Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

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Movie Review ~ The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 1The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1
** ½

This film is based on the first part of Suzanne Collins’ Mockingjay, the final book in her best-selling Hunger Games trilogy. The film corresponding to the second part of the book will be released in 2015. Our Friday night Movie Club (including a few additional honorary members) was really looking forward to this film (much as we did with each Harry Potter film). We purchased tickets in advance, and arrived in the theatre about 45 minutes before show time, only to find several excited patrons already in there ahead of us. It was a very festive atmosphere.

As the film starts, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence), her sister Primrose (Willow Shields) and her mother are safe, far below ground in a bunker in District 13. However, Katniss’ true love Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) is being held as a propaganda tool by the Capitol’s evil President Snow (Donald Sutherland). We see an increasingly thinner and paler Peeta shows up on television pleading for peace in “interviews” led by Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci).

Image consultant Plutarch (played by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, to whom the film is dedicated) tells district President Coin (Julianne Moore) that Katniss is needed as the Mockingjay, to rally the district against the capitol. Katniss initially rejects the idea, but after seeing the death and destruction in her District 12, she agrees, but adds her own conditions. Among those conditions are that Peeta (who is now seen as an enemy) is rescued and pardoned.

President Coin then uses Katniss to film videos, much like President Snow uses Peeta. Katniss is in love with Peeta, though it is obvious that Gale (Liam Hemsworth) also loves her.

Woody Harrelson returns as now sober Haymitch (thanks to the prohibition as he calls it), and Elizabeth Banks brings some comic relief as Effie.

The film is bleak, the darkest installment yet of the three films released to date. It seemed to drag, much like Interstellar did, and at 123 minutes could have been edited more effectively, or better yet, make just one film from the final book, rather than stretching it into two.

The film features a strong cast, led by Lawrence. The story does not move forward too much in this film, but it sets us up for next year’s finale.

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Coram Deo 11.18.14

Courtesy of Christianity Today

Courtesy of Christianity Today



U2 will not be on The Tonight Show this week. The band announced on their website “It looks like we will have to do our Tonight Show residency another time – we’re one man down. Bono has injured his arm in a cycling spill in Central Park and requires some surgery to repair it. We’re sure he’ll make a full recovery soon, so we’ll be back! Much thanks to Jimmy Fallon and everyone at the show for their understanding.”

Taveras and the Avoidable Tragedy. Bernie Miklasz of the St. Lous Post Dispatch writes about the death of St. Louis Cardinal right fielder Oscar Taveras after hearing the news that Taveras was drunk when he crashed his car killing himself and his girlfriend.

A Muckraking Magazine Creates a Stir Among Evangelical Christians. The New York Times writes an article on World Magazine.

Moody’s Founder’s Week, February 2-6, 2015. Speakers include Voddie Baucham and Erwin Lutzer. Musicians include Sara Groves and Rend Collective.

Voddie Baucham announces that he is leaving his church to be president of African Christian University. Read his announcement to his church.


Sexual Orientation and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Dr. Albert Mohler writes “As I explained in my address, I had previously denied the existence of sexual orientation. I, along with many other evangelicals, did so because we did not want to accept the sexual identity structure that so often goes with sexual orientation. I still reject that notion of sexual identity. But I repented of denying the existence of sexual orientation because denying it was deeply confusing to people struggling with same-sex attraction.”

On Purity and Homosexuality. Randy Alcorn writes “Two weeks ago our EPM staff member Julia Stager posted her first video on my blog: “Superheroes, Heresies and the God-man.” We got a terrific response from this video, and those still coming will be every bit as good! Our plan is to highlight another of Julia’s videos every other week. Julia’s featured video today is on the critical topic of purity and homosexuality.”

Not That Kind of Homosexuality? Kevin DeYoung writesThere is simply no positive case for homosexual practice in the Bible and no historical background that will allow us to set aside what has been the plain reading of Scripture for twenty centuries. The only way to think the Bible is talking about every other kind of homosexuality except the kind our culture wants to affirm is to be less than honest with the texts or less than honest with ourselves.”

Hospitality, Sacrifice, and Delight in God. Good article from Jen Pollock Michel of Desiring God on hospitality.

Hurdles of Comparison and Perfectionism for Women. Matt Chandler answers questions in this episode of Ask TVC from his A Beautiful Design series.

12 Struggles Singles Face. David Murray writes “When we hear the word “single” we usually think of one kind of single – someone maybe 25-50 who has not married. But there are other kinds of singles: widows, single parents, divorcees, those who suffer with same-sex attraction, and even those who are in loveless marriages – perhaps the most painful singleness of all. But for all singles, there are twelve struggles that must be faced at different stages and to different degrees”.

John Piper and Mark Driscoll: Lessons Not Learned? A thought-provoking article from Dan Phillips.

Francis Chan Asks “Are You Walking with God?” Janet Denison writes that was Francis Chan’s message for a group of Christian leaders in Dallas recently.

Barbershop Grief ~ This post from Thabiti Anyabwile has three points: He is full of grief. He is so tired of guns. He wants Jesus to come quickly.

Six Truths about Sickness. Brian G. Najapfour writes “You will experience sickness at some point in your life. You might have a bad cold, fever, incurable disease, chronic ailment, or terminal illness like cancer. And since sickness is a part of our existence, understanding it properly is of great importance. Therefore, in this post we will examine what the Bible teaches about illness.”

What Does “Amen” Mean? R. C. Sproul writes that Jesus says “amen” to indicate truth; we say it to receive that truth and to submit to it.

John Macarthur On Helps And Hindrances To Joy. In a sermon on Rejoice Always (1 Thess. 5:16), John Macarthur listed eight sources of joy and then six thieves of joy. David Murray summarizes them for us. John MacArthur Answers Questions Via Twitter. Recently, John MacArthur dusted his Twitter account off, and opened it up for business. Part of that was hosting a Q&A session in real time.

The State of Theology: The Taming of God. Stephen Nichols continues his analysis of the recent “State of Theology” survey that Ligonier Ministries commissioned He states “One of the things the survey reveals is a significant confusion and disconnect when it comes to thinking about God.”

Lay Aside the Weight of “I’ll Never Change” by Jon Bloom. He writes “We all must come to terms with the way we are. But there are two ways we must do this. The first is to cultivate contentment with who God designed us to be, which results in a wonderful liberation from trying to be someone we’re not. The second is to lay aside the burdensome weight of the fatalistic resignation that we’ll never be any different than what we are, which results in an enslavement to our sin-infused predilections.”

The Seven Deadly Sins in a Digital Age: An Introduction. A helpful new series by W. Bradford Littlejohn. Check out the following article in the series on lust.

9 Steps to Putting That Sin to Death. Tim Challies continues his series on John Owen’s classic book Overcoming Sin and Temptation.

On the Wrong Side of History? Carson, Keller, and Piper Tackle a Common Objection. The wrong-side-of-history objection “presupposes a certain view of history, an inevitability of certain social trends that are going that way no matter what we do,” Don Carson explains in a new roundtable video with Tim Keller and John Piper. “But if we look at history another way—space and time are going to unravel as the Lord of history brings all things to pass—you bet I want to be on the right side of history.” As Keller puts it, “Since Jesus Christ is coming again, the only way to be on the right side of history is to belong to him.”

A Prayer for Not Being First. Scotty Smith offers a wonderful prayer for us to be convicted and freed from the ways we love to be first.


Back from Death’s Door: ‘Hoovey’ a Must See Movie. In this film, when 16-year-old “Hoovey” of Normal, Ill., collapses on the basketball court, doctors discover a life-threatening brain tumor that could derail all of his hopes and dreams. After high-risk surgery he must relearn life’s fundamentals: walking, reading, even seeing clearly.

World Magazine’s review of the acclaimed new film about Stephen Hawking entitled, “The Theory of Everything”.  

Matt Damon to return as Jason Bourne. Actor Matt Damon confirmed that he will return to the role of Jason Bourne in 2016 after stepping out of the spotlight for the fourth installment of the popular action series.

Lecrae Delivers ‘Dirty Water’ Lyrics for ’16 Bars’. Exclusive video from Boom Box.


New Piper BookJohn Piper releases a new book of Advent devotionals. John Piper’s first Advent devotional book has been so well received these last two years that Desiring God has partnered with Crossway Books to produce a new set of meditations for this December: The Dawning of Indestructible Joy: Daily Readings for Advent. These 25 short readings begin December 1 and lead us into Christmas Day in hopes of keeping Jesus at the center of our season. The new book is now available for purchase in paperback and Kindle, as well as free of charge in PDF.

4 Benefits of Our Adoption. Sinclair Ferguson offers this excerpt from his new book The Trinitarian Devotion of John Owen. Look for a review in the coming weeks. I’m looking forward to reading this book!

Amazon Editors Pick their Top 100 Books of 2014. 

Amazon 2014 Best Books of the Year: The Top 100 in Print Format (NOTE: Lila: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson is at #87)

The Fallibility of the Foundling’s Savior: Marilynne Robinson’s Lila and Jonathan Edwards. John Piper writes “Pulitzer Prize winning novelist and essayist Marilynne Robinson writes fiction and non-fiction with complexity and narrative skill, because the thinkers who have moved her most deeply “did some justice to the complexity of things” and spoke of salvation as “a revolution of consciousness that opened on an overwhelming sense of the beautiful” — people like John Calvin and Jonathan Edwards. In other words, she’s complex, because reality is. And she pursues skilled craftsmanship, because reality is beautiful. She just published her fourth novel, Lila, and an essay about Jonathan Edwards in Humanities: Magazine of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Both publications carry a similar message about the unacceptability of hell, and the good effects of rejecting it, and the ultimate mystery — and wonder — of human life.


I enjoyed this recent tweet: “I hereby grant full amnesty to all Romulan ships entering the Neutral Zone.”

I enjoyed this recent tweet: “I hereby grant full amnesty to all Romulan ships entering the Neutral Zone.”

~ UPDATED PAGES ON THE BLOG ~Eric Metaxas book - Miracles

Book Review: Miracles: What They Are, Why They Happen, and How They Can Change Your Life by Eric Metaxas

I’m Currently Reading


    • Though sin often brings immediate pleasure, it gives no lasting joy. -R.C. Sproul
    • To believe the gospel is to stop giving God bit parts in our story, and to begin celebrating our place in His story. -Scotty Smith
    • If Jesus rose from the dead you have to accept all He said; if he didn’t then why worry about any of what he said? -Tim Keller
    • Live like someone died for you. -Lecrae

Doug Michael Cartoon

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.

And so it is with you… we are in charge of our Attitudes. -Chuck Swindoll Faith and Work

Integrating Faith and Work:  Connecting Sunday to Monday

Your Relationships Play an Essential Role in Biblical Flourishing. Hugh Welchel writes that God designed humans to have four types of healthy relationships, all of which were broken at the Fall.

The Price and Payoff of Leadership. Dave Kraft writes “So fellow leader. Hang in there. Don’t quit because of the price. He (Jesus) didn’t quit when the price was high!

A Christian Tightrope Walker? David Murray writes “Is tightrope-walking a legitimate Christian vocation? Does repeatedly mentioning God sanctify whatever job we do? Or are there certain vocations that Christians should not pursue? If so, are there biblical guidelines for helping us to decide which jobs are legitimate for a Christian? I believe there are four such guidelines, and I’d like to measure Wallenda’s chosen vocation against them.”

Elisha: Give Your Best Wherever God Puts You. John Maxwell writes “If you are willing to do small things in the service of God, and do them with excellence, God will give you opportunities to do bigger things for Him when you are ready.”

My Three Seasons of Faith and Work: How farmers, scientists, teachers, doctors, and a furnace repair man taught Matt Woodley to see all callings as holy.

Don’t Waste Your Two Most Productive Hours. ‘Each morning we get a brief window of time during which we’re most mentally capable of getting stuff done’ said behavioral scientist Dan Ariely in a recent Ask Me Anything on Reddit. And yet most of us waste that time.

Did I Waste My Most Productive Hours? Aimee Byrd writes “The article (referenced above), reports on the statement by behavioral scientist Dan Ariely that our two most potentially productive hours are the two hours after we are fully awake. This is when we supposedly have the best mental capacity to get things done. The first thing I wonder is what qualifies as “fully awake”?

The Five Components of Effective Delegation. Matt Perman writes “How do you delegate in a way that gets the tasks done and builds people up in the process? You do this by communicating five things.”

6 Strategies to Sleep Soundly, Wake Rested, and Accomplish More. Michael Hyatt shares six strategies for getting more and better sleep starting tonight.

The Heart of Our Message. Bob Chapman writes “When you focus on people as people, instead of just ‘head count,’ it makes a difference. Not just in your business, but in a very real way in people’s everyday lives.”

Is Career Success a Zero Sum Game? Dr. David Leonard, in writing about the film Nightcrawler, states: “But the film also reminded me of a helpful lesson about work and relationships that is essential for Christians to grasp: your colleagues are not your competition; nor are your clients disposable contributors to your bottom line. They are people of value, within your sphere of influence, whom you have the opportunity to serve.”

Don’t Bother With Goals…..Unless. In this “Tuesday Tip”, Dr. Alan Zimmerman looks at a few of the smaller but nonetheless important strategies you can use to move you along the path of becoming a success.”

Calling: A Biblical Perspective – Free E-Book. Calling, or vocation, is the single most popular topic in the theology of work. When people ponder how their faith relates to their work, their first question is often, “What kind of work is God calling me to?”

Work for God: Called Out of the Ministry. Will Ratliff writes “God cares infinitely more about my character than my career choices. This seems to be a recurring life lesson for me.”

Most of the Work of Ministry Is Done by Christians Who Work Secular Jobs. Jon Bloom writes “Most Christians struggle at some point with the sense that ministry jobs are just more sacred than other jobs. You can see this reflected in our terminology: we tend to call non-ministry jobs “secular jobs.” It can be hard not to see them as “unspiritual” or “less spiritual” jobs.  But God draws no such distinctions.”

How To Get Things Done: Taming the Email Beast. Tim Challies continues with his series on productivity.

Why Everything Is Awesome When You’re Leading a Team. Michael Hyatt writes “The benefits of a team are probably endless. But depending on the type of team you want to build, here are four new possibilities for your business.”

What Manufacturing Teaches Us about the Dignity of Work. Dr. Anne Bradley writes that all work is valuable. “We were designed to reflect the creativity of the One who designed and brought us into being. We need to be proactive about affirming the dignity of others in their work, just as we need to possess a balanced, honest understanding of our own value in society and to our God.”

What is a Good Job? Hugh Whelchel writes: “A good job is one where God allows us to bring purpose and meaning into the work he has called us to do, understanding there is inherent value in that work itself because it is important to God. This is true whether we are a dishwasher or a CEO, a stay-at-home mom, or the pastor of a mega church.”

Being a Strong Leader without Being an Abusive Leader. Dave Kraft writes “Strong leadership doesn’t have to become abusive and arrogant; but, sadly, that’s what sometimes occurs. Let’s all strive for, and grow in, strong and humble leadership.”

The Surprising Key that Opens the Gift of Work. We will work better, smarter and more productively if we make time for rest. Rest is the key that opens the gift of work.

Matthew through Acts – Theology of Work Bible Commentary, volume 4 Published. On October 24, 2014, the Theology of Work Bible Commentary (Volume 4: Matthew-Acts) was released in print for the first time. The entire commentary is currently available for free at


Our prayers are included among God’s providential plan for the destiny of His world. -R.C. Sproul

When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die. -Dietrich Bonhoeffer (from The Cost of Discipleship)

 Success isn’t what you did compared to others. It’s what you did compared to what you were supposed to do. -Lecrae

 Everybody you see and talk to today is dealing with something hard that you can’t see. Everyone needs grace from everyone. -Tullian Tchividjian

Faith and Work Book Clubs – Won’t you read along with us?

What’s Best Next Book Club

What's Best NextWhat’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done by Matt Perman

We continue with our overview of this new book on productivity from a Christian perspective. This week we look at Chapter 22: Daily Execution.


God at Work Book Club

God at WorkGod at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of Life by Gene Edward Veith Jr.

When we recently visited St. Andrews Chapel where R.C. Sproul is one of the pastors, this book was the church’s “Book of the Month”. I’m excited to read it. We’ll look at a chapter each week – won’t you read along with us? This week we cover Chapter 4: Finding Your Vocations

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When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul. -From “It is Well” written by Horatio G. Spafford

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Living Life Under the Gaze of God on 11.12.2014

Courtesy of World Magazine

Courtesy of World Magazine



What the Election Reveals About Us, and Why We Vote as We Do by Albert Mohler. He writes: “The results of this midterm election will give intelligent Christians a great deal to think about. But when it comes to the larger issues at stake, the midterm election is simply one episode in a very long story, a story of political engagement that should lead Christians to continue to think ever more seriously about the issues that are really at stake.”

NFL Players Injured Doing State Farm’s “Discount Double Check” dance. Two National Football League players have suffered season-ending knee injuries in the past month thanks to a celebration dance associated with, ironically, a major insurance company. In similar instances, Chicago Bears tackle Lamarr Houston and Detroit Lions linebacker Stephen Tulloch have each attempted to do particularly exuberant versions of State Farm’s “Discount Double Check” after logging quarterback sacks.

Chick Fil-A is making plans to open a restaurant in Bloomington, Illinois! Our sources tell us that the restaurant will be at the corner of Veterans Parkway and College Avenue in the area where the new Red Robin has already been announced. As Trip Lee says, that would be Shweet!

Pope Francis Wants To Know What Rick Warren, Russell Moore, N. T. Wright Think about Marriage. Rick Warren, senior pastor of Saddleback Church, and Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission, will meet Pope Francis and offer an “evangelical Protestant” perspective as part of a Vatican colloquium on marriage and family held November 17-19.

Risk Is Right, Says Ebola Survivor and Missionary Nancy Writebol. Nancy Writebol, would prefer to be known as just a Christian, wife, mother to two grown boys, and grandmother. But after an adventurous few months, she’s now known to the world as a brave missionary, Ebola survivor, and success story of medical evacuation.

Tom Magliozzi, half of the “Click and Clack” team of brothers who hosted NPR’s “Car Talk” radio show dies. I always enjoyed that radio show, not because I know much about cars, which I don’t, but because of the humor that the brothers brought to the show. NPR reported the death

Brittany Maynard’s Suicide. Brittany Maynard committed suicide as planned on November 1. Read Randy Alcorn’s article about her death.

Billy Graham: 96 and Still Preaching. It’s been nearly a decade since his last Crusade in 2005, but the evangelist continues to have an impact through his second annual “My Hope” evangelistic program, to be televised nationally on his birthday.

Yadier Molina Wins 7th Consecutive Gold Glove. Continuing to build a Hall of Fame worthy resume, St. Louis Cardinals catcher (and my favorite Cardinal) Yadier Molina won his 7th consecutive Gold Glove, only the third catcher in Major League Baseball history to do so. Congratulations Yadi!

Albert Pujols with Trip Lee. The Angels slugger attended Lee’s November 8 Winter Jam concert.

Albert Pujols with Trip Lee. The Angels slugger attended Lee’s November 8 Winter Jam concert.


Pornography: Why Internet Accountability Software Doesn’t Work. Leon Brown writes “Essentially what has occurred is that internet accountability software has produced an outward display of repentance (i.e., I can be on my best behavior because I have accountability software) but the heart has never been changed. The heart still desperately yearns for viewing that material and it will do what it takes to satiate its desires. Repentance, therefore, is needed, but it must take place both outwardly and inwardly. Internet accountability software can work, but those using it must be saturated in the love of Christ and repentant both outwardly and inwardly. This does not mean one’s struggles will cease permanently, but it does produce a greater possibility that you will never look at pornography again. Beloved, in Christ, it is possible to break the cycle.

3 Things to Consider Before That Next Big Sin. Tim Challies continues his series on John Owens’ book Overcoming Sin and Temptation with part ten in the series.

Five Truths about the Wrath of God. Joseph Schuemann of Desiring God writes “The doctrine of the wrath of God has fallen on hard times. In today’s world, any concept of God’s wrath upsets our modern sentiments. It’s too disconcerting, too intolerant.”

My Strange Bedfellow, Guilt. Lore Ferguson writes “For as long as I can remember I have wakened to guilt. It is a pulsating thought with root in no particular sin or crime, just a carried burden that I have done the world, and the Lord, an irreparable wrong. It is not a quiet guilt, but a raging one. It consumes me on some days and on the days when it doesn’t, it reminds me it is coming soon for me again. Guilt is my roadmap to repentance—even when I’m not sure what it is I’m repenting for.”

A Prayer for Dealing with My Plank-Filled Eye. Here is a wonderful prayer from Scotty Smith as he prays for the Lord as cardiologist and ophthalmologist to bring his grace and truth to bear in our hearts and eyes.


The Biggest Heresy in America. David Murray writes that “Pushing errors regarding the trinity and the church into second and third place is the denial of the Bible’s teaching about the doctrine of sin, especially in the related areas of human depravity and human inability.”

Declaration of Interdependence by Charlie Peacock. He shares about some of the incredible people in his life as a result of God’s Providence, which he describes as “God going ahead of a person or persons, preparing the way for future eventualities and interdependent connection of people and place.”

The Most Important Session of All. R.C. Sproul writes that churches that use the Presbyterian form of church government are led by elders, who collectively constitute what is called the session, but that the most important session of all is the session of Jesus Christ in heaven.

7 Wrong Reasons to Join a Church. Joining a church is a very important decision, and yet it’s a decision to which the larger part of church attenders have given little or no thought.


How Can You Tell if Someone Has Truly Repented of Grievous Sin? R.C. Sproul Jr. writes: “If the sinner ends up in heaven, you will know they had truly repented. If not, they likely had not.”

What is the Heartbeat of Reformed Theology? Jason Helopoulos indicates that he wouldn’t argue with someone who felt that the heartbeat of Reformed Theology was the Doctrines of Grace, union with Christ, or even the Solas of the Reformation, but states that “Reformed theology is a system of doctrine that seeks to rightly articulate the teaching of the Scriptures for the glory of God. It is His glory that is our heartbeat, propels us to action, and the reward that we seek after.”

The State of Theology: What’s Our Theological Temperature? Stephen Nichols writes:”What is our theological temperature? To answer this question, we recently partnered with Lifeway Research to conduct a poll of 43 questions relating to the doctrines of God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, sin, salvation, the Bible, the church, and ethics.”

Why do People Like John Piper Put an Emphasis on Being Radical, Rather Than Ordinary? Matt Perman states that “I tend to gravitate more to the “radical” theme, because I think the Scriptures do.”

What’s Better Than Jesus Being Beside You? J.D. Greear writes about the Holy Spirit and the two extremes that Evangelicals usually fall into regarding the Holy Spirit – either being obsessed with Him, relating to him in strange, mystical ways, or neglecting his ministry altogether.


God is Merciful Not to Tell Us Everything. Jon Bloom of Desiring God writes “He tells us enough to sustain us if we trust him, but often that does not feel like enough. We really think we would like to know more.”

That is the Grace ~ Enjoy this three-minute sermon excerpt from Matt Chandler.

Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael

Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael


Purity is Possible. Tim Challies writes that “For a long time I have pointed to the lack of good books on sexual purity that are targeted at women. Thankfully, Christian publishers are beginning to address the issue, and to address it well.” He introduces us to the new book Purity is Possible: How to live free of the fantasy trap (Live Different) by Helen Thorne.

Lecrae’s Upcoming Book will explain why he has stormed the gates of the secular hip-hop community with his music.

Matt Chandler book on MarriageNew Matt Chandler book on Marriage. Matt Chandler’s new book The Mingling of Souls: God’s Design for Love, Marriage, Sex, and Redemption will be released January 1. He will be discussing the book at Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago on January 30.

The Calvinist on the Bestseller List. Rachel Marie Stone writes that Marilynne Robinson’s “rigorous intellect is wedded to a profound appreciation of the human soul; her creative vision takes shape in relation to her Christian faith.”

8 Reasons to Pursue Biblical Friendships. David Murray summarizes key points from The Company We Keep: In Search of Biblical Friendship by Jonathan Holmes.

The 53 Best Books of 2014. Here’s the first “best” list for 2014 that I’ve seen. Tony Reinke looks at the top books of 2014. As much as I read, I’ve read only two of these, have one in progress and plan to read another.

Tim Keller's New Book on Prayer20 Quotes from Tim Keller’s new book on Prayer. Matt Smethurst lists 20 quotes that caught his attention as he read Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God.

Watch this Video for Tim Keller’s new book on Prayer.

Review of Tim Keller’s new book on Prayer. Andrew Davis reviews the much anticipated new book from Keller Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God. This will be the next book Tammy and I read together.

Eric Metaxas Interview about His New Miracles Book. Metaxas, best-selling biographer of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and William Wilberforce was recently interviewed by Tim Stafford of Christianity Today about his new book Miracles: What They Are, Why They Happen, and How They Can Change Your Life. Look for a review of that book here next week.


Toy Story 4 announced. Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the gang from the beloved Pixar/Disney Toy Story franchise will be back on the big screen for a fourth animated installment, slated to open in theaters June 16, 2017.

Was Moses schizophrenic and barbaric? So says Christian Bale, who will portray Moses in the upcoming film Exodus: Gods and Kings.

Jim Gaffigan is known as the “Clean Comedian”. Did you see him recently on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon?

Watch Kevin Spacey and Jimmy Fallon play the Wheel of Impressions recently on The Tonight Show? They both do great impressions!

Family Circle - submitted by Karen DeKeersgieter

Family Circle – submitted by Karen DeKeersgieter


Movie Review: Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me, rated PG

Music News and Reviews:
Ride Out – Bob Seger
Hallelujah for the Cross – Newsboys

Book Review: Good Leaders Ask Great Questions: Your Foundation to Successful Leadership by John C. Maxwell

INTEGRATING FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday


  • There is nothing more foreign, more alien, to our nature than holiness. -RC Sproul
  • When you pray: remember who you’re talking to, remember what really matters, and remember what you really need. -Kevin DeYoung
  • We’re not loved by God because of our faithfulness. We’re loved by God because of Jesus’ faithfulness for us. -Tullian Tchividjian



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Music News and Reviews 11.12.14

Record PlayerMUSIC NEWS:

Hilarious Video from Steve Taylor. Steve Taylor and the Perfect Foil’s (featuring Peter Furler on drums) new album Goliath will be released on November 18. This week I’ve been enjoying some of Steve’s music from the 80’s and 90’s, which still sound great. Enjoy “The Future of the Music Industry” video from Steve Taylor & The Perfect Foil.

Real Music about Real Change. Petra front man John Schlitt and up-and-coming hip-hop artist KB come from different eras, but both experienced Christ’s deliverance from a life of darkness and found themselves in the spotlight of the Christian music industry.

Rend Collective to appear in Clinton, IL. Rend will be in concert at First Christian Church in Clinton on February 7.

New TobyMac album. TobyMac has been in the studio working on new songs for his sixth full album, with a planned release in May 2015.

Get to Know Trip Lee. Check out this brief overview of Trip from Trevin Wax.

D.C. rapper Trip Lee withstands disease, while pastoring at church, releasing album. Good article about Trip in the Washington Times.

New Worship Album from Third Day. Third Day will release their third worship album, and first in more than a decade, Lead Us Back, on March 3.

U2 to Play The Tonight Show for an Entire Week. My favorite band will play on The Tonight Show each night the week of November 17. Can’t wait!


Bob Seger AlbumRide Out – Bob Seger
*** ½

This is 69 year old Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Bob Seger’s seventeenth album and first since 2006’s Face the Promise (and only his second since 1995), and it’s a very good one at that. Christians will be excited about “Gates of Eden” his song about coming to faith. He also shares his strong feelings about political issues and the environment.

We saw Seger at the Silver Bullet Band in their prime in the early 1980’s at the Poplar Creek Music Theatre (which was torn down in 1994) in Hoffman Estates. For those not familiar with his body of work I would recommend Ultimate Hits: Rock and Roll Never Forgets.

Below are brief comments and/or lyrics from each song on the new album which I really enjoyed. It was great to hear some new Seger music. His voice is in great shape and he’s hinted that this could be his final studio album. One critical comment – the standard version of the album is just too short at 10 songs and 34 minutes. The Deluxe version, contains three additional songs.

The album starts out strong with four upbeat songs before the pace settles down. Spacing the rockers out may have helped give the album better pacing.

Detroit Made – This is a great version of one of my favorite John Hiatt songs, which sounds like it was written for Seger (though it wasn’t).
She’s a Detroit made
Deuce and a quarter, babe

Hey Gypsy – A Chicago blues song written by Seger and one of the best songs on the album featuring a blistering guitar solo from Kenny Greenberg (who is married to Ashley Cleveland). It is a flat-out Stevie Ray Vaughan shuffle. Seger states “I was such a huge fan of his. I called the players in Nashville, and I said, ‘I want you to play as close to Stevie Ray as you can.’ The guitarist Kenny Greenberg, whom I was working with at the time, he brought a special amp in that made him sound exactly like Stevie Ray! We even got Stevie Ray’s old organ player, Reese Wynans. That’s the first time I used him, and he’s on everything (on the album) now.”

Hey Gypsy, where we gonna be
The hard love livin’
It’s getting too much for me

Seger recently performed “Hey Gypsy” on the Ellen show. Check it out here:

The Devil’s Right Hand – Seger covers the gun-violence parable written by Steve Earle. It’s a song Seger has liked ever since he first heard it in the 1988 film “Betrayed,” featuring Debra Winger and Tom Berenger.

The devil’s right hand, the devil’s right hand
Momma said the pistol was the devil’s right hand

Ride Out – A rocker about getting away from things and enjoying God’s creation:
Ride out to a bold new horizon
Where the sun me be shinin’
On a place you’ve never seen

Ride out lift your soul and your spirit
Take a chance and get near it
Everybody needs a dream

Ride out where the hills meet the valleys
Far from campaigns and rallies
And the things we do for oil

Adam and Eve – This song was written by Kasey Chamber and features a duet with Laura Creamer, who has been singing backup for him since “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man” in the ’60s, and features a fiddle, Seger on banjo and mandolin. It’s a slower folk/acoustic that is an interpretation of the sin of Adam and Eve, though I have concern with this line where Adam sings that he was misled:
I can remember, I do recall
There were no weeds here, no thorns at all
I was misguided, I was misled
I asked for good, but got evil instead
I also take exception to this line about God being on their trail:
Come on, we’re leaving, no time to waste
Garden of Eden’s no longer safe
Throw down that apple, that ship has sailed
We’re on the run with God on our trail

The pace of the song and the simple lyrics reminded me of Dylan’s “God Gave Names to All the Animals” from Slow Train Running (which isn’t necessarily a good thing).

California Stars – This is Seger’s take on Woody Guthrie lyrics put to song by Jeff Tweedy and Jay Bennett and recorded by Wilco. The song builds and features some horns and effective background vocals.
I’d like to dream my troubles all away
On our bed of California stars
Jump up from my star bed make another day
Underneath my California stars

It’s Your World – This rocker finds a defiant Seger calling out the things he is concerned about – environmentally, financially, etc. It’s interesting musically and features some good background vocals.
Let’s talk about mining in Wisconsin
Let’s talk about breathing in Beijing
Let’s talk about chemicals in rivers
Let’s talk about cash as king

All of the Roads – This mid-tempo song with a fiddle and effective femaile background vocals finds the rocker in reflective mood.
I’ve done it all before
And I have gone through every door
And I’ve been right down on the floor and more

All of the roads I’ve run
All of the years have fallen away
Light from a distant star
Crossing the void and arriving one day
Oceans of space defending the great unknown
Sooner or later all of us head for home

You Take Me In – A somber acoustic ballad which could be written to a woman or God.
I search for the meaning and keep on believing
Because in the end you take me in
Through all of these reasons that change like the seasons
I’ve got a friend, you take me in

Gates of Eden – This song starts slowly and builds appropriately as Seger sings about his conversion. I’ve included the complete lyrics to the song below:
I was in the tender mercies of the breaking down
I was somehow in a place that made me want to go along
I remember thinking all of this must have a reason
I remember thinking maybe I should look beyond

The night came on like thunder lightning split the purple skies
My whole day had been a journey sorting through the truth and lies
I remember searching longing for a deeper meaning
And it hit me like a diamond bullet right between the eyes

And I believed everything You said
Every paragraph and every work I read
Calling into question everything that I believe in
Huddled with the masses
Stranded at the gates of Eden
I was huddled with the masses
Stranded at the gates of Eden

Seger will bring his tour to the United Center in Chicago on December 11 and the Scottrade Center in St. Louis on December 13. Check out his official site at

Newsboys AlbumHallelujah for the Cross – Newsboys

This has been an incredible year for the Newsboys. The release of the film God’s Not Dead, which they appeared in, propelled their album of the same name back to the top of the Christian charts. Then, their single “We Believe” from their latest album Restart became a big Christian radio hit. I was a little surprised that they were releasing new music at this time, but still excited that for the first time in the band’s history, the Newsboys have recorded a collection of classic hymns (they have released three previous albums of worship songs). The new album features the group’s take on nine classic hymns and one new selection, the title song and first single, written by Ross King and Todd Wright.

Doing your version of classic hymns is a risky proposition as these songs are dear to many. There is a fine line between being faithful to the traditional rendering and showing creativity as an artist. The best I saw at creativity was Jars of Clay’s excellent Redemption Songs.  The Newsboys play it pretty safe with Hallelujah to the Cross, making a few tweaks to the songs and using a sound similar to their current radio hit “We Believe”.

Lead singer Michael Tait stated “Hymns are important to me. We picked through songs that went way, way, way back into my past and my dad’s Baptist church. I love modern worship but I just love that old stuff because they were written in such desperate and perilous times, and out of great pain comes great resolve, I think. When I sing them, they go deeper in ways to me than a lot of things I reach out for when I’m in that spiritual drought.”

The album is produced by Seth Mosley, who also produced the Newsboys’ past two albums, God’s Not Dead and Restart. Below are a few brief comments about each of the songs:
All Creatures of our God and King – The end of the song includes a new modern worship chorus. 

Where You Belong/Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus (Medley) – This is an updated (more upbeat) version of the medley that appeared on the band’s 1995 Not Ashamed album.

His Eye Is On The Sparrow – This song rocks harder than the traditional hymn.
Hallelujah For The Cross – This is the first single released from the project and the only newly written song on the album.
It Is Well – This version rocks harder is has a faster pace than the traditional hymn.
Jesus Paid It All – This song was released on last year’s Jesus Firm Foundation: Hymns of Worship. The end of the song includes a new modern worship chorus.
I Surrender All – The band keeps the pace about the same as the traditional hymn.
What A Friend We Have In Jesus – Michael Tait’s vocal here is less full-throated than usual. Some additional features that add to the song.
Holy Holy Holy – The band slows down the pace for one of my favorite hymns. They add some additional lyrics to the chorus: “You are holy, holy, holy”.
All Hail The Power Of Jesus Name – The band ends the album with a beautiful a Capella version of the song showcasing the voices of the entire band, not just Tait. This is perhaps my favorite song on the album.

This is a solid effort from the Newsboys, which will hopefully introduce these classic hymns to a new generation.

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Integrating Faith and Work: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and WorkGood Leaders Ask Great Questions by John Maxwell

Book Review: Good Leaders Ask Great Questions: Your Foundation to Successful Leadership by John C. Maxwell


Should you do what you love, or love what you’re doing?

Can Work Ever Be Good News? Here is the beginning of a series of ten posts featuring artwork from the Christians in the Visual Arts exhibit, “Work: Curse or Calling?

Three Points about Common Grace Every Businessperson Should Consider. Dr. Vincent Bacote looks at the relationship between common grace and business that was addressed Calvin College Business Department and the Acton Institute co-sponsored the Symposium on Common Grace and Business.

Yes, You Do Know Your “Calling”. Dan Miller addresses the subject of calling and includes a 48-minute audio on “Is Your Job Your Calling?”

On this “Minute with Maxwell”, John Maxwell discusses the word ‘contentment’.

Only the Gospel, Not Our Vocations Can Truly Change Us. In this excerpt from his book Work Matters: Connecting Sunday Worship to Monday Work, Tom Nelson writes “Hard work, however noble, without a relationship with the Father proves empty, meaningless, and despairing.”

ReFrame has launched! ReFrame is a 10 week video-based discipleship course that helps you answer questions such as “how does my story fit into God’s story?” and “does my day-to-day life matter to God?”  It features lectures by Regent College faculty, interviews with prominent Christian thought-leaders, and stories of everyday Christians asking questions about how the Gospel reframes their lives.

Work is a glorious thing. John Piper writes “Come, leave off sloth and idleness. Become what you were made to be. Work.”

Why Most Web-Sites Are Hard To Use – And What To Do About It. Matt Heerema writes that most web-sites are unnecessarily difficult to use, and there is one core reason for this.

The Seven Qualities of Perfect Teammates. Dan Rockwell writes “Everyone is irritating. They either do things that bug you, or, they leave something undone, and that bugs you. What does a perfect teammate look like?”

What’s in It for Me? What motivates your leadership choices? A desire to succeed, a need for human applause, or a desire for God’s approval?

John Maxwell BookJohn Maxwell writes leadership lessons from the great prophet Elijah from his upcoming book Learning from the Giants.

Eight Ways to Honor Your Leaders. Brad Lomenick writes that “Leading is not easy. And it’s even more difficult if those on your team aren’t equipped well to follow. We all have leaders that we work with, for and around. And every leader I know values being honored and respected. Honor is a really big thing. And incredibly important as it relates to being part of a team.

How to Get Things Done: Using Your Calendar Effectively. Tim Challies continues his series on productivity from a biblical perspective. In this article he focuses on a scheduling tool – calendars.

What Does It Take to Manage Your Faith, Work, and Family? Diane Paddison writes “When you’re in that important meeting and your phone rings, you should take the call, but not before you’ve laid some important groundwork.”

Quotes from Matt Perman:

  • The role of the leader is to help build intelligence, judgment, and character. It is not to control people.
  • Servant leaders also see themselves as accountable to those they lead.        

Faith and Work Book Clubs – Won’t you read along with us?

What’s Best Next Book Club What's Best Next

What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done by Matt Perman

We continue with our overview of this new book on productivity from a Christian perspective. This week we look at Chapter 21: Managing Projects and Actions.

God at Work Book ClubGod at Work

God at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of Life by Gene Edward Veith Jr.

When we recently visited St. Andrews Chapel where R.C. Sproul is one of the pastors, this book was the church’s “Book of the Month”. I’m excited to read it. We’ll look at a chapter each week – won’t you read along with us? This week we cover Chapter 3: The Purpose of Vocation.

The Gospel at Work Book ClubThe Gospel at Work

The Gospel at Work: How Working for King Jesus Gives Purpose and Meaning to Our Jobs by Sebastian Traeger and Greg D. Gilbert

I’m involved in a book club with peers at work discussing this book. Last week we concluded the book with beginning with Chapter 10: Is Full-Time Ministry More Valuable Than My Job?


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Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me Movie Review

Glen Campbell MovieGlen Campbell: I’ll Be Me, rated PG

Glen Campbell has sold more than 50 million records, including country/pop hits “Gentle on My Mind”, Wichita Lineman” and “Rhinestone Cowboy”. Prior to achieving stardom as a solo artist he was a respected session player, playing with the likes of Frank Sinatra and the Beach Boys. He has five Grammy Awards, is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, had his own television program (The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour), and co-starred in the original film version of True Grit.

He also struggled with substance abuse, has been married four times and has eight children. He, his wife of nearly 30 years Kim, and their three children are people of faith, which has helped them get through the news that became public in 2011 – that the then 75 year old Glen had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease just as his final album Ghost on the Canvas was being released. This film, directed by James Keach, documents Campbell’s on and off stage challenges of his farewell tour, a 151 show tour (including a stop in Bloomington, Illinois), which ended in 2012 when he was no longer able to perform. His three youngest children were a part of his backing band.

The film begins with Glen and Kim at the Mayo Clinic when they receive the official diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. You can argue whether they should have taken Glen on the road for the final tour or not (apparently some of his ex-wives and older children were against the idea), but the fact is that they did, giving his fans one last chance to see him in concert.

At times the film was very difficult to watch, as you see him deteriorating as the tour progresses. At other times, you are amazed that once onstage he can still deliver incredible guitar solos, and with the aid of a teleprompter still sing his well-loved songs to the delight of the supportive audiences.

The film includes a number of interviews with music stars such as Bruce Springsteen, and Edge from U2, who comment about Campbell. The most powerful clips are those from country stars Kathy Mattea and Brad Paisley who talk about their own loved one’s battles with Alzheimer’s.

Toward the end of the film, with the help of others, including his former session band the Wrecking Crew, Campbell is able to record his final song, the moving “I’m Not Gonna Miss You”, a song he wrote for Kim.

The film is helping to raise awareness for the need for additional funding to fight the disease, and features a clip of daughter Ashley speaking before a Congressional committee on the matter. Campbell, now 78, was moved to a specialized Alzheimer’s treatment facility in 2014.

Alive-Inside-Film-Poster-2014Note: We are looking forward to seeing the documentary, ALIVE INSIDE.  It is a joyous cinematic exploration of music’s capacity to reawaken our souls and uncover the deepest parts of our humanity. Filmmaker Michael Rossato-Bennett chronicles the astonishing experiences of individuals around the country who have been revitalized through the simple experience of listening to music. His camera reveals the uniquely human connection we find in music and how its healing power can triumph where prescription medication falls short.

This stirring documentary follows social worker Dan Cohen, founder of the nonprofit organization Music & Memory, as he fights against a broken healthcare system to demonstrate music’s ability to combat memory loss and restore a deep sense of self to those suffering from it. Rossato-Bennett visits family members who have witnessed the miraculous effects of personalized music on their loved ones, and offers illuminating interviews with experts including renowned neurologist and best-selling author Oliver Sacks (Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain) and musician Bobby McFerrin (“Don’t Worry, Be Happy”).


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Big Hero 6 Movie Review

Big Hero 6Big Hero 6, rated PG
*** ½

This film is getting excellent reviews (91% critics and 94% from moviegoers on It is loosely based on an obscure comic book. It takes place in San Fransokyo, an imaginative mixing of San Francisco and Tokyo, and stars Hiro (voiced by Ryan Potter). Hiro is a brilliant 14 year old who has already graduated from high school. He and his brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney) lost their parents sometime in the past and now live with their likeable Aunt Cass (Maya Rudolph). Hiro spends his time winning money in back-alley illegal robot fights.

Tadashi takes him to his college robotics lab to try to encourage him to attend the school. There Hiro meets Go Go Tomago (Jamie Chung), Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez), Wasabi (Damon Wayans Jr.) and Fred (T.J. Miller). Tadashi also shows him Baymax (Scott Adsit). Baymax is Tadashi’s robotics project – an inflatable robot designed to tend to the sick (think of a giant Pillsbury Dough Boy).

Hiro is encouraged and wants to attend the school. Tedashi encourages Hiro to develop a project to present at a science fair at the school. He presents his microbots, which wows the crowd, and he is accepted at the college by Professor Callaghan (James Cromwell). But his joy is short-lived as just minutes later the building that hosted the fair goes up in flames and Tadashi is killed as he goes back into the building in an attempt to save his beloved professor. Tadashi is crushed after losing his brother and best friend.

Days later, when a depressed Hiro is in his room (which he shared with Tadashi), Baymax rises out of his container. He quickly becomes Hiro’s new best friend. It was this part of the film that was probably most enjoyable to the many children in the audience, and I really enjoyed hearing them laugh at Baymax.

To Hiro’s surprise, one of his microbots survived the fire. It leads Hiro and Baymax to an abandoned warehouse where they realize that the fire was not an accident. This is where the film changes. There is much less humor and it turns into a super hero film. We won’t share any more, or we would spoil it for you.Winston in Feast

I really enjoyed the film, but didn’t see the whole super hero thing coming. Tammy loved the first half of the film and didn’t like the second half as much.

Get there early enough to see the enjoyable short film Feast, which precedes Big Hero 6. Feast is the story of one man’s love life as seen through the eyes of his best friend and dog, Winston, and revealed bite by bite through the meals they share. As dog lovers we really enjoyed it.

And stay through the end of the credits for Big Hero 6 to see a Marvel film-like reveal about Fred.

If you see the film, write us and let us know what you think of it.


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