Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS


Versatile – Van Morrison
****

The 72-year old Morrison follows his excellent September, 2017 blues album Roll with the Punches with the self-produced Versatile, his 38th studio album. The appropriately titled Versatile focuses on his interpretation of nine of the 20th century’s greatest vocal jazz standards, as well as 3 new jazz-influenced originals, three new versions of songs he’s previously recorded, “I Forgot That Love Existed,” “Only A Dream” and “Start All Over Again”, and an arrangement of the Scottish traditional “Skye Boat Song.” I thoroughly enjoyed this album, especially the more upbeat arrangements. It’s hard to go wrong with Morrison’s singing, excellent musicians and some great songs.
Below are a few brief comments about each of the songs:

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  • More of this review and a review of You’re Driving Me Crazy by Van Morrison and Joey DeFrancesco
  • Music News
  • Music Quotes
  • Song of the Week Lyrics

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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional by Paul David Tripp. Crossway. 384 pages. 2004
****

Each morning, Paul Tripp tweets three gospel thoughts about the Christian faith on Twitter. His goal with the tweets is to confront and comfort people with the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He wants people to see that the grace of the gospel is not so much about changing the religious aspect of their lives, but about everything in life that defines, identifies, and motivates them. Through his daily tweets, he is calling people to see the gospel as a window through which they are to look at everything in life.
Those daily tweets inspired this book of 365 daily devotional readings, a book I am using as a part of my daily readings this year. Each day’s reading opens with one of his gospel tweets, lightly edited, and then a meditation that expands on the tweet. The reading ends with a passage of scripture included under “For Further Study and Encouragement”.
The author writes that the devotional is a call for us to remember…

  • The horrible disaster of sin
  • Jesus, who stood in our place.
  • The transforming power of the grace we couldn’t have earned.
  • The destiny that is guaranteed to all of God’s blood-purchased children.
  • His sovereignty and his glory.
  • The remembering is spiritual war, and for this we need grace.

The title of the book is not only a reference to the way the Bible talks about grace, but also an allusion to the hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness”, lyrics written by Thomas Chisholm and music by William M. Runyan:
Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see
I look forward to reading through the daily readings in this book this coming year.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
BOOK REVIEWS ~ The Gospel Comes with a House Key: Practicing Radically Ordinary Hospitality in Our Post-Christian World by Rosaria Butterfield and Take Heart: Christian Courage in the Age of Unbelief by Matt Chandler
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ How the Nations Rage: Rethinking Faith and Politics in a Divided Age by Jonathan Leeman
I’M CURRENTLY READING…. Continue reading


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Why Did Jesus Weep?

Recently I’ve been studying John 10-12 to prepare for a teaching opportunity. Studying a passage of scripture is very different from just casually reading it. As we engage with the text we are studying, it will at times raise good questions for us. In John 11, we read about the well-known story of Jesus raising his friend Lazarus from the dead, the miracle that will eventually lead to the cross.
If you remember the story, we are told that Lazarus was ill. His sisters, Mary and Martha, send a message to Jesus that ‘he whom you love is ill’. You might think that Jesus will immediately head to Bethany when he got that news (although He didn’t need to go to Bethany to heal him). However, when Jesus received the message, He stated “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” (John 11:4). He then stayed where he was two days longer. Jesus was not in Bethany before Lazarus died so that his disciples might believe. He knew that he would raise Lazarus, resulting in his disciples seeing his power made manifest, and they be strengthened in their faith. God would bring good out of the agony of Lazarus’ death. Continue reading


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My Review of THEY SHALL NOT GROW OLD

They Shall Not Grow Old, rated R
****

They Shall Not Grow Old is an amazing documentary made to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day (November 11, 1918), which ended the fighting in World War I. The film is directed by three-time Oscar winner Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King) who did not take a fee for the making of the film. Jackson dedicated the film to his grandfather who fought, and was injured, in the war.
The theatre presentation of the film begins with Jackson making a few brief comments to the audience, telling them that he will be back after the ending credits to talk about how the film was made. I would highly recommend you stay for that portion of the presentation as it added a lot to the entire experience as he talks about the film’s scope, approach, sound, colorization, music and purpose.
In the film, Jackson focuses on the life of the ordinary British foot soldier. He chose not to use a narrator, as is common for a documentary, but instead to use the actual voices of British soldiers who took part in the war from decades old BBC recordings of war veterans recounting their actual experiences in the trenches on the Western Front. Continue reading


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My Review of FREE SOLO

Free Solo, rated PG-13
****

Free Solo is an Oscar nominated documentary about professional adventure rock climber Alex Honnold, who successfully climbed the imposing, nearly vertical 3,200-foot granite formation El Capitan in Yosemite National Park on June 3, 2017. Incredibly, Honnold climbs the imposing wall without any climbing equipment (ropes, etc.), which is known as free soloing. The film is directed by Jimmy Chin (Meru) and wife Elizabeth Chai Vasarhely (Meru), who along with the film’s producers Evan Hayes and Shannon Dill, received an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary Feature for the film.
Honnold, now 33 years old, tells us that he is a loner and has lived in a van for nine years. We see a family photo of him climbing a wall, and hear that he started at a climbing gym at the age of 5. His parents divorced during his first year of college and he dropped out after that year. He comes across as driven, relationally distant, and yet likeable. Alex has had girlfriends, but honestly states that he will always choose climbing over girls. In this film, we meet a girlfriend, the likeable Sanni McCandless, who meets Alex at a book signing. (McCandless is now a “transition coach for outdoor-focused individuals who want to create more tailored, intentional lifestyles and find agency in their own lives”). In the film, Alex is never able to give Sanni what she truly needs in a healthy relationship – her expectations of him are met with disappointment. Maybe because growing up he never heard the world “love” nor was he ever hugged. Continue reading


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

  • Teach Your Teen How to Read Their Bible. Jen Wilkin writes “Parents contact me frequently to ask what devotionals or young adult Bible studies I would recommend they do with their teens. As our kids enter the teen years, our responsibility as their parents is to help them develop good habits of interacting with the Bible. Finding an approach that is age-appropriate and manageable is key. My encouragement is to simply read the Bible with your teen in a way that models and trains Bible literacy—no special teen resource required.”
  • Get a Basic Overview of the Bible.C. Sproul writes “Once you understand the basic framework, you are much better equipped to read the Bible. Here is a pattern I recommend for people who have never read the Bible.”

PREACHING THE WORD

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  • More interesting article links
  • Great cartoons
  • The Favorite Quotes of the Week

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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

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  • More links to interesting articles
  • The Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week
  • My Review of Christians on the Job: Winning at Work Without Compromising Your Faith by David Goetsch
  • Snippets from Os Guinness’ book The Call: Finding and Fulfilling God’s Purpose For Your Life.

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