Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


Leave a comment

My Review of The Beatles: Get Back

The Beatles: Get Back
****

In January, 1969, the Beatles went into the studio to record a new album, the follow-up to their classic The Beatles (White Album) and single “Hey Jude”. Cameras and microphones were allowed to follow their progress, which originally was to result in a television special followed by a live concert (location to be determined), their first live performance since stopping touring in August, 1966.
In 1970, the film Let It Be was released, directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg. I remember the film, which I saw with my Dad, as depressing, as it appeared to show the Beatles as they were breaking up, as it was indeed released right after the band broke up.
We now know that there was more than 60 hours of video and 150 hours of audio that had never been seen or heard. Three-time Oscar winning director Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit), reviewed the unused material, beautifully digitally restored the video and synced up the audio to produce a three-part docuseries that debuted on November 25, exclusively available on Disney+, that runs nearly 8 hours.
I have been a Beatles fan since watching them on the Ed Sullivan Show in the early 1960’s at my grandparent’s home. I remember listening to a bootleg recording of these sessions at a friend’s home, as the Let It Be album was delayed (that’s another story), not being released until 1970, which was after the band’s last recorded album Abbey Road was released. Continue reading


2 Comments

A Prayer of Thanksgiving


Father in Heaven,

As we celebrate another Thanksgiving Day, perhaps others, like me, are thankful, but weary. Life circumstances have gotten them down, taken a mighty toll on their lives. Father, for me, the past fourteen months have been hard, likely the toughest prolonged stretch of my life, including the loss of my father, my mother-in-law and also very nearly my brother in a brutal battle with COVID. I feel like I have aged ten years, and even the smallest tasks, commitments or obligations can feel overwhelming. But amazingly, through this time, I have grown even closer to You.

I’m thankful for songs such as “My Heart is Filled with Thankfulness” by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty:

My heart is filled with thankfulness
To Him who bore my pain;
Who plumbed the depths of my disgrace
And gave me life again.

Father, as I pray for what I am most thankful for, the gift of salvation given to me by Your Son, the one who bore my pain is at the top of the list. Nothing else compares to this greatest of all gifts. During difficult times, I have felt the comforting presence of the Holy Spirit during times of fear, worry, and uncontrollable tears:

My heart is filled with thankfulness
To Him who walks beside;
Who floods my weaknesses with strength
And causes fears to fly.

Father, I am thankful for the people you have placed into my life – a godly wife, loving parents, a dear brother and sister, in-laws that raised my wife in the faith, and a wonderful extended family.

Father, you have also provided my wife and I many other things for which we are thankful – a good home, a church that has been our home for more than twenty-five years, a career that was enjoyable and fulfilling, good friends – so many of whom are hurting this day – five dogs during our married life together, the joy of a good ballgame, the beauty of Your creation in fall colors and the power of an ocean, music, and so much more.

I thank you for all of these blessings and more, this day and every day:

For every day I have on earth
Is given by the King.
So I will give my life, my all,
To love and follow Him.

In Jesus’ precious name I pray,
Amen


Leave a comment

Are ALL Types of Work Pleasing to God? 


I have read dozens of books about work from a Christian perspective, and Dan Doriani’s  book Work: Its Purpose, Dignity, and Transformation is the best of them. It is theologically sound, and at times, I found it challenging. The book studies work, but he tells us that it especially aims to promote “good work”.  
What is “good work”? Is all work good, and worthy for the believer to participate in? As we will see, the answer to that is no. For example, in the book, Doriani states that mindless work crushes the soul. He tells us that too much Christian instruction on work urges disciples to be faithful in the work assigned to them, but not enough people consider, “Should we be doing this work?” 
Along this same line, on his program The Briefing, Albert Mohler talked about professions (law, engineering, medicine), that believers and their children may not be able to be a part of in the future. Specifically, he asked how long Christians can genuinely hold to Christian convictions and stay in the medical field. You can listen to that discussion here  Continue reading


Leave a comment

MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS


Latest Record Project Volume I by Van Morrison

***

Van Morrison has been very outspoken about the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions in the UK. He released a few songs specifically about that which do not appear on this ambitious 28-song, two-hour plus collection that was recorded during the lockdown.
Latest Record Project Volume I, Morrison’s 42nd studio album has been blasted by critics – The Guardian gave it a one-star (out of five) review, for example – but the more I listened to this album, the more I enjoyed it. The 75-year-old Morrison is in fine form, as is his excellent band, as they play songs that fall into the genres of blues, R&B, jazz and soul. Morrison produced the album and wrote or co-wrote all of the songs unless noted below.
Morrison plays piano, guitar and sax, and is joined by Richard Dunn on Hammond organ, Dave Keary on guitars and banjo, Stuart McIlroy on piano, Pete Hurley on bass, Colin Griffin on drums and percussion, and a vocal trio of Dana Masters, Crawford Bell and Kelly Smiley; with some tracks featuring Jim Mullen on guitar, Gavin Scott on bass, Paul Moran on the organ and Mez Clough and Teena Lyle on vocals.
Below are a few brief comments about each song, along with a list of my favorites from the album:

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

  • More of this review
  • Music News
  • Song of the Week Lyrics

Continue reading


Leave a comment

BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

The Grace & Truth Study Bible (NIV) edited by Albert Mohler. Zondervan. 2144 pages. 2021
****

I enjoy using Study Bibles, including the Reformation Study Bible, MacArthur Study Bible, ESV Study Bible and the Spurgeon Study Bible. The new Grace & Truth Study Bible, which uses the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible, with Albert Mohler serving as General Editor, is intended to help Christians read God’s Word, understand it, and develop a constant hunger to know more and more biblical truth. Mohler tells us that every note, every explanation, is intended to help the reader understand the Word of God. The study Bible will benefit new believers who are looking to understand the Christian faith for the first time, and it will help maturing Christians who are eager to dig deeper into biblical truth. Mohler writes that the entire project, and each of the writers and editors involved, is committed to the complete truthfulness and trustworthiness of the Bible. This project is graciously evangelical, Reformed, and complementarian.
In addition to Mohler as General Editor, James M. Hamilton, Jr. serves as Associate Editor: Old Testament, and Benjamin L. Merkle is Associate Editor: New Testament. The Managing Editor is Mitchell L. Chase. The impressive list of contributors includes Derek Thomas (Ezra–Nehemiah), Ray Ortlund (Ecclesiastes) and Mohler (Hebrews).
The Grace & Truth Study Bible is available in a variety of different options, such as leather, hardcover, personal size, large print and Kindle, which is the edition I am reading. The Bible includes a concordance and full color maps.
Although my preferred version of the Bible is the English Standard Version (ESV), I look forward to using this new study Bible.
Here is a short video in which Mohler introduces the Grace & Truth Study Bible.


Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ Providence by John Piper
I’M CURRENTLY READING…. Continue reading


Leave a comment

THIS & THAT: A Roundup of Favorite Articles and Quotes

  • You Need Christ to Put Your Sin to Death. Dane Ortlund writes “None of us is ever in neutral. Right now, every one of us who is in Christ is either killing sin or being killed by sin. Either getting stronger or getting weaker.”
  • Do This Breathing Exercise for Healthy Christian Living. In this short video, Dane Ortlund states “Just take this idea of inhaling. When you are reading Scripture, you’re taking in oxygen into your spiritual lungs, so to speak. It’s filling you up and it’s helping you to be healthy. You take it in, but at the top of your breath (once you’ve inhaled) you then exhale. And, that’s really what prayer is.”
  • 10 Things You Should Know about Marriage. Paul Tripp shares these ten items from his book Marriage: 6 Gospel Commitments Every Couple Needs to Make.
  • Trusting in God Through Suffering. Derek Thomas writes ““Though he slay me, I will hope in him” (Job 13:15). Job’s famous words summarize the posture we should have toward God when we suffer. Further instruction on how to maintain this posture comes from a surprising source: Elihu.”
  • Praying the Lord’s Prayer Specifically for a Person or Situation. Kevin Halloran writes “One of my favorite prayer practices is to simply pray the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9–13) for something specific. It could be a spiritual battle I’m going through or a person.”

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

  • More interesting article links
  • Favorite Quotes of the Week

Continue reading


Leave a comment

FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

  • Should I Look for a Better Job? Greg Phelan responds to the question “How do you know when to take another job? I’ve been at my current workplace for two years. Everything is fine here, but I think I could push myself harder and learn more at another employer. Is it time to move on?
  • Should I Stay or Should I Go? Chip Roper writes “There’s always angst about career choice floating in the ether. Over half of us workers would change jobs if we could and 50% of Millennials think they chose the wrong career. So how do you know if it is time to go? Short answer: 1) Understand your moment and 2) Respond accordingly.”
  • Submitting to God’s Will – Even When Your Career Falls Apart. Stevan Becker writes “When difficulty, misunderstanding, resistance, and animosities come my way, it helps me to be reminded not to seek my own justice.”
  • Seeing Others with Divine Wonder. John Pletcher writes “How do you see people with whom you work—your clients, coworkers, and employees, especially those who are suffering or just different in light of their disabilities and special needs?”

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

  • More links to interesting articles
  • The Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week
  • My Review of Lead like Christ: Reflecting the Qualities and Character of Christ in Your Ministry by A.W. Tozer
  • Snippets from the book Work and Worship: Reconnecting Our Labor and Liturgy by Matthew Kaemingk and Cory B. Willson

Continue reading


Leave a comment

The Importance of a Focus on Customers

My wife Tammy and I eat out most of the time, as has been our practice throughout our marriage. As a result, we have a lot of opportunities to observe different levels of customer service.
I remember a time several years ago when we were having dinner at a major pizza chain that offered a buffet. The buffet was supposed to begin at 5:00 pm. But it was well after 5:00 pm and the restaurant staff was in no big hurry to get the buffet set up. We finally had to ask them about it, thinking we had gotten the night wrong. I realized later that the mostly high school age staff only saw this as a part-time job. They were going to just put in their time until 9:00 pm and then go home. There was no motivation to provide excellent service, or even acceptable service. They were going to be paid the same.
Have you run into situations like that? Often times the lack of attention in the area of customer service carries over into other areas of a restaurant, such as how well the facility is maintained, including the restrooms, or the appearance of the staff.  In such situations, asking the server for a drink refill almost makes you feel like you are bothering them, as they give you a dismissive “No problem”, or “No worries”. As you think back on such situations, you realize that your experience as a customer was probably less than desirable as there was little, or no, focus on you as the customer. Continue reading


2 Comments

MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

Into the Mystery – NEEDTOBREATHE
****

Into the Mystery is NEEDTOBREATHE’s eighth full-length studio album. It debuted at #1 on the iTunes “Top Albums” charts upon release, and is one of my top albums of 2021 thus far.
During the pandemic, the band recorded the album over a three-week period at a historic house turned recording studio in Columbia, Tennessee with co-producer and engineer Konrad Snyder, and special guests. Into the Mystery follows closely 2020’s Out of Body and 2021’s Live from the Woods Vol. 2.
Themes from Bear Rinehart’s lyrics include reflecting back, longing to be loved, being easier on yourself, God’s love for us and taking chances.
Below are brief comments about each song:

What I’m Here For – This autobiographical song has Bear looking back to his teens and twenties. A theme is being easier on yourself. The song features acoustic guitar, backing vocals, drums, bass, keys and strings.
Key lyric:
I don’t need silver linings
I don’t need so much more
I just need room to be wrong sometimes
That’s all I’m hoping for

Into the Mystery – This song features acoustic guitar, backing vocals, electric guitar, bass, drums and organ. The song is about longing to hear that one is loved, be it a human love or supernatural love.
Key lyric:
‘Cause I just wanna be loved by you
I cannot resist the need to hear you say it
Whatever you do, I will be there
Son, I will follow you anywhere

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

  • More of this review
  • Music News
  • Song of the Week Lyrics

Continue reading


Leave a comment

BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

What Is Biblical Wisdom? (Crucial Questions) by R.C. Sproul. Reformation Trust Publishing. 54 pages. 2020
****

This is one of the newest books in R.C. Sproul’s Crucial Questions series, all of which are free in the digital edition. Here is the complete list of books in the Crucial Questions series. These books/booklets offer clear answers to the most common and difficult questions about the Christian faith.
Dr. Sproul tells us that when we speak of the Wisdom Literature of the Old Testament, we’re referring to the group of books that includes Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, and Job. He writes that Wisdom Literature teaches that we can possess knowledge yet never have wisdom. However, the reverse is not the case—we cannot have wisdom without knowledge.
Sproul tells us that there can be no real human wisdom until we first know the character of God. How can we know how to live in a way that pleases God if we don’t know the God we’re trying to please? Wisdom Literature is given to instruct us in living lives that are pleasing to God.

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