Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


Leave a comment

MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS


Live in Denver – TobyMac
*** ½

TobyMac, who is currently charting with his single “Help Is On The Way (Maybe Midnight)” has released a new live album Live in Denver.  The project features 15 songs from his Hits Deep early 2020 Tour, and includes collaborations with Terrian, Aaron Cole, Cochren & Co. and Ryan Stevenson. This follows his 2016 live album Hits Deep Live. Live in Denver is currently only available in a digital format. A CD/DVD version will be released September 10.
The track list focuses heavily on later career songs, including “21 Years”, the 2020 song he wrote after son Truett died, 8 from 2018’s The Elements, 3 from 2015’s This is Not a Test, and 2 from 2012’s Eye on It. He also includes “Lose My Soul” from Portable Sounds.
The complete track list and the album the song was originally on, is below:

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

  • More of this review and a review of The Work Tapes EP by Wilder Woods
  • Music News
  • Song of the Week Lyrics:  Almost Home by Matt Papa and Matt Boswell

Continue reading


2 Comments

BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

Brave by Faith: God-Sized Confidence in a Post-Christian World by Alistair Begg. The Good Book Company. 98 pages. 2021
****

Pastor and author Alistair Begg tells us that secularism pushes back again and again against what the Bible says about sexual ethics, about salvation, about education, about the role and reach of the state, and about matters of public welfare. Public opinion has turned against Christians in America. Christians are suddenly a minority group within an increasingly secularized nation. We are finding out how it feels to be outsiders, and we don’t like it.
He tells us that the message of the book of Daniel is incredibly relevant for us in our generation. The message of Daniel is this: don’t be discouraged. You have not reached home. This isn’t it. And Jesus shall reign.
Begg uses the familiar first seven chapters of the book of Daniel to teach American Christians what it looks like to live as a Christian in a society that does not like what Christians believe, what we say, and how we live. He writes that we will be able to navigate our present moment to the extent that we realize that the God of the exiles in the sixth century BC has not changed in the intervening two and a half millennia. God is powerful, and God is sovereign, and even in the face of circumstances that appear to be prevailing against his people, we may trust him entirely.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review…
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ Providence by John Piper
I’M CURRENTLY READING…. Continue reading


Leave a comment

We are Not in Control, But God Is

I try to live a life of control. I’m a planner, and like to live my life in a planned, orderly, and controlled manner. That’s just the way I’m wired. You may be like me, or you may live your life in a more impulsive manner. Either way, living a carefully planned life, or an impulsive one, we need to realize that we are not in control. That’s just not how life works. But while we are not in control of our lives, we can take comfort that God is.
Often, as I would walk into my workplace from the parking lot, I would look at the massive complex that I was walking toward and pray, “Lord, I don’t know what is going to happen today, but you do.” Our lives can be going along well, with everything proceeding as planned, and then something happens that we didn’t see coming. I remember that happening early on a Friday morning a few years ago heading to my weekly faith and work book club with good friends before a holiday weekend, only to be stunned just a few hours later when I got a call that my father-in-law had died.
This happened again when we got a phone call telling us that my Dad had been taken to the ER, and was going to be admitted with cardiac issues. In the days before this, my wife Tammy had commented after we had a few open days on our calendar, that she was thankful for those days because she knew that it would not always be like that. She wondered if we were being prepared for something.
You can substitute similar unplanned things that that have taken you by surprise in your life. We’re going along just fine, doing routine things in our daily life, with activities all planned out, and then something happens that we didn’t see coming. How are we to respond? Continue reading


Leave a comment

THIS & THAT: A Roundup of Favorite Articles and Quotes

  • 5 Foundations That Lead to Compromise on Sexual Ethics. Brett McCracken writes “In the landscape of contemporary Western Christianity, most roads away from orthodox faith travel through an increasingly populous pit stop called “LGBTQ+ affirming.” It’s a stop that doesn’t just change the route; it reconfigures the whole map.”
  • Identity Politics and the Death of Christian Unity. Jonathan Leeman spoke on this topic at the 2020 Together for the Gospel Conference. Watch his breakout session. You can also follow along with his outline, or read his manuscript.
  • Dogma Drives the Christian Life. Carl Trueman writes “One thing, though, is certain: The days when Christians could be both respected by their society and faithful to their beliefs are drawing rapidly to a close.”
  • Netflix’s ‘Pray Away’ Seethes with Contempt for Christianity. Becket Cook writes “Netflix’s latest original documentary, Pray Away—about the reparative therapy organization Exodus International—is yet another thinly veiled attack on Christianity by Hollywood.”
  • The FAQs: What You Should Know About COVID Variants. Joe Carter writes “New variants of COVID are leading to some of the worst outbreaks since the start of the pandemic. Countries in Southeast Asia are seeing rapid rises in case numbers and deaths. The Delta variant is also causing outbreaks throughout the United States, especially in states such as Arkansas, Missouri, and Nevada, which have low vaccination rates.”

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

  • More interesting article links
  • Favorite Quotes of the Week

Continue reading


Leave a comment

FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

  • Arrogance in the Workplace is Serious Business. John Kyle writes “The good news is that the Holy Spirit is ever-present in our lives. He teaches and guides us through God’s Word and enables us to see things in ourselves that we can’t see on our own.”
  • How to Receive Criticism with Grace. Scott Sauls writes “Because everyone is flawed, everyone can also expectcriticism from time to time. But these days, a carefully timed, well-placed call-out can have the outsized effect of “canceling” someone socially, culturally, professionally, denominationally, or otherwise.”
  • How Can I Stop Sexual Harassment Before It Starts? Charlie Self responds to the question “My secular workplace has detailed policies on how to address sexual harassment when it happens, but as a manager, I’d rather stop it before it begins. Do you have any advice on how I might do that?”
  • Peace of Mind in a Rapidly Changing World. Joshua Nangle writes “If he called you, he will sustain you to the end because, ultimately, your life is not about you. It is about him, and what he starts, he finishes.”

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

  • More links to interesting articles
  • The Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week
  • My Review of The Multi-Directional Leader: Responding Wisely to Challenges from Every Side by Trevin Wax
  • Snippets from the book Work and Worship: Reconnecting Our Labor and Liturgy by Matthew Kaemingk and Cory B. Willson

Continue reading


1 Comment

11 Ways You Can Be Salt and Light in the Workplace

In his “Sermon on the Mount”, Jesus calls his disciples to be the “salt of the earth” (Matthew 5 v. 13), and the “light of the world (v. 14):  
You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

John Stott, in his article “Four Ways Christians Can Influence the World”, writes about being the salt of the earth and light of the world: Continue reading


Leave a comment

MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS


Canyon – Ellie Holcomb
**** 

I first heard Ellie Holcomb on the song “Elizabeth”, a song she wrote with Kristyn Getty and included on the 2017 album Sing! – An Irish Christmas: Live at the Grand Ole Opry House. Watch a live performance of the song here.
I was attracted to this album by a tweet from NEEDTOBREATHE indicating that lead singer Bear Rinehart had teamed up with Holcomb for “Sweet Ever After”. I’m glad I checked out the album, as it’s one of my favorites of 2021.
The album was inspired by a trip Holcomb took to the Grand Canyon last summer. She has said that the songs, born out of a season of a lot of personal and global (COVID-19, racial tension, tornado, etc.) loss, feel like a soundtrack to healing and hope.  Canyon, produced by Cason Colley, is Holcomb’s follow-up to her 2017 Red Sea Road album. She wrote or co-wrote all of the songs. Her father, Christian music veteran Brown Bannister served as executive producer.
Here are a few brief comments about each song:

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

  • More of this review and a review of Chris Tomlin & Friends: Summer EP
  • Music News
  • Song of the Week Lyrics

Continue reading


Leave a comment

BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

Knowing God and Ourselves: Reading Calvin’s Institutes Devotionally by David B. Calhoun. Banner of Truth. 360 pages. 2016
****
I enjoyed two wonderful church history classes with Dr. Calhoun, who recently went home to be with the Lord, at the beginning of my time at Covenant Seminary.  For twenty-five years he taught a course on Calvin’s Institutes at Covenant Seminary. The Institutes of the Christian Religion is a manual, a book of basic instruction in the Christian religion. It is a book about Christian piety, about Christian discipleship, about loving and serving God.
The goal of the book is to help students, especially beginning students of Calvin’s Institutes to better understand what they are reading and to encourage them to persist in working through that important, but challenging book. Overall, Dr. Calhoun’s goal is to help the reader understand Calvin. Each chapter begins with the pages in the Institutes to read, a scripture text, a notable quote and a prayer. Each chapter ends “Knowing God and Ourselves”, a short application and meditation on Calvin’s content. Dr. Calhoun tells us that reading the Institutes devotionally is not merely one way of reading Calvin’s book, it is the only way to read it. Calvin intended his book to be a guide and a theological companion to the Bible.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review…
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ Providence by John Piper
I’M CURRENTLY READING…. Continue reading


Leave a comment

What are You Willing to Risk?

I tend to be pretty conservative when it comes to risk. I can remember years ago when our church was still renting property and were looking to build a church building. Some of the church leaders were on one side of the debate, saying that we needed to take a risk and trust that God would provide the funds. I was on the other side, and though I certainly believe in trusting God, my mind was wondering how we were possibly going to be able to pay the monthly payment on the building loan. Another example is the investment strategy that my wife Tammy and I have. We would like to make a fair return, but we are not willing to take a high degree of risk with our money.
In all walks of life, I tend to take well thought out, or informed, risks. I gather as much information as I can to make a well-informed decision. Over the years, I may have frustrated some by not taking more risk, or making decisions more quickly, but that’s the way I approach significant decisions. Continue reading


1 Comment

THIS & THAT: A Roundup of Favorite Articles and Quotes

  • Call it Racism, Not “White Supremacy”. Samuel D. James writes “All variables equal, I think it’s a mistake for Christian social justice advocates to adopt the mainstream practice of talking about “white supremacy” and “whiteness” instead of sticking with “racism.””
  • 9 Things You Should Know About Mainline Protestantism. Joe Carter writes “Who exactly are mainline Protestants? Here is what you should know about the faith tradition that once dominated the American religious landscape.”

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

  • More interesting article links
  • Favorite Quotes of the Week

Continue reading