Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

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My Review of JOJO RABBIT

Jojo Rabbit, rated PG-13
** ½

My wife Tammy and I love watching movies. But we’ve done something this year that we’ve never done before – we have watched all of the Oscar nominated films for Best Motion Picture. The last one we watched was Jojo Rabbit, which received six Oscar nominations and won for Best Adapted Screenplay.  The film was directed by Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok), who also won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, and is based on the book Caging Skies: A Novel by Christine Leunens. Jojo Rabbit is a quirky satire set in Germany at the end of World War II.
Jojo Betzler, played by newcomer Roman Griffin Davis, is a 10-year-old boy who has completely bought into the beliefs of the Nazis. As such, he believes that Jews are monsters who have horns on their heads. He’s such a believer, his imaginary friend, who frequently gives him pep talks is none other than Adolph Hitler, played mostly for laughs by Waititi. Jojo lives with his mother Rosie, who references God a few times, played by two-time Oscar nominee Scarlett Johansson (Jojo Rabbit, Marriage Story). Jojo is told that his father is away in Italy fighting in the war.
Jojo heads off to a weekend Hitler Youth Camp, which teaches the boys how to fight and the girls how to care for wounds and have babies. The camp leaders include Captain Klenzendorf, a disabled German soldier with an injured right eye who drinks a lot, played by Oscar winner Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Fraulein Rahm, played by Rebel Wilson (Pitch Perfect), Finkel, played by Emmy nominee Alfie Allen (Game of Thrones) and Deertz, played by Emmy winner Stephen Merchant (The Office). Jojo’s best friend at camp is the lovable and plump, Yorki, played by Archie Yates. Continue reading

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Alive & Breathing, Vol. 1 – Matt Maher

This is the first of four Alive & Breathing releases from Matt Maher. Each EP will feature three songs – a new song, a live version of a song that Maher has written for other artists but hasn’t recorded himself, and a live version of some of Maher’s previous songs. Here are a few comments on each song on Vol. 1.

Run to the Father – This song was written by Maher with Cody Carnes and Ran Jackson and produced by Bernie Herms. The powerful song of surrender features piano, strings, drums, and backing choir vocals.

Key lyric:
I run to the Father, I fall into grace
I’m done with the hiding, no reason to wait
My heart needs a surgeon, my soul needs a friend
So, I’ll run to the Father, again and again

Lord, I Need You (Señor, Te Necesito) – This is a live version of Maher’s worship song “Lord, I Need You”, which Maher recorded with Bianca, who sings in Spanish. Maher wrote the song with Christy Nockels, Daniel Carson, Jesse Reeves and Kristian Stanfill. The song features piano, bass, guitar, drums, and the audience singing along. The voices of Maher and Bianca blend well.

White Flag – This is a live version of a song that Chris Tomlin originally recorded at the Passion Conference. Maher wrote the song with Tomlin, Jason Ingram and Matt Redman. The song features synth, drums, guitar, bass and the audience singing along.

Key lyric:
We raise our white flag
We surrender all to you, all for you
We raise our white flag, the war is over
Love has come, your love has won

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

  • Reviews of Alive & Breathing, Volumes 2-4 by Matt Maher
  • Music News
  • Song of the Week Lyrics

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Why I Love the Apostle Paul by John Piper: 30 Reasons. Crossway. 208 pages. 2019

In his latest book, in thirty short chapters divided into seven parts, John Piper gives us not a comprehensive overview of the Apostle Paul’s thought, but a highly personal book. No one has taken the author deeper into the mysteries of the gospel than Paul, who wrote thirteen books of the Bible, and much of the book of Acts is about his ministry. After the Lord Jesus himself, no one has won the author’s appreciation and admiration more. His aim in the book is to commend the Apostle Paul as a trustworthy witness. He wants us to be deeply and joyfully persuaded that he is admirable and trustworthy and that what he writes is true.
Over the thirty chapters, the author tells us about the profound impact the Apostle Paul has had on his life and ministry. Among the topics included are suffering, love, contentment, killing sin, Christian freedom, community, Gospel accuracy, God’s sovereignty, imperfection, cancer, joy, the poor and Romans 8:32. You can read the book through like a normal book, or choose to read it devotionally, covering a chapter a day for thirty days.

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BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review… and reviews of:

  • Them: Why We Hate Each Other – And How to Heal by Ben Sasse
  • The New Man: Becoming a Man After God’s Heart by Dan Doriani

BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur
I’M CURRENTLY READING…. Continue reading

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Why You Should Listen to Albert Mohler’s The Briefing Each Weekday

For several years now, my favorite podcast has been Albert Mohler’s The Briefing. Mohler describes the program as “a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview”. The fast-moving program, which is available early (usually by 5:00 am central time), runs about 26 minutes each weekday. The Briefing is unlike any other program that I’ve found, covering a wide-variety of news stories that Christians need to know about, along with a respected Christian analysis of those news stories.
You can listen to the program on Mohler’s website, The Briefing podcast or on the Albert Mohler app. I will often listen to the program as I’m getting ready for my day. If you miss a program, you can listen to it in The Briefing Archive.
You may not be familiar with Dr. Mohler. He has been the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary since 1993. Taking over that position at just 33 years old, it fell to him to remake the faculty until the seminary was entirely transformed to support the full inspiration and inerrancy of the Scriptures, and evangelical, Baptist orthodoxy.
Mohler is an author of many books that I have enjoyed, and another podcast “Thinking in Public”, which is a series of conversations with the day’s leading thinkers. He is a member of the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, serves as a council member for The Gospel Coalition, and is a former teaching fellow for Ligonier Ministries. In addition, he is a co-founder of Together for the Gospel.  You can follow him on Twitter at @albertmohler.
The Briefing is my favorite podcast. What are some of your favorites?



The Call of the Wild, rated PG

The Call of the Wild is a well-made, family friendly film (for ages 8 and above), is written by Oscar nominee Michael Green (Logan) and based on Jack London’s classic 1903 novel. The film is directed by three-time Oscar nominee Chris Sanders (How to Train Your Dragon, The Croods, Lilo & Stitch), and is the first live action film he has directed.  The film is narrated by Oscar nominee Harrison Ford (Witness, Indiana Jones and Star Wars films), who also plays John Thornton.  The film is set during the 1890’s Klondike Gold Rush.
Buck is a cross between a St. Bernard and a Scotch Shepherd, the same mixed breed as was in London’s book. He lives in a northern California community, where he is the spoiled pet on the farm of Judge Miller, played by three-time Golden Globe nominee Bradley Whitford (The West Wing). But Buck’s life changes when he is captured and taken to the Yukon during the Klondike gold rush, where sled dogs are needed. Continue reading

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

  • Should Followers of Christ Use Recreational Marijuana? Kevin J. Vanhoozer writes “Good stewardship applies not only to work, but also to the way we relax. Using weed is not the way to redeem the recreational times.”
  • My Life is Endless Drudgery – How Do I Find Joy in Christ? In this episode of the Ask Pastor John podcast, John Piper responds to the question “It just feels like no matter how hard I try or how much I do, I’m barely getting it all done. I hate that I sometimes resent my kids and wife and this life. Now the middle-age years have arrived and I fear burnout, even of running away. Can you help me?”
  • Why Doesn’t God Always Heal? In this episode of the Gospel Coalition podcast, Albert Mohler and Bryan Chapell share their response to a common question they’ve heard throughout their decades in ministry about why God answers certain prayers for healing in this life, but not all.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

    • More interesting article links
    • Cartoon of the Week
    • Favorite Quotes of the Week

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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

  • 6 Questions to Ask About Working After Retirement. Jeff Haanen shares six questions to ask – and choices to make – as you make a plan to work after retirement.
  • Called to Write – Helping Others Walk in God’s Presence. Russell Gehrlein discusses his calling as a writer.
  • 4 Ways to Set Effective Goals in 2020. Eric Geiger writes “Here are four ways to ensure you are setting the best goals. Set goals for your whole life, in community, with a plan, and ultimately with a focus on the greater goal.”
  • How to Fight Envy in the Workplace. Gage Arnold responds to the question “How can I know if I just need to settle down and be content, or if I’m in the wrong job and should be looking for something where I can be brilliant?”
  • Making Wise Career Choices in 2020. Matt Perman suggests three things to help us make wise career choices, even if we don’t know what we are passionate about.
  • IFWE’s Top Ten Blogs of 2019. Kristin Brown shares 2019’s top ten blog posts from the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics (IFWE), which includes “Trusting God in New Job Assignments” from our friend Russell Gehrlein.
  • Podcast: Help! I Hate My Job. In this episode of the Crossway Podcast, Jim Hamilton, author of Work and Our Labor in the Lord, joins Matt Tully and discusses what to do when you hate your job. He offers encouragement for those frustrated in their work, reflects on God’s original intention for work at creation, and explains the difference between a job and a vocation.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

    • More links to interesting articles
    • The Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week
    • My Review of Taking God to Work: The Keys to Ultimate Success by Steve Reynolds and David L. Winters
    • Snippets from Os Guinness’ book “The Call: Finding and Fulfilling God’s Purpose For Your Life”

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God Values the Work of the Stay at Home Mom

Russell Gehrlein writes in his book Immanuel Labor that motherhood is indeed a high calling. He looks at Proverbs 31 to show that the mother works for the benefit of others, including her husband, her children and the needy. She is entrepreneurial, conducting business outside the home. She is hard working, putting in long hours and making good use of her time. In the midst of her work she exudes joy. She is a role model, not just for women, but for all workers.
When we talk about work, we usually talk about paid work for some organization. But what about stay at home moms? I’ve been helped in this area by the writings of Courtney Reissig. In her article “When Motherhood Feels Like Death”, she writes that one of the great challenges of motherhood is the lack of a job description. Moms don’t keep normal business hours because their children don’t. Moms don’t have workplace boundaries because they live at work. The tasks are always there, waiting to be done. The children are always there, needing attention, love and training.
In her excellent book Glory in the Ordinary: Why Your Work in the Home Matters to God Reissig writes that moms are tired. They are weary of the pressure to live up to expectations and ideals that no human being could ever attain. On one hand, they hear that their work at home is the pinnacle of greatness, but on the other hand they hear that they are letting down women everywhere by staying home instead of taking advantage of the strides women have made in the workplace. She states that instead of looking at their work as stay at home moms through God’s eyes, many look at it through their own—and wonder if they measure up. Continue reading

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My Review of JUDY

Judy, rated PG-13
** ½ 

Judy tells the story of singer Judy Garland as portrayed by Renee Zellweger, who recently won the Oscar for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role. The film was directed by Rupert Goold. The screenplay was written by Tom Edge (The Crown), based on the stage play End of the Rainbow by Peter Quilter. Jeremy Woodhead (Stan & Ollie, Doctor Strange), received an Oscar nomination for Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling.
The film does not look at Garland’s entire life, but instead chooses to tell her tragic lifestory story in two places, bookending her short life (she died at age 47). First, we see her in 1939, at the beginning of her career, (the young Judy is played by Darci Shaw), filming the classic The Wizard of Oz, in which she starred as Dorothy. Judy worked up to 18 hours a day, was not allowed to eat much and was given diet pills to maintain her weight, as well as pills to stay awake and to fall asleep. She is controlled, threatened and verbally abused by MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer, played by Richard Cordery (The Wife).
The film then takes us to the last year of her life, eventually leading to Garland, played by two-time Oscar winner Zellweger (Judy, Cold Mountain), performing five weeks of sold out concerts at the “Talk of the Town” nightclub in London in the winter of 1968. Continue reading

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United – Newsboys (Deluxe Edition)

In the spring of 2018, former Newsboys lead singer Peter Furler and former bassist Phil Joel joined the then current Newsboy lineup of Michael Tait, Duncan Phillips, Jeff Frankenstein and Jody Davis for a Newsboys reunion tour. Since then the Newsboys United have played more than 150 concerts. As a result, this new studio album has been highly anticipated. And the album, which is comprised of praise and worship songs, does not disappoint. The album, co-produced by Furler and Duncan Sparks and featuring a number of different writers, has a clean and energetic sound, as it merges the former members and current members together for a satisfying result.

Below are a few comments about each song:

Greatness of Our God – This worship song about the greatness of God, was written by Bryan Fowler, Colby Wedgeworth and Ethan Hulse. This was the first song released from the album. Furler and Tait share lead vocals on an excellent opening song.

Symphony – This song was written by Bryan Fowler, Colby Wedgeworth and Ethan Hulse. The voices of Furler and Tait blend well on this prayer, and Phillips’ drums particularly stand out.

Key lyrics:
So, let my life be, let my life be
A symphony, a symphony
Every breath that I breathe
Lord I wanna bring You glory, glory

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 More of this review and a review of
~ Believe by Russ Taff
 Music News
 Song of the Week Lyrics
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