Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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MY 2019 FAVORITES


As I’ve done for a number of years now, I want to share with you my favorites from 2019 in a variety of categories. Except for books, these are all items that were released, or took place in 2019. For books, I include my favorite books of the 60 that I read during 2019, regardless of when the book was published.

Enjoy!  Please let me know what you think of my list, and also share some of your favorites.

Movies ~ Top Choice: Avengers: Endgame

Other films that I’ve enjoyed, in order are:

2.  Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
3.  Little Women
4.  Knives Out
5.  The Upside
6.  Yesterday
7.  Toy Story 4
8.  The Biggest Little Farm
9.  Ford v. Ferrari
10. Spider-Man: Far from Home

Other movies that I enjoyed this year, in no particular order, were:

  • American Gospel: Christ Alone
  • Amazing Grace
  • Apollo 11
  • Free Solo
  • They Shall Not Grow Old
  • Tolkien
  • Stan and Ollie
  • Dark Waters
  • A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
  • Harriet
  • Richard Jewell
  • The Peanut Butter Falcon

Click on ‘Continue Reading’ to see my 2019 favorite albums, songs, books, blogs, podcasts, conferences, television shows, concerts and new resources. Continue reading


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My Review of STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, rated PG-13
*** ½

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is the ninth and concluding film in the   Skywalker saga, bringing together the original films, the prequels, and the sequels. In order to achieve that, the film has to address various plot holes and threads from previous films and resolve questions. The result is an entertaining conclusion, and one of my favorite films of the year. The film is directed by two-time Emmy winner J.J. Abrams (Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, Westworld, Lost), who took over from Colin Trevorrow, who left after “creative differences”. The film was written by Abrams, Oscar winner Chris Terrio (Argo), Derek Connolly (Jurassic World films), and Trevorrow (Jurassic World films). The film had an estimated budget of $200 million. Continue reading


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A Prayer for Christmas Day


Father in Heaven,
Soon we will celebrate Christmas Day! As we celebrate this joyous day, we look forward to gathering with family and friends to worship at church services, exchange gifts, enjoy meals and our family traditions. But most importantly, we remember the incarnation, the day when everything changed. On that day, Jesus, your only Son, left Heaven and came to earth to live as a man. This was a plan that was made in perfect unity with the Trinity before the foundation of the world. That baby in the manger, the baby that would one day go to the cross for us, was your beloved only Son – truly and fully both God and man. He came to earth to save us from our sins and reconcile us to You, and we are so thankful. Continue reading


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Zechariah and Mary ~ Similar Responses but Two Different Outcomes to News of Miraculous Births


Each year, as we prepare to celebrate Christmas, we read the familiar passages in the Bible about the birth of Jesus, especially Luke 1.  In Dan Darling’s fine new book, The Characters of Christmas, he looks at the characters who make up the story of Jesus’ birth. Two of those characters are Zechariah, the husband of Elizabeth and future father of John the Baptist, and Mary, who would become the mother of Jesus.

SIMILARITIES:

  • Both are visited by the angel Gabriel (Luke 1:19; 1:26-27)
  • Both are promised the miraculous birth of a son (Luke 1:13; 1:31)
  • Both are equally unfit to have a child: Zechariah’s wife is barren, and Mary is a virgin (Luke 1:7; Luke 1:27)
  • Both respond with equal perplexity—”How?” (Luke 1:18; 1:34)

The angel Gabriel appeared to both of them, delivering them each a shocking message. Both Zechariah and Mary question Gabriel, but their questioning is responded to quite differently. In a casual reading of the text, you could – and I have – wondered about their reactions and Gabriel’s differing response to them. Continue reading


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My Review of JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL

Jumanji: The Next Level, rated PG-13
** ½

Jumanji: The Next Level picks up two years after Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, which grossed more than $400 million in the U.S. It is an entertaining film, but is marred by a lot of unnecessary adult language, including several abuses of God’s and Jesus’ names.
The film is directed by Golden Globe nominee Jake Kasdan (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story), and written by Kasdan, Jeff Pinkner (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle), and Scott Rosenberg (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle). The film had a budget of approximately $125 million, and grossed in excess of $60 million in the U.S. its opening weekend.
The stars of the first film are now college age. They’ve all pretty much gone their separate ways the past two years. Spencer, played by Alex Wolff, now a freshman at New York University, returns home for Christmas break. It has been difficult maintaining a long-distance relationship with Martha, played by Morgan Turner, and they have drifted apart as of late. Spencer’s grandfather Eddie, played by Oscar nominee Danny DeVito (Erin Brockovich), is recovering from hip surgery, so he is staying at Spencer’s parents’ home, and they have to share a room for a few weeks.
Milo, played by four-time Emmy nominee Danny Glover (Freedom Song, Fallen Angels, Lonesome Dove, Mandela), is Eddie’s former best friend, and they had owned a restaurant together before they had a falling out. Milo comes to the house to reconcile with Eddie after a number of years, but Eddie is not interested in patching things up.
Spencer misses the confidence he felt when he was Dr. Smolder Bravestone, played by Dwayne Johnson in the first film. Despite the danger that he and the others experienced in the video game, Spencer decides to go back into the video game. Continue reading


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My Review of RICHARD JEWELL

Richard Jewell, rated R
***

This film is based on the true story of the Centennial Park bombing in Atlanta during the 1996 Olympics. The film is directed by 89-year-old four-time Oscar winner Clint Eastwood (Million Dollar Baby, Unforgiven). The screenplay was written by Oscar nominee Billy Ray (Captain Phillips), and is based on a magazine article by Marie Brenner (The Insider, A Private War) and the book The Suspect: An Olympic Bombing, the FBI, the Media, and Richard Jewell, the Man Caught in the Middle by Kent Alexander and Kevin Salwen.
The film is about Richard Jewell, played by Paul Walter Hauser (I, Tonya, BlacKkKlansman, Late Night), the security guard working the Olympics that at first was hailed as a hero for finding the bomb in Centennial Park, and preventing an even worse tragedy. The film focuses on the events after the bombing. But just a few days after the bombing, the FBI and the Atlanta Journal Constitution turn on Jewell and makes him the prime suspect in the bombing, indicating that he fits the profile of a bomber. Continue reading


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4 Christmas Books I Recommend to You 

Over the years, many of the authors I enjoy have written books about Christmas. Here are four recent books about Christmas that I would recommend to you.

Child in the Manger: The True Meaning of Christmas – Sinclair Ferguson

Sinclair Ferguson is one of our day’s best Reformed theologians. I have read many of his books and heard him speak many times at the Ligonier National Conference. He has been a pastor and seminary professor in numerous churches and seminaries throughout the world, and is also a Ligonier Teaching Fellow. I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed and was blessed by this book.
Dr. Ferguson writes that this book sets out to explore the question of the real meaning of Christmas. He tells us that when we find the answer, we realize that it isn’t only for the Christmas season. He states that at the center of history stands the person of Jesus Christ. He does so because he is at the center of God’s story. Christ who is the creator of all things has entered his own creation in order to become our Savior. That is what gives Christmas meaning. It is what gives history and our lives meaning too.
He writes that the heart of the Christmas message is a baby bound in swaddling bands and lying in a wooden manger, who is destined to be bound again later in life and laid upon wood on the cross of Calvary. He tells us that the meaning of Christmas is this: The Light of the world has come into the darkness of the world, in order to bring light into the darkness of our hearts, and to illuminate them with the grace of forgiveness. He tells us that Christmas is not coming, but it has already come. The Word already has been made flesh. He already has lived, bled, died, and risen again for us. Now all that remains is to receive him. For Jesus is the meaning of Christmas.

Click on ‘Continue Reading’ for

  • More of this book review and reviews of
  • An Even Better Christmas: Joy and Peace That Last All Year by Matt Chandler
  • Hidden Christmas: The Surprising Truth Behind the Birth of Christ – Timothy Keller
  • Christmas Playlist: Four Songs that bring you to the heart of Christmas – Alistair Begg

Continue reading