Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

Let There Be Wonder (Acoustic) EP – Matt Redman
****

Matt Redman released Let There Be Wonder, one of my favorite albums of 2020, in January, before the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world. He recently released this six-song EP Let There Be Wonder (Acoustic), featuring five songs from that album, plus his classic “Blessed Be Your Name”. What holds all of these stripped-down songs together is that they are all about Jesus, and praising his wonderful name.
Even if you are familiar with these songs, I think you’ll enjoy these new versions. What really stood out for me was the use of strings on these songs. The EP was produced by Steve Marcia, who had the idea to use a string quartet as a signature sound for this project. Recorded during the lockdown, we hear four different string players who recorded themselves in four different locations, with beautiful results. I also enjoyed the backing vocals.
Below are a few comments about each song:

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  • Song of the Week Lyrics

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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

Journey to the Cross: A 40-Day Lenten Devotional by Paul Tripp. Crossway. 184 pages. 2021 
****

 

I’ve enjoyed several of Paul Tripp’s devotionals over the past few years, my favorite being his New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional. His latest devotional gives us 40 readings, some in poetry form, leading up to Easter. Each reading begins a short statement, which may have originally been one of the author’s tweets. He suggests using this devotional as your stimulus and guide as you stop, consider, mourn, confess, pray, and give your heart to thanksgiving.
Through these readings, and the “Reflection Questions” included at the end of each selection, we follow Jesus on his journey to the cross. The author writes that the horrible, public sacrifice of Jesus should ignite not only our celebration, but also our mourning.

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


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My Review of NEWS OF THE WORLD

News of the World, rated PG-13
** ½

News of the World is a slow moving, though beautifully filmed western, which features solid acting performances by Tom Hanks and Helena Zengel. Though the film received four Oscar nominations (sound, production design, original score and cinematography), I found it to be too slow and predictable to recommend.
The film was directed by Oscar nominee Paul Greengrass (United 93), who worked with lead actor Hanks in Captain Phillips. The screenplay is by Oscar nominee Luke Davies (Lion), and is based on the 2016 novel by Paulette Jiles.
The film is set in 1870, a few years after the Civil War. Captain Jefferson Kyle Tidd, played by two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump, Philadelphia), is a veteran of three wars, including the Civil War. He is a decent, but lonely man. He speaks of a wife in San Antonio. He rides in a wagon from town to town in Texas dramatically reading from newspapers the latest news of the day to gatherings of people who are willing to pay a dime to hear it.
As he is in transit between towns, he comes across a wagon on its side. He sees a man who has been hung, and he notices a blonde-haired girl running away. Continue reading


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THIS & THAT: A Weekly Roundup of Favorite Articles and Quotes

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  • Favorite Quotes of the Week

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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

  • Jesus and “The Catastrophe of Success”. Scott Sauls writes “We are successful only when we have character that is greater than our gifts and abilities, and humility that is greater than our platforms and influence.”
  • You’re in Control of Your Job. God is, too. John Terrill writes “As Christian leaders, we need Solomon-like discernment, especially in moments of challenge and testing. Such insight depends on Spirit-infused vision to toggle between our agency and God’s agency.”
  • How Nehemiah Modeled “Seeking God First”. Russ Gehrlein was a guest on the radio program, Community Bridge, a Family Radio Network program and podcast on January 4, 2021. Below is a partial transcript of that conversation, which you can listen to in its entirety here.
  • Making Ethical Choices in a Gray World. Steve Graves writes “What is needed, then, is a filter to help make ethical choices regarding issues that are not directly addressed by a specific Scripture.  We can’t simply look to the law either because sometimes the law says what is allowed but not what you should always do.”

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  • The Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week
  • My Review of Work Matters: Connecting Sunday Worship to Monday Work by Tom Nelson
  • Snippets from the book Work and Worship: Reconnecting Our Labor and Liturgy by Matthew Kaemingk and Cory B. Willson

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Opposition to Border Walls is Nothing New: Leadership Lessons from Nehemiah

The issue of border walls is certainly an ongoing political topic in our country these days. Some are in favor of a border wall along our southern border, while others see such a wall as immoral. Some politicians are wanting to build many more miles of a wall, while others to tear down the walls that have already been constructed. No matter which side of this debate you are on, you might be interested to know that opposition to building or rebuilding a wall is nothing new. In the first six chapters of the Old Testament book of Nehemiah, we read about the reconstruction of a wall that has been damaged.
We are introduced to Nehemiah in 444 B.C. when he was serving in the Persian royal court as the personal cupbearer to King Artaxerxes. I’ve always enjoyed the story of Nehemiah. One of the first books I read as a new believer in the early 1980’s was Charles Swindoll’s Hand Me Another Brick, which was about Nehemiah’s leadership.
After 70 years in exile, some of the Jews had returned home and rebuilt the temple in Jerusalem, as we read about in the book of Ezra. They were able to worship God in their own land, but the city still lay in ruins. In Nehemiah 1:3, Nehemiah is told that the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates destroyed by fire more than a half-century after the completion of the rebuilding of the temple. Upon hearing this news, Nehemiah mourns and prays to God.  He then asks permission of King Artaxerxes to go to Judah to rebuild the walls, which the king grants.  When Nehemiah arrives, he inspects the walls around Jerusalem, devises a plan to rebuild, and rallies the people of Judah to do the work. He tells the jeering Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite and Geshem the Arab that the God of heaven will make them prosper in the work (Nehemiah 2:20). Continue reading


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A Prayer for Easter

Our Father in Heaven,

As Christians around the world celebrate Resurrection Sunday, we thank you for the sacrifice that your Son made on our behalf, a sacrifice we don’t consider, meditate on, or give thanks for often enough. In fact, it’s usually only during this time of the year that many of us even think about the resurrection.
In perfect unity with the other members of the Trinity, Jesus willingly came to earth as a human, as one of us, enduring suffering and temptation just as we do, but without sin. From the beginning, Jesus knew that His earthly mission would end up on a cruel Roman cross. He prayed in the garden that his cup would pass, but He was in complete submission to Your will.
In the “Great Exchange” on the cross, Jesus took on himself the sins of all Christians – past, present and future. In exchange, He gave us His righteousness.
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.      2 Corinthians 5:21
This is Amazing Grace! Hallelujah! What a Savior! Continue reading


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My Review of American Gospel: Christ Crucified

American Gospel: Christ Crucified (unrated)
****

American Gospel: Christ Crucified follows writer and director Brandon Kimber’s 2018 American Gospel: Christ Alone film. Here is my review of that film. Whereas the first film compared and contrasted biblical Christianity with what is referred to as the “prosperity gospel”, the second film looks at biblical Christianity and progressive Christianity.
Like the first film, the second film features interviews (most recorded specifically for the film), as well as video clips of proponents of both biblical Christianity and progressive Christianity. The film effectively uses graphics of scripture passages in particular, to illustrate the issues being discussed. The film touches on a number of topics, with a key one being the penal substitutionary atonement of Jesus. Those who support this doctrine point to scripture texts to show that this is a biblical doctrine. Those that oppose the substitutionary atonement of Jesus refer to the doctrine as a form of “cosmic child abuse”. Continue reading