Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

R.C. Sproul: Defender of the Reformed Faith by Nate Pickowicz. H&E Publishing. 140 pages. 2022 
****

In this warmly written and concise biography of R.C. Sproul, pastor and author Nate Pickowicz shares an appreciation that many of us have for the life and ministry of R.C. Sproul, who went home to be with the Lord in December, 2017. He writes that Sproul’s five decades of ministry loosely reflected the five solas of the Reformation.
The author focuses primarily on Sproul’s public ministry, quoting liberally from Sproul’s books and on his defense of the faith. Each chapter begins with a quote from Sproul.
The author’s fast-moving biography tells us that Sproul knew at 13 years of age that he would marry Vesta Voorhis. They would marry in 1960. He writes of Sproul’s father’s multiple strokes and death, telling us that it would be his father’s suffering that would drive him into the arms of the Suffering Savior, writing about his conversion in his dormitory room in 1957.

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BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review…
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ Providence by John Piper
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40 More Great Quotes from The Leader’s Greatest Return: Attracting, Developing, and Multiplying Leaders by John Maxwell

If you are a leader, I highly recommend that you read this book –The Leader’s Greatest Return: Attracting, Developing, and Multiplying Leaders by John Maxwell. You can read my review of this book and his other books here.

Here are 40 more great quotes from the book.

  • If you want to be an effective leader, you must make learning by listening a top priority every day.
  • You can never get the best out of people if you don’t know who they are, where they want to go, what they care about, how they think, and how they want to contribute. You can learn those things only if you listen.
  • When you know why you’ve been put on this earth and you know what you need to be doing, you don’t need anyone to motivate you. Your purpose inspires you every day.

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The Babylon Bee Guide to Democracy by The Babylon Bee


The Babylon Bee Guide to Democracy by The Babylon Bee. Salem Books. 256 pages. 2022
#guidetodemocracy
****

The latest of The Babylon Bee Guides is The Babylon Bee Guide to Democracy. It is a hilarious look at all aspects of our democracy, from the founding of our nation to how our money is spent by the government. The book is essentially a graphic novel that had me laughing all the way through it. It is dedicated to “the one true president Donald J. Trump, long may he reign”.
The book begins by looking at some of the different forms of government used throughout history and the origin story of our democracy (technically a constitutional republic). According to historical fact, in answer to a prayer from George Washington in the late 1700’s, God handed down his chosen form of government: DEMOCRACY.
The book then humorously looks at how democracy works by reviewing the branches of the government, including the Corporate Branch, which writes the laws and hands them off to Congress for a quick sign-off. We are told that every branch is sacred and worthy of our respect.

The book then turns to the centerpiece of democracy – elections – and how to participate in them to make sure our votes are counted. For example, if you are a Calvinist, blindfold yourself and vote for random people to place it all in God’s hands.
We read of George Washington’s foundations (he was a child named Kirin-El sent to Earth from a doomed planet in another galaxy to Mary and Augustine Washington), the “completely true” story of the Revolutionary War and a closer look at the Founding Fathers. For example, John Hancock was the inventor of the signature and cousin to Herbie.
We read that there is nothing so important in our identity as our political party. It is the most significant thing about us, and we are given a flowchart to help us determine what party we are.
The book does a deep-dive on the legislative, executive, judicial, and corporate branches of government, and provides a handy list of your constitutional rights (including some “lesser-known” rights).
We are told that experts have found that every election that we participate in is the most important election in the history of the universe and that if our side loses, it is the end of democracy as we know it. We are told how to rig an election so that we can win every time. If we win, it was the fairest election in the history of the world. If we lose, it was the most rigged and unfair election ever held in the history of the universe.
The important thing to remember about the Electoral College is that it is racist and anti-democratic, unless our side wins the election. Then, it is fair and balanced and a bastion of true democracy in the world.
We read about insurrections and mostly peaceful protests, how to tell the difference between the two, and how to destroy those who disagree with you – including how to win an argument on social media, and how to own your relatives at Thanksgiving dinner. We read about the government’s relationship with money, and that the government doesn’t make any money so it has to take yours by force.
The book includes a helpful glossary. A few of my favorite definitions are:

  • CNN – The nation’s most popular, reliable, and trustworthy satire site.
  • Separation of Church and State. An important legal principle designed to prevent the worship of God from interfering with the worship of government.
  • Undocumented Immigrant – A Democratic voter.

Like any good book, each chapter has a helpful “Chapter Review” with probing questions. Some of my favorite questions were:

  • What’s the Revolutionary War going on in your life now? Give it to God.
  • Is Jesus Christ the founding father in your life? Why not?
  • Can you identify the bureaucracy in your life? Ask God to break those chains right now.
  • Which one of these amendments personally spoke to your heart? Why?
  • What is the election in your life that you need to focus on?
  • Are you more of an insurrectionist or a peaceful protestor?

This creative book is full of the type of satirical humor that you expect from The Babylon Bee.  Highly recommended for those who could use a laugh.


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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

What Does It Mean That God Is Sovereign? (Crucial Questions) by R.C. Sproul. Ligonier Ministries. 77 pages. 2022
****

This is one of the newest books in R.C. Sproul’s Crucial Questions series, all of which are free in the digital edition. These books/booklets offer clear answers to the most common and difficult questions about the Christian faith. In this volume, Sproul looks at God’s sovereignty over nothing, creation, salvation, human actions and evangelism.
Sproul writes that when we say that God is sovereign, we are saying that His power is supreme in all reality, and no power in heaven or on earth can possibly resist the power of God. He tells us that there are four ways that God is sovereign. He is sovereign over nature. He is sovereign over history and human affairs. And He is sovereign in His inherent right to impose obligations on His creatures, to say to them, “Thou shalt not do this” and “Thou shalt do that.” He writes that God is sovereign, not we ourselves, and His sovereignty extends to all things, not only the creation of the world but the sustaining and governing of the world, and what we describe as the laws of nature only describe the ordinary ways that God in His sovereignty governs nature.
As with all of Sproul’s teaching, he communicates what can be hard to understand subjects in an easy-to-understand manner.

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BOOK CLUB ~ Providence by John Piper
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Tim Keller’s How to Find God Series of Books

Tim Keller published three short books – On Birth, On Marriage and On Death – in his How to Find God series. Tim Keller’s aim in his How to Find God series is to help readers facing major life changes to think about what constitutes the truly changed life. The purpose is to give readers the Christian foundations for life’s most important and profound moments, beginning with birth and baptism, moving into marriage, and concluding with death.

The foundation of the three books is a sermon Keller preached at his wife Kathy’s sister’s funeral in 2018. Here are my reviews of each of the books; On Birth is the first book in the series.


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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

BOOK REVIEW:

Phil: The Rip-Roaring (and Unauthorized!) Biography of Golf’s Most Colorful Superstar by Alan Shipnuck. Avid Reader Press/Simon & Schuster. 256 pages. 2022
***

Alan Shipnuck conducted nearly two hundred interviews for this book (players, caddies, swing coaches, etc.). He only spoke to Phil Mickelson once for the book, and that one call has caused all sorts of problems for Mickelson (his comments about Saudi Arabia and the PGA Tour), which continue to this day.
The author writes that Mickelson, a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, winner of six major championships and 45 PGA Tour wins, tied for eighth all-time, is an enigma. His fans adore “Lefty”, who responds to their cheers with a grin and a “thumbs up”. But his longtime caddy, Jim “Bones” Mackay (who Mickelson owed $900,000), stated “Nobody knows Phil Mickelson. Nobody. I spent twenty-five years standing next to the guy and he’s still a total mystery to me.”
In this book, the author shares both positives (how he has helped other players, his philanthropic work, his generosity with those in the service industry, and his random acts of kindness), and negatives (his ties with men of ill repute, his huge gambling debts – he had gambling losses totaling more than $40 million in the four-year period 2010–14) – and becoming involved in a messy insider-trading case) about Mickelson.3 The author tells us that the book is an attempt to reconcile the multitudes within Mickelson, and help us understand who the real Phil Mickelson is.

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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

Unguarded by Scottie Pippen with Michael Arkush. Atria Books. 303 pages. 2021  
***

Scottie Pippen is one of the greatest players in the history of the National Basketball Association. He is a six-time world champion with the Chicago Bulls and a member of the Hall of Fame. He also won two Gold Medals as a member of the U.S. Olympic Basketball team. I, along with my family, was blessed to see the Bulls play in person many times during their incredible run, even though tickets were incredibly hard to get. It was a very special time in sports, one that I doubt I will ever see again.
Until now, Pippen has not written his autobiography, though his career was certainly worthy of one. After watching the acclaimed 2020 ESPN documentary The Last Dance, (for which teammate Michael Jordan was paid $10 million and no other Bull was paid anything), Pippen decided it was time to tell his story. He writes that there is a great deal in the ESPN documentary that has no business being in there, and also that a great deal that should have been included has been left out. Pippen writes that the documentary failed to give his Hall of Fame career the treatment it deserves. He states that The Last Dance was Jordan’s chance to tell his story, and Unguarded is Pippen’s.

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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

BOOK REVIEW:
All Things Possible: My Story of Faith, Football, and the First Miracle Season by Kurt Warner with Michael Silver. HarperOne. 284 pages. 2013 
****

The recent film American Underdog was based on this 2000 book about the incredible story of Kurt Warner. While I was somewhat disappointed that the film did not emphasize Warner’s Christian faith (read my review of the film here), that is not the case with this book.
The book tells the now well-known story of Warner, from being the starting quarterback at Northern Iowa University only his senior year, not being drafted, playing in the Arena Football league with the Iowa Barnstormers, stocking shelves for minimum wage at Hy-Vee to make ends meet, and playing in NFL Europe with the Amsterdam Admirals. He was eventually signed as a backup quarterback with the St. Louis Rams and when the starter was hurt in the preseason, Warner got the chance he had been waiting years for, and he made the most out of it leading the Rams to the Super Bowl, where Warner was named Most Valuable Player.
Warner’s parents divorced when he was four. He was raised in the Roman Catholic church, and though he doesn’t remember having much passion for his religion back then, he was an altar boy, and went to confession and Sunday school.
The book tells of his meeting his future wife Brenda, then a divorced mother of two, at the Wild E. Coyote bar. It was Brenda who was a Christian at that time, with Kurt becoming a Christian later on.
The book shows how his faith grew to the point that he now wants to be a role model for Christ in everything that he does. He writes that sharing his faith and glorifying Jesus is the central focus of his time on this earth.
I recommend this book for anyone who enjoyed American Underdog, and would like to know more of the Warner’s story.

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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS


The Babylon Bee Guide to Wokeness. Salem Books. 214 pages. 2021
****

If you are tired of all of the wokeness in our culture, this hilarious new book from the folks at The Babylon Bee is for you. On the other hand, if you want to be woke, and thus be on the right side of history, this book is also be for you.
I’ve been a fan of the Christian satire site The Babylon Bee for several years. The book is creative and extremely funny as it looks at wokeness in America (and it doesn’t even touch on our military (perhaps in volume 2), and uses stick figure illustrations throughout.
To give you a flavor of the book, here is their definition of what being woke means:
“Realizing the problems in your life are not your fault. In fact, when you really think about it, nothing is your fault. Blame everyone else for your problems. This is the first step to being woke.”

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BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ Providence by John Piper
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13 New and Upcoming Books You Might Be Interested In 

As we do from time to time, let’s take a brief look at new and upcoming books that you might be interested in. Here are 13 of them, in a variety of genres, from authors such as Bono, Tim Keller, Albert Mohler, Jordan Raynor, Paul Tripp, Bob Dylan, Dane Ortlund and more:

Retiring Well: Strategies for Finding Balance, Setting Priorities, and Glorifying God by John Dunlop MD
Here is the Amazon description for the book:
“What Should Retirement Look Like for a Christian?
Preparation for retirement requires more than just financial planning. For most people, and especially for Christians, it comes with a host of other considerations—when to retire, where to live, and how to spend one’s time. Many find themselves asking, Is there a right way to retire?
Drawing from his work with geriatric patients and his own retirement experience, Dr. John Dunlop shares practical strategies for Christians as they approach their retirement years. With Scripture as his guide, he promotes balance between rest and activity—encouraging intimacy with God, service to churches and communities, time with friends and family, and care for one’s health. Among the uncertainties of major life change, readers will be equipped to make decisions for their future as they seek to glorify God in their retirement. Continue reading