Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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My Review of HOTEL MUMBAI

Hotel Mumbai, rated R
***

Hotel Mumbai is an intense film about the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India that lasted four days. The film is well made and acted, but has a significant amount of violence and adult language (much of it appearing in subtitles). The film is directed by Anthony Maras, and written by Maras and John Collee (Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, Happy Feet). The film is based on hundreds of hours of interviews with survivors and witnesses of the attacks.
We see ten Lashkar-e-Taiba (a Pakistan based terrorist group) Muslim jihadists approach Mumbai in small boats. Armed with assault rifles, grenades and improvised explosive devices, the young men split up in taxis and begin to carry out their twelve planned shooting and bombing attacks across the city, that will eventually last three days. They get their direction via earpieces from their handlers in Pakistan and are told that Allah awaits them in paradise. The Mumbai police force is completely unprepared to deal with an attack of such magnitude, and backup forces are 800 miles and hours away in Delhi. Continue reading

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My Reflections of the 2019 Gospel Coalition National Conference

Last week my wife Tammy and I attended the 2019 Gospel Coalition Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. This was the first time we had attended this particular conference and it was a wonderful experience. Logistically, there are a number of hotels nearby the Indianapolis Convention Center (ours and others had walkways from the hotel to the convention center) and more than 200 restaurants in the surrounding area. About 7,200 people from around the world attended the conference, which had a theme of “Conversations with Jesus”. Each of the main messages was from a passage in the Gospels in which Jesus was interacting with people.   The video of all main sessions, and audio of all other sessions are available for FREE here:  https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/conference/2019-national-conference/

There was definitely an international flavor to the conference, as it was emphasized that the Gospel Coalition is not just a U.S. organization. There was a conference bookstore with thousands of titles at discounted prices (check out the Gospel Coalition’s new online bookstore), and an exhibit hall with in excess of 100 exhibitors representing ministries from around the world. A conference app was valuable in helping us to navigate the convention center and conference sessions.

The conference started with pre-conference sessions on Sunday evening and Monday morning, with the first main session beginning Monday afternoon. In addition to the eight main sessions, there were three breakout sessions you could sign up for. In addition, there were auxiliary events early morning, during meal breaks and late in the evening. Needless to say, we were pretty tired when we returned to our hotel each evening.

In addition to the excellent teaching, a highlight was the worship led by Matt Boswell.
We also enjoyed running into a lot of friends (from our presbytery, from ministries we support and one of my former professors from Covenant Seminary).
It was a great experience and we can’t wait for the 2020 Gospel Coalition National Conference.
Here are some of my favorite quotes from some of the sessions I attended. Continue reading


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6 Books I Recommend on Marriage

There are many good books that have been written for Christians on the subject of marriage, and more are being written all the time. I’ve read many of them over the years. Below are 6 of them that I can recommend to you:

The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God by Tim Keller with Kathy Keller

From the Amazon description:
“This book shows everyone—Christians, skeptics, singles, longtime married couples, and those about to be engaged—the vision of what marriage should be according to the Bible. Timothy Keller, with insights from Kathy, his wife of thirty-seven years, shows marriage to be a glorious relationship that is also misunderstood and mysterious. The Meaning of Marriage offers instruction on how to have a successful marriage, and is essential reading for anyone who wants to know God and love more deeply in this life.”

Here’s my review of the book. Continue reading


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5 More Keys to a Great Marriage

Recently I shared 5 keys to a great marriage. My wife Tammy and I have been married for almost 39 years now. We weren’t blessed with children, but we’ve been blessed with a great marriage. Here are 5 more keys to a great marriage:

  1. Have a regular “Date Night”. It is important, whether you have children or not, to have a weekly “Date Night”. For us, during most of our marriage our “Date Night” was on Friday night, and included a movie and dinner. We always found this to be a good way to transition from a busy work week into the weekend. A “Date Night” should be scheduled on your calendar. Otherwise, it’s too easy to forget about it.
  2. Look for ways to sacrificially love your spouse. This doesn’t have to be anything extravagant, like the saying goes “it’s the thought that counts”. A few suggestions would be: warm their towel in the dryer and then hand it to them when they get out of the shower; fill up their car with gas; fix dinner, or take them out for dinner as a surprise; fold the clothes in the dryer; rub their neck and shoulders. And don’t forget to thank them for the chores they do around the house. You get the idea. This will let your spouse know that you were thinking of them.
  3. Talk to your spouse before making any commitments or decisions. Communication is huge in every walk of life, and it is especially so in marriage. We have made it a practice not to commit to anything before talking to the other. Not all couples do this, and we have seen the consequences. This practice has worked well for us through the years, and helped us avoid alot of disagreements.
  4. Be willing to compromise. This takes humility and being willing to put the desires of your spouse above your own. One way this played out practically for us, and probably just about every other couple, is where to spend the holidays. For example, if you can’t be at both of your families for Christmas each year, a good compromise would be to rotate where you spend the holidays from year to year. Of lesser importance is the movies and television programs you watch. For example, it wouldn’t be fair to Tammy if we watched St. Louis Cardinal baseball every night and she didn’t get to see programs that she enjoyed. There should be good communication and compromise.
  5. We all sin and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). We are going to mess up and let our spouses down. When we do so, we need to sincerely apologize and ask for forgiveness. When we give forgiveness, we should not bring up the reason for the forgiveness in the heat of an argument. Christians of all people have been forgiven much, so we should also forgive our spouses when they sin against us.

There are many keys to a great marriage. I’ve now shared 10 of them. What others would you add to this list?


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5 Keys to a Great Marriage

My wife Tammy and I have been married for almost 39 years now. We weren’t blessed with children, but we’ve been blessed with a great marriage. There are many keys to a great marriage. In this post I’ll share just 5 of them:

  1. Be good friends. My wife and I just flat out enjoy spending time together, and laughter has gotten us through some very hard times. Quality time together is each of our number one love languages. We enjoy doing things together, whether it is a nice vacation destination, going to the movies, binge-watching a favorite television program or reading good books on our patio. It’s important being good friends as parents as well. I know of too many couples who once they are “empty nesters” don’t know what to do because their relationship was primarily as parents to their children.
  2. Enjoy the interests of the other. Part of being good friends is learning to enjoy the interests of your spouse. There is certainly a need to compromise here. Tammy will often remind me that when we were dating she sat behind the stage for a Bob Dylan concert at the old Chicago Stadium. Now that is true love! I’ve gone to my share of craft shows and Tammy has gone to her share of sporting events and concerts that if it wasn’t for the other person we would never have gone to.
  3. Be like minded in your faith. When we got married I was Roman Catholic and Tammy was Protestant. We would go to Tammy’s church one week and mine the next. It was what we did, and it was the best we could do at the time, but it wasn’t great. There was certainly tension.  Ideally, you would like the husband to be the spiritual leader of the family.  Quite the responsibility!
  4. Learn how to handle disagreements. We will admit that neither of us were very good at this early in our marriage. Tammy tended to pursue me (because she needed to get a quick resolution), at times using sarcasm, while I tended to withdraw. This would only escalate things between us; hence we had some ugly arguments. It was only when we began to respect each other, not escalate the disagreement, hang in there and not withdraw that we were able to effectively handle disagreements.   If the person that wants to withdraw will tell the other person ‘give me 30 minutes alone to calm down and then we’ll discuss it’, that will go a long way in deescalating things.  Also, choosing to speak respectfully to each other (no sarcasm or name calling!) is huge.
  5. Manage money well and in unity. In a marriage there is often a spender and a saver, or as Dave Ramsey calls them a free spirit and a nerd. I’ll admit that I was the spender. More than once we received budget books as a Christmas gift from Tammy’s parents, but it wasn’t until I started listening to Dave Ramsey that I got it. Until then, my undisciplined spending had caused problems for us. We each then began getting a small allowance each paycheck to spend on what we wanted. We also led two sessions of Dave’s Financial Peace University at our church and saw the impact it had on those who attended.

I started this article by stating that there are many keys to a great marriage. These are just 5 of them. What others would you add to this list?


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How to Stay Pure in Our Sex-Crazed Culture

I grew up during the sexual revolution of the 1960’s. At that time, the X-rated movies were shown in theatres and you had to be a certain age to see them. Pornographic magazines were kept behind the counter in stores. Today, things have changed a great deal. Pornography is now easily accessible on the internet, and for most people, that means on their smartphones. Add to that the fact that sexual content is now a part of many television programs and even a lot of films that are rated PG-13. You no longer have to go to a public theater or ask the clerk for the magazine behind the counter. Pornography can be accessed free, wherever you are. And though we normally think this is just a guy problem, there is disturbing information about how many women are turning to pornography.
So, how is a discerning Christian to remain pure in our sex-crazed culture? Here are three quick thoughts: Continue reading


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My Review of UNPLANNED

Unplanned, rated R
***

Unplanned is the true story of Abby Johnson, the one-time director of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Bryan, Texas. It is the first film from Pure Flix to be given an “R” rating from the MPAA, which will undoubtedly limit the audience for the film. The film was written and directed by Chuck Konzelman (God’s Not Dead, God’s Not Dead 2) and Cary Solomon (God’s Not Dead, God’s Not Dead 2) and is based on Abby Johnson’s book Unplanned: The Dramatic True Story of a Former Planned Parenthood Leader’s Eye-Opening Journey across the Life Line. Konzelman and Solomon have been best friends since growing up next door to one another in New Jersey. Both are Roman Catholic, and live in Los Angeles. The film had a budget of approximately $6 million ($1 million of which was donated by Michael Lindell, inventor of My Pillow and CEO of My Pillow Inc.). Continue reading