Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

Good News: The Gospel of Jesus Christ by John MacArthur. Reformation Trust Publishing. 143 pages. 2018
****

In this book about Jesus Christ and the Gospel, from one of our most respected pastors and authors, John MacArthur tells us that a right understanding of Jesus Christ is essential to understanding many other vital truths, particularly the gospel and salvation. He tells us that there is no good news apart from Christ, and how we answer the question “Who is Jesus?” has significant and ultimately permanent consequences. The right answer alone can lead to salvation.
The author addresses that there are even those who identify themselves as evangelicals that teach that there is more than one way to get to Heaven. He tells us that today the word evangelical is so ambiguous that it doesn’t really mean anything. A high percentage (between 45 and 65 percent of so-called evangelical Christians), are convinced that Jesus is not the only way to heaven. He writes that a “radically abridged and ambiguous view” of the gospel has captivated the church today. But there is no “back door” to heaven. If we don’t know the true God and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, we will suffer the fury of God. Jesus made it clear to people that they needed to repent and believe.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review and a review of Are People Basically Good? (Crucial Questions Book 25) 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

A Company of Heroes: Portraits from the Gospel’s Global Advance by Tim Keesee. Crossway. 284 pages. 2019
****

The author is the founder and executive director of Frontline Missions International. I’ve enjoyed and appreciated his excellent ten-part video series Dispatches from the Front. Much of this book has the feel of those videos as he travels around the world to visit believers. These believers are heroes to him, and they should be to us as well. They trusted him to tell their stories despite the risks they face as they live on mission in hard places. He has shared jungle paths, desert roads, and city streets on five continents with these believers. They are heroes for the ways in which they magnify the grace and power of the risen Christ. They are foot soldiers in the long campaign as Christ builds his church across the centuries and among all peoples. The author writes that every time he goes to another corner of the world and sees the church growing and the gospel changing lives, his view of God gets bigger.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review and a review of Enjoy Your Prayer Life by Michael Reeves
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


Uncommon Ground: Living Faithfully in a World of Difference, edited by Tim Keller and John Inazu. Thomas Nelson. 237 pages. 2020
***

Books in which a different author writes each chapter can be tricky. You might connect with one author and not another, and that’s just how I found this book. I found myself fully engaged with some chapters, while others were frankly a chore to get through.
I was attracted to the book by the fact that one of the editors, who also wrote a chapter, was Tim Keller, one of my favorite authors, and Lecrae, one of my favorite musical artists, also wrote one of the chapters. Among the contributors, I was also familiar with Sara Groves through her music, and Trillia Newbell through her writing and Tish Harrison Warren, through a book of hers my wife had recently read. The subject of the book caught my attention as we live in a very divided culture, including among those who identify as Christians.

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BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review and reviews of
~     The Big Fella: Babe Ruth and the World He Created by Jane Leavy
~     Ben Hogan: An American Life by James Dodson
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


Epic: An Around-the-World Journey through Christian History by Tim Challies. Zondervan. 175 pages. 2020
****

In this book, Tim Challies shows us a unique way to look at Christian history. Rather than just visiting historical sites, over the course of a year, he chose to focus on objects, key artifacts that had been preserved. His hope in approaching the project in this manner was that by listening to the small stories told by these remnants of Christian history he would begin to understand the larger story and its epic unfolding. In other words, he wanted to “experience” the history of Christianity.
As he planned for the project, which was generously funded for him, he had a few restrictions. First, he wanted to focus on objects rather than locations, buildings, or memorials as we often do when we go to historical sites. Second, he wanted to focus on objects that are available to the general public. In the book, you will read that he found exactly the kind of objects he had wanted to see. He discovered links to the past, historical artifacts he could see and study and sometimes even touch and hold, each telling him (and the reader), a different chapter of a much greater story.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review and reviews of The Ten Commandments of Progressive Christianity by Michael Kruger and A Quiet Strength: The Life and Legacy of Jeannette M. Cathy by Trudy Cathy White
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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Why Not Start a Book Club?


Forming a book club is a great way to enhance the pleasure you get out of reading a good book. I’ve previously written about why you might want to consider starting a Faith and Work Book Club, which I participated in at work the last few years of my career. A Faith and Work Book Club is an excellent way to discuss a book and how to integrate your faith and work and be a positive influence and representative of Christ in your workplace. A few members of our Faith and Work Book Club who left the workplace at the same time I did have continued in a new book club. More about that shortly. Continue reading


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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers by Dane Ortlund. Crossway. 224 pages. 2020
****

Every once in a while, a book comes along that just blows you away. Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortlund is one of those books. This was a book that I was influenced to read because so many people I respect were writing good things about it and recommending it. As a result, my wife and I read and discussed the book, which is comprised of relatively short chapters.
Ortlund tells us that the book is written for the discouraged, the frustrated, the weary, the disenchanted, the cynical, the empty. It is written, in other words, for normal Christians. In short, it is for sinners and sufferers.
In the book, the author simply asks what the Bible says about the heart of Christ, and considers the glory of his heart for our own up-and-down lives. The author takes either a Bible passage or a teaching from the Puritans (especially Thomas Goodwin), and considers what is being said about the heart of God and of Christ. He doesn’t focus centrally on what Christ has done, but instead who he is. The two matters are bound up together and indeed interdependent. But they are distinct. Letting Jesus set the terms, the author tells us that his surprising claim is that he is “gentle and lowly in heart.” The point in saying that Jesus is lowly is that he is accessible. He tells us that for all his resplendent glory and dazzling holiness, Jesus’ supreme uniqueness and otherness, no one in human history has ever been more approachable than Jesus Christ.
The message of the book is that we tend to project our natural expectations about who God is onto him instead of fighting to let the Bible surprise us into what God himself says. The book reads almost like a devotional. One way to approach it is to read a chapter a day over your morning coffee. Another is to read and discuss with others.
Here are 20 of my favorite quotes from the book:

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review and reviews of…

  • The Gathering Storm: Secularism, Culture, and the Church by Albert Mohler
  • Before You Open Your Bible: Nine Heart Postures For Approaching God’s Word by Matt Smethurst

BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur
I’M CURRENTLY READING….
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My Review of “A Way With Words: Using Our Online Conversations for Good” by Daniel Darling

A Way with Words: Using Our Online Conversations for Good by Daniel Darling. B&H Books. 224 pages. 2020
****

In this book, Daniel Darling considers the important subject of communicating in the internet age. He addresses the way we conduct ourselves in this new reality, the way we behave online. He tells us that we have a speaking God, which means that those who bear his image are also speakers. Sadly however, not all the words that we create reflect God’s own beautiful words, which is the reason for the book. The author states that nobody who bears the name of Christ is exempt from the Bible’s command toward thoughtful speech. He reminds us that we are the people, after all, who should most care about the truth as we serve the One who ultimately claimed to be the truth.
In this book, the author addresses such important topics as confirmation bias (the instinct to believe the worst things about people with whom we might disagree); a “hive mind” (groups of people who come to a consensus about something without hearing or being willing to listen to alternative ideas; performative posting (a projection of a life and a persona that we wish we had. It’s wanting to be seen as the kind of person we wish we were rather than who we really are); performative victimhood, courage and civility; conspiracy theories; the emerging shame and cancel culture; discernment (a constant theme directed toward the people of God in the Bible, and thus not an optional exercise for believers); creating unnecessary division in the body of Christ, which he writes is not just annoying, but sinful; how we process the news and interact with it online, suggesting that we begin with a commitment to read a variety of perspectives, not just those that confirm our biases; not only being right, but having the right tone; how to properly steward our influence;  what our online speech is modeling for others; and the impact of the internet on the local church. Continue reading


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12 Upcoming Books You May Be Interested In

There are a number of books set to be published over the next few months that I think you might be interested in. Here are 12 of them, and I’ve included their description from Amazon except where otherwise noted:

Three books in R.C. Sproul’s Crucial Questions series will be published August 12. All of the books in the Crucial Questions series are free in the Kindle edition.

How Can I Live by Faith?
“Becoming a Christian doesn’t come at the cost of your intellect. In fact, the Christian faith provides the most compelling, logical explanation for life in this world. In this booklet, Dr. R.C. Sproul demonstrates that Christianity is rational because it is based on the promises of God, who has proven His trustworthiness in His Word. These promises provide an unshakable foundation for our salvation, faithful living, and hope for the future.”

 What is the Gospel?
“Many people think that since God is good, He will accept us as long as we lead good lives. But this isn’t good news, because none of us is as good as God. If left to ourselves, we will receive what our lives actually deserve: His judgment. In this booklet, Dr. R.C. Sproul explains the gospel, God’s good news for sinful people like us. While we could never save ourselves from His just condemnation, God calls us to trust in His Son, Jesus Christ, who alone can redeem us through His righteous life, atoning death, and victorious resurrection.”

 What is Biblical Wisdom?
“Wisdom isn’t something only needed by the foolish and immature. All of us are called to grow in wisdom, for true wisdom has to do with pleasing the God who made us. In this booklet, Dr. R.C. Sproul introduces the Wisdom Literature of the Old Testament. He shows that wisdom goes hand in hand with being godly, and he demonstrates the Bible’s practical guidelines for a well-lived life that honors the Lord.”


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My Book is on Sale for $.99 August 6-13!

The Kindle edition of my new book Called to Lead: Living and Leading for Jesus in the Workplace will be on sale for just $.99 for one week, beginning at 10:00 am CST August 6. The sale will end at 2:00 am CST on August 13.
In the book I share what I’ve learned about calling, vocation, work and leadership from my experience of leading in both the general marketplace and the church for more than 40 years.
Here are a few endorsements for the book:
“I rejoice to read sound words on how to integrate a Christian leader’s faith and work from such a faithful elder, who has immersed himself in the contemporary and historical writings of Reformed theologians and the essence of the Gospel. Bill Pence’s own integrated leadership in this area has spread by his mentoring of other leaders in the workplace and the “pews,” his Coram Deo blog, and his service in his local church. God has made Bill a rich resource to recover what was lost in the divide between faith and work.”
Dr. Robert Davis Smart, Senior Pastor of Christ Church (PCA), Normal, Illinois and author of many books including Waging War in an Age of Doubt Continue reading


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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

The Logic of God: 52 Christian Essentials for the Heart and Mind by Ravi Zacharias. HarperCollins Publishing. 275 pages. 2019 
****

This book of 52 readings from Ravi Zacharias, who went home to be with the Lord May 19, is a collection of his writings, most of which have never before been published in book form. They were selected for their perspective on the many ways God has provided us with evidence of His existence and how this “logic” gives life meaning, establishes the credibility of the Christian message, shows the weakness of modern intellectual movements, demonstrates the certainty of the claims of Jesus Christ, and validates biblical teaching and Christian apologetics. Each reading is preceded by a relevant quote from the Bible. Two other features to help the reader to reflect on important themes in the readings – “Reflection Questions”, and apply the lessons learned from the readings – “Personal Application”. The author recommends that, if possible, you spend a week with each “experience”, although you can also read like a standard “daily devotional” as I did.

Below are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review and reviews of
~ Growing in Holiness by R.C. Sproul
~ Growing Up (With) R.C. by R.C. Sproul Jr
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur
I’M CURRENTLY READING…. Continue reading