and true. The film follows the book pretty closely, but as always, a book can give you much more of the story than can a two-hour film. So even if you have seen the film Unplanned, I would recommend that you still read this book.
The book takes us through Abby’s story from being recruited as a volunteer by Planned Parenthood while a junior on the Texas A&M campus through rising to the position of director of the Planned Parenthood clinic in Bryan, Texas. She was attracted to Planned Parenthood believing that its purpose was primarily to prevent unwanted pregnancies, thereby reducing the number of abortions. That had been her goal. She wanted to help women in crisis.
The book begins with Abby’s own crisis moment in September, 2009, when she was called into the exam room to help the medical team with an abortion. Though she had been with Planned Parenthood for eight years, she had never been in the room when an abortion had taken place until that time. Those ten minutes would shake the foundation of her values, and change the course of her life. She realized that what she had told people for years, what she had believed and taught and defended, was a lie.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review… and reviews of “How to Ruin Your Life: and Starting Over When You Do” by Eric Geiger, and “The Prodigal Son: An Astonishing Study of the Parable Jesus Told to Unveil God’s Grace for You” by John F. MacArthur
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur
I’M CURRENTLY READING….

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