Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

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Stan and Ollie, rated PG
*** ½

Stan and Ollie is a well-made, funny and at times emotional film about the final tour of the popular comedy team of Laurel and Hardy. The film is directed by Jon S. Baird and written by Oscar nominee Jeff Pope (Philomena), based on the book Laurel and Hardy: The British Tours by A.J. Marriot.
The film begins in 1937 on the set of the film Way Out West being filmed at the Hal Roach Studios. Laurel and Hardy are at the peak of their popularity, but Stan Laurel, played by two-time Oscar nominee Steve Coogan (Philomena) doesn’t feel that Roach, played by Golden Globe nominee Danny Huston (Magic City), is adequately compensating them, and he plans to push for more money for the duo. Oliver Hardy, played by Oscar nominee John C. Reilly (Chicago), doesn’t want him to push too hard, as he has debts – multiple marriages, gambling on the horses – so he is fine to keep his job with the salary just as it is. Oliver is under a different contract, and so when Stan leaves Roach, Oliver is forced to stay and partner with comedian Harry Langdon in the 1939 film Zenobia.
The movie then moves forward to 1953. The duo goes on a comeback tour of Scotland, London and Ireland to encourage a London-based film producer to finance a Robin Hood film. By this time, Hardy has gained more weight, and has heart and knee problems. Throughout the tour we see Laurel working hard on the Robin Hood film script. Continue reading

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41: A Portrait of My Father by George W. Bush. Crown. 284 pages. 2014


George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st President of the United States was the only President in modern times not to write a memoir. His son, George W. Bush the 43rd President, has written this book that he says is not objective, but instead a love story from a son to his father. The book opens with an account of Bush the elder celebrating his 90th birthday with a parachute jump.
George H. W. Bush’s father was an accomplished golfer, United States Senator and investment banker. He started the family tradition of attending Yale. Bush’s mother, who died shortly after he lost his re-election bid to Bill Clinton, was a woman of strong faith.
Bush joined the Navy shortly after the Pearl Harbor attack, enlisting on his eighteenth birthday in 1942. He served for three years. During that time, he was shot down by the Japanese in the Pacific and rescued as the Japanese were trying to capture him. At age 78 he would return to the site and meet one of the Japanese soldiers that was there that day.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review and a review of Love Does for Kids by Bob and Lindsey Goff
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ How the Nations Rage: Rethinking Faith and Politics in a Divided Age by Jonathan Leeman

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American Gospel: Christ Alone (not rated)

American Gospel: Christ Alone, available on Amazon and iTunes), looks at the biblical Gospel, and contrasts it with the so-called prosperity gospel, which is no gospel at all (Galatians 1:6,7). Unfortunately, America has exported the prosperity (health and wealth) gospel to other nations, which has caused significant problems for missionaries who go to those countries to teach the true Gospel. Through interviews, excellent graphics by Jason Jean and Les Lanphere (Calvinist) which include numerous bible passages, film clips of actual prosperity teachers/faith healers, the film, written and directed by Brandon Kimber, shows in a straight-forward manner that the Gospel is not Jesus plus anything else (works, tradition, healing, wealth). But using the actual words of the prosperity teachers and faith healers, the prosperity gospel is shown to be the evil that it is. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 11:13 that such men (and women) are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. He gives a chilling warning in v. 15 that their end will correspond to their deeds. Continue reading

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THIS & THAT: A Weekly Roundup of Favorite Articles, Cartoons & Quotes

  • The 50% Lie. Steven Ingino writes “You’ve heard it repeatedly on radio, podcasts, and TV. You’ve read it in various books and articles. You’ve even heard it in your pastor’s sermon. The problem: it’s a lie. “50% of all marriages end in divorce.”
  • Friends Are For the Darkness. Stephen Altrogge writes “If one of your friends is struggling with depression, you want to fix it for them. To take away the sorrow and dispel the clouds of gloom. To take their hand and lead them back into the land of the living. But I can say from experience that things simply don’t work that way. You can’t tell a person to snap out of depression any more than you can tell someone to snap out of a migraine.”
  • Obligation, Stewardship and the Poor. Kevin DeYoung writes “As you consider your personal obligation to the poor and your church’s corporate obligation, keep in mind these two principles: proximity and necessity.”
  • Tim Keller on Nationalism, Race, and What Jonah Misunderstood About Grace. On this edition of the Gospel Coalition podcast, Maina Mwaura asked Tim Keller why he wrote a book on Jonah and what modern-day attitudes are reflected in the prodigal prophet. Keller points out that Jonah didn’t recognize his own lack of merit before God, which made him reluctant to extend grace to pagan people. “Because he didn’t grasp the gospel of grace in his own life,” Keller says, “he was a terrible missionary.”
  • On Hospitality and the Gospel. On this episode of the 9Marks podcast Pastors’ Talk, Jonathan Leeman sat down with Kent and Rosaria Butterfield to talk about the privilege of hospitality, the gospel, Rosaria’s latest book, and Kent’s recent 9Marks article.

  • Lauren Daigle, Persecution, and the Church’s Opportunity for Witness. Owen Strachen writes “Whatever platform we carve out in the providence of God is not given us for its own sake. If we are truly a Christian, and we truly have some measure of influence, that influence is not our own. We do not own it. That influence is God’s. That platform is God’s. Those opportunities are bought and paid for by the bloody cross of Christ. That chance to answer a hostile question, a question that could possibly derail all the hard work we’ve put in to have a public voice, is a chance given us by God for the glory of his name.” Here is Mike Leake’s take on the story.

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The Kid Who Would Be King, rated PG

The Kid Who Would Be King is a heartwarming fantasy film that parents can enjoy with children, ages eight and above. There are some scenes that would be too frightening for younger children. This enjoyable film includes adventure, comedy and a good cast.  The film is written and directed by Joe Cornish (Ant-Man). He indicated that the film’s title is a playful reference to the title of the 1975 film The Man Who Would Be King.
The film begins with an overview of the story of King Arthur, who used the magical sword Excalibur to lead England during a time of war. He was a good king, but his half-sister Morgana turned to dark sorcery in hopes of stealing the sword and Arthur’s throne. Arthur defeated her, but she threatened to return one day.
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He made the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows its time for setting.  Psalm 104:18

I’ve lived in Illinois my entire life thus far, and have no plans to change that. One advantage of living in the Midwest (according to my wife Tammy) is that we get to experience all four seasons – spring, summer, fall and winter. If I had my choice however, I would leave it at summer and call it a day. San Diego’s climate sounds good to me, but I remember a team member who absolutely loves the winters in Minnesota, which are even worse than Illinois.
Tammy tries to talk me through the winter. She’ll tell me that in December we have the holiday season, so it will go quickly.  We also have the shortest day of the year, so the days will begin to get longer.  Continue reading

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13 Great Quotes on Work from Irresistible Faith by Scott Sauls

One of my favorite new books is Scott Sauls’ Irresistible Faith: Becoming the Kind of Christian The World Can’t Resist.  You can read my review of the book here.   
Scott writes that Christians operating with a sense of joy, purpose, and mission in their work are integral components of irresistible faith. Here are 13 great quotes on work from the book:

  • Because Christ worked tirelessly and joyfully for our rescue, restoration, and renewal through his life, death, burial, and resurrection, we now have the greatest reason to work toward the rescuing, restoring, and renewing of God’s world.
  • It is important for Christians especially, to view work as central and not peripheral to our humanity, and especially to our life in Christ.
  • It is no small thing that when God identified work as essential to the human experience, he did so before the fall and the curse happened, not after.
  • Work, all productive activity apart from rest and play, contributes to our fulfillment as God’s image-bearers. It is one of the primary ways we have been invited by God to participate in his mission to redeem, restore, and develop the world.
  • Because we bear God’s image, work is necessary for our flourishing and also for the fulfillment of our calling as God’s workers in God’s world.
  • What if, in the spirit of Scripture’s vision for the integration of faith and work, Christians became known as the bosses everyone wants to work for, the colleagues everyone wants to work alongside, and the employees everyone wants to hire (Ephesians 6:5–9)?
  • We cannot and will not fully flourish unless we become personally invested in the universal Christian job description—to use our time, energy, imagination, and resources to leave God’s world better than we found it.
  • We are wired to mirror God through creation and restoration, and in so doing to leave people, places, and things better than we found them.
  • It is essential to see that every kind of work that creates something new or enhances something broken or lacking is glorious because of how it intersects with God’s ongoing creative mission in the world.
  • Any kind of work that leaves people, places, or things in better shape than before—any kind of work that helps the city of man become more like the City of God where truth, beauty, goodness, order, and justice reign—is work that should be celebrated as good.
  • Every vocation is a calling from God to nudge the Garden toward becoming an irresistible, life-giving City that we have been made to inhabit.
  • As the image of God, every time we participate in work that creates and restores, we also participate in God’s work of leaving people, places, and things better.
  • In the gospel, just as every person is equal in significance to other people, so every vocation is equal in significance to other vocations.

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Book Review ~ IRRESISTIBLE FAITH by Scott Sauls

Irresistible Faith: Becoming the Kind of Christian the World Can’t Resist by Scott Sauls. Thomas Nelson. 224 pages. 2019

This is Pastor Scott Sauls’ fourth book. I always find his books challenging and quite helpful. Irresistible Faith is no exception. The “Foreword” is written by Bob Goff who writes that the book is an invitation for us to return to the most authentic version of our faith. It’s also an invitation to join, or create, an authentic community of people trying to go somewhere beautiful with their faith. He states that Scott has given us some beautiful reminders about what each of us needs and about the Someone we can trust to go with. Continue reading

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20 Great Quotes on Work, Vocation and Leadership from “God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Book of Proverbs” by Tim Keller with Kathy Keller

Tim and Kathy Keller followed The Songs of Jesus, their excellent devotional book on the Psalms, with a second devotional book, God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life on the Proverbs. Here are 25 great quotes on work, vocation and leadership from the book:

  • If you have been enjoying any success, have you been secretly taking credit for it? Are you seeing it as the gift of God that it is?
  • We should habitually seek out others who know more than we do about a subject and learn from them. We should have an entire life marked by being teachable rather than opinionated.
  • After getting advice from others, choose the best course in light of: any relevant biblical texts, the opinion of authorities (in family, church, and state), your conscience (James 4:17), an examination of your motives, the best use of your gifts and abilities in God’s service, and finally an assessment of your decision’s impact on others.
  • Nothing is trivial. When you comb your hair, you bring order out of chaos, as God did at the beginning (Genesis 1:1–3). Do everything for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).

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My Review of GLASS

Glass, rated PG-13
** ½

Glass is a psychological thriller and the finale of a trilogy from two-time Oscar nominee director M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense), who also wrote the screenplay for the film. The film brings together super hero characters introduced in his 2000 film Unbreakable and his 2016 film Split, the latter a surprise success after a few very disappointing films.
In Unbreakable, we met comic book expert Elijah Price/Mr. Glass played by Oscar nominee Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction). Elijah was born with a birth defect which left his bones very brittle and susceptible to breaks. As a result, as a child, he was mockingly called Mr. Glass by his peers. David Dunn, played by Golden Globe winner Bruce Willis (Moonlighting), is a security guard at a football stadium in Philadelphia with a troubled marriage and young son. He is the sole survivor of a terrible train crash. In fact, he didn’t even have a scratch on him. Elijah tells Dunn that he has been searching for him, someone who is special, indestructible. The film ends with Price, known as Mr. Glass, admitting to being behind several tragedies, including the train crash. He is put into an institution while Dunn begins to serve the public as a hooded vigilante.
In Split, we met mentally ill Kevin Wendell Crumb, played by Golden Globe nominee James McAvoy (Atonement), a man with 24 different personalities and sole survivor Casey, played by Anya Taylor-Joy, who was forced to discover her strengths while being held captive. The film ends with a surprise connection to Unbreakable, setting up the new film. Continue reading