Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

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What Does It Mean That God Is Sovereign? (Crucial Questions) by R.C. Sproul. Ligonier Ministries. 77 pages. 2022

This is one of the newest books in R.C. Sproul’s Crucial Questions series, all of which are free in the digital edition. These books/booklets offer clear answers to the most common and difficult questions about the Christian faith. In this volume, Sproul looks at God’s sovereignty over nothing, creation, salvation, human actions and evangelism.
Sproul writes that when we say that God is sovereign, we are saying that His power is supreme in all reality, and no power in heaven or on earth can possibly resist the power of God. He tells us that there are four ways that God is sovereign. He is sovereign over nature. He is sovereign over history and human affairs. And He is sovereign in His inherent right to impose obligations on His creatures, to say to them, “Thou shalt not do this” and “Thou shalt do that.” He writes that God is sovereign, not we ourselves, and His sovereignty extends to all things, not only the creation of the world but the sustaining and governing of the world, and what we describe as the laws of nature only describe the ordinary ways that God in His sovereignty governs nature.
As with all of Sproul’s teaching, he communicates what can be hard to understand subjects in an easy-to-understand manner.

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BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review…
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ Providence by John Piper
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Tim Keller’s How to Find God Series of Books

Tim Keller published three short books – On Birth, On Marriage and On Death – in his How to Find God series. Tim Keller’s aim in his How to Find God series is to help readers facing major life changes to think about what constitutes the truly changed life. The purpose is to give readers the Christian foundations for life’s most important and profound moments, beginning with birth and baptism, moving into marriage, and concluding with death.

The foundation of the three books is a sermon Keller preached at his wife Kathy’s sister’s funeral in 2018. Here are my reviews of each of the books; On Birth is the first book in the series.

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THIS & THAT: A Roundup of Favorite Articles and Quotes

  • How Should Christians View Sunday? Sinclair Ferguson writes “Hebrews teaches us that eternal glory is a Sabbath rest. Every day, all day, will be “Father’s Day!” Thus, if here and now we learn the pleasures of a God-given weekly rhythm, it will no longer seem strange to us that the eternal glory can be described as a prolonged Sabbath!”
  • God-Centered Prayer. Derek Thomas tells us that our prayers reveal much about us.
  • 6 Ways Christians Can Respond to Our Strange New World. Carl Trueman writes “Sooner or later every single one of us is likely to be faced with a challenging situation generated by the modern notion of selfhood. And this means that for all of us the questions of how we should live and what we should do when facing pressure to conform are gaining in urgency. Here are six ways Christians should respond to this new world.”
  • 5 Ways to Maintain Unity amid Disagreement. Dan Doriani writes “We may want fellow believers to agree on social issues, but a church that opens its doors to its community—a church where unbelievers gladly attend—can expect both members and attenders to sometimes disagree. Is there a better way to maintain a unified community amid disagreement?”

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How Can We Be Salt and Light in the Workplace?

In his “Sermon on the Mount” in Matthew chapter 6, Jesus calls his disciples to be the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world”:  
You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Hugh Whelchel, in his article “Jesus Showed Us That Being Salt and Light is True Power” shares this quote from John Stott about being the salt of the earth and light of the world:
“The world, he says, is like rotting meat. But you are to be the world’s salt. The world is like a dark night, but you are to be the world’s light. This is the fundamental difference between the Christian and the non-Christian, the church and the world.”
What does it mean to be salt and light in the workplace? In his book Living Salty and Light-Filled Lives in the Workplace , Luke Bobo tells us that work is the most logical and likely place where Christians should be making the greatest impact. Salty and light-filled workers influence their peers; they push back the effects of sin and expose darkness.  When we live salty and light-filled lives in the workplace, others will witness or see our good works and give God our Father praise. Continue reading

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What’s It Gonna Take? by Van Morrison
*** ½

This is Van Morrison’s 43rd studio album, following 2021’s Latest Record Project Vol. 1. See my review of that album here. With the fourteen new songs here, Morrison has now released an amazing forty-two songs over the past year.
The album cover features a couple running away from the city on puppet strings with “Wake Up” in the background. Many of the songs on the album are about Morrison’s reaction to the COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions. I write this review from the perspective of living in a state that had some of the strongest COVID restrictions in the U.S. I’m also writing from the perspective of someone who nearly lost his brother to the virus.
My wife and I saw Morrison in concert two weeks before this album’s release. His voice is still an incredible instrument at age 76, as he leads his incredible band, showcased on this album. Morrison did not perform any of the songs on this new album in the concert.
Although some may disagree with some of the lyrics on the album, few will disagree that Morrison and his band deliver excellent performances here. Themes on the album are the impact of the COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions (depression, misery and strife), the need to fight back, freedom, government lies, the media/fake news, free speech and celebrity.
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  • Song of the Week Lyrics ~ The Goodness by TobyMac, featuring Blessing Offor

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Phil: The Rip-Roaring (and Unauthorized!) Biography of Golf’s Most Colorful Superstar by Alan Shipnuck. Avid Reader Press/Simon & Schuster. 256 pages. 2022

Alan Shipnuck conducted nearly two hundred interviews for this book (players, caddies, swing coaches, etc.). He only spoke to Phil Mickelson once for the book, and that one call has caused all sorts of problems for Mickelson (his comments about Saudi Arabia and the PGA Tour), which continue to this day.
The author writes that Mickelson, a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, winner of six major championships and 45 PGA Tour wins, tied for eighth all-time, is an enigma. His fans adore “Lefty”, who responds to their cheers with a grin and a “thumbs up”. But his longtime caddy, Jim “Bones” Mackay (who Mickelson owed $900,000), stated “Nobody knows Phil Mickelson. Nobody. I spent twenty-five years standing next to the guy and he’s still a total mystery to me.”
In this book, the author shares both positives (how he has helped other players, his philanthropic work, his generosity with those in the service industry, and his random acts of kindness), and negatives (his ties with men of ill repute, his huge gambling debts – he had gambling losses totaling more than $40 million in the four-year period 2010–14) – and becoming involved in a messy insider-trading case) about Mickelson.3 The author tells us that the book is an attempt to reconcile the multitudes within Mickelson, and help us understand who the real Phil Mickelson is.

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BOOK REVIEW ~ More of this review…
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ Providence by John Piper
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Why Do So Few Believe in Jesus Today?

Recently, as we were waiting in our car to go into a business, we watched as an employee bowed down repeatedly before a statue of Buddha that was surrounded by candy and candles. About a week before that, my wife Tammy had a conversation with a family friend who admitted that she had absolutely no interest in God, and never has. These two situations made me think about why so few believe in Jesus today. Here are some random and somewhat rambling thoughts about that.
We live in an increasingly secular culture today. As I was growing up, few businesses were open on Sunday. Now, it is the rare (Chick fil-A, Hobby Lobby) business that is closed on Sunday; everything else is open. Why is this so?
Research studies confirm the increasingly secular nature of our culture. For example, the Pew Research Center tells us that about three in ten U.S. adults (29%) are religious “nones”, those who describe themselves as not having any religious identity. Membership in houses of worship continued to decline in 2021, dropping below 50% for the first time in Gallup’s eight-decade trend. In 2020, 47% of Americans said they belonged to a church, synagogue, or mosque, down from 50% in 2018 and 70% in 1999. Continue reading

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A Summer of Nostalgia

Adam Wainwright, Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina of the St. Louis Cardinals

St. Louis Cardinals baseball fans know that we are down to the final few months of watching three legends playing together. Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina, sure Hall of Famers, have announced that this will be their final season. Soon to be 41-year-old pitcher Adam Wainwright has not said that this will be his final season. And why should it be? He’s still competing at a high level. But it certainly could be. Continue reading

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4 Upcoming Albums of Interest

Here are four upcoming albums that you might be interested in:

Life After Death – TobyMac

To be released August 19, this will be TobyMac’s first album since 2018’s The Elements, and the death of his son Truett in October, 2019. Six of the fifteen songs on the album have been released in advance of the album – “21 Years”, “I’m Sorry (a lament)”, “Help is on the Way”, “The Promised Land” (with Sheryl Crow), “The Goodness” (with Blessing Offor), and “Everything About You” (with Marlee). There are several collaborations on the album including “Space” with former DC Talk members Michael Tait and Kevin Max.

Always – Chris Tomlin

To be released September 9, Chris Tomlin returns with thirteen new songs, four of which have been released in advance of the album – “I See You” (featuring Brandon Lake), “Yahweh (No One)” with Elevation Worship, “Always” and “Holy Forever”.

Christ Our Hope in Life and Death – Keith & Kristyn Getty

To be released in September, the album will

include three songs released in advance – “Christ Our Hope in Life and Death” (with Michael W. Smith), “On Jordan’s Stormy Banks” and a song to be released in August.

There is One Gospel – CityAlight

This will be CityAlight’s first collections of songs since their 2018 EP Yet Not I. I haven’t seen a tracklist for the album yet, but it may include some of the singles they have released in the past few years such as “It Was Finished Upon That Cross” and “This is the Day”.

What new music are you looking forward to?