Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS


Hymns Vol. 2 – Shane and Shane
****

Shane and Shane follow Hymns Vol. 1 and Hymns Live with more classic and modern hymns done in their distinctive worshipful style. The hymns are creatively arranged in a way that they can be used for congregational singing in church worship services, as well as enjoyed for individual worship. The album starts with four classic hymns, then moves to four modern hymns, before ending with two more classic hymns.
Below are a few brief comments about each of the songs:
Be Thou My Vision (Lord You Are) – “Be Thou My Vision” is an 8th century Irish hymn that was translated by Eleanor Hull in 1912. “Lord You Are (More Precious Than Silver)” was written by Lynn DeShazo. The song features acoustic guitar, strings, backing vocals and some good drum work. 

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  • More of this review and reviews of ~
    • The St. Nemele Collab Sessions – TobyMac
    • Okie – Vince Gill
  • Music News
  • Music Quotes
  • Song of the Week Lyrics

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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

Something Needs to Change: A Call to Make Your Life Count in a World of Urgent Need by David Platt. Multnomah. 224 pages. 2019
****

In Something Needs to Change, you get exactly what you would expect out of a David Platt book – to be challenged biblically to get out of your comfort zone and take action. He takes a different approach in the writing of this book, one of the best I’ve read this year. He uses an experience – a trek through multiple trips with a few men on Himalayan trails – rather than basing the book on his sermons. On his trips, he came face to face with men, women, and children in urgent spiritual (those who have never heard of Jesus), and physical (illness, disease, hunger, trafficking), need, and tries to understand what it all means for his life. He knows that it must mean something, as certainly he’s not supposed to see and hear these things and then go on with business as usual in his life. I experienced the same feelings as I read this book about these urgent spiritual and physical needs.
In the book, we follow the author and his friends on their trek as they see faces and touch people. The region that he travels to includes about nine million people. Out of that nine million, there are probably less than one hundred followers of Jesus. He writes that the reality is that most of the people have never even heard of Jesus. The area is the birthplace of both Hinduism and Buddhism.  Throughout the book, the author shares scripture from Luke’s Gospel that he was reading on his trek, along with his journaling. Because the book is intended to be an experience on the Himalayan trails, the author includes a few questions for reflection at the end of each day of the trek to help the reader make the most of their own journey.

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BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review and reviews of…
~ 5 Minutes in Church History: An Introduction to the Stories of God’s Faithfulness in the History of the Church by Stephen J. Nichols
~ A Company of Heroes: Portraits from the Gospel’s Global Advance by Tim Keesee
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur
I’M CURRENTLY READING….

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Dust to Glory: An Overview of the Bible

How well do you understand the “big picture” of the Bible? Not just the New Testament, but the entire Bible. I recently re-listened to Dust to Glory, R.C. Sproul’s 57-part teaching series on the Bible. I had listened to the series years ago when it was first available, and also taught an adult Sunday School class using the videos at my church.
I’ve written previously how much the ministry of Dr. Sproul meant to me. Re-listening to this series confirmed for me why. Here was someone who took difficult theological concepts and communicated them in a way that I could understand. Throughout these messages, Dr. Sproul brings his characteristic passion to the lectures as he goes over the major themes, events and people of the Bible. Dr. Sproul himself felt that Dust to Glory was the most important teaching tool that Ligonier Ministries ever produced. His hope was that Dust to Glory “will encourage, stimulate, and assist you to master the Scriptures so that the Scriptures may master you.”
The teaching series comes in both audio and video formats. You can purchase the entire series from Ligonier Ministries, or just the Old Testament or New Testament messages. At the above link you can also watch the first message free.  I would recommend purchasing the entire 57-part teaching series so that you can get a complete overview of God’s Story.
Don’t let cost keep you from this wonderful teaching series. Twice each year, Christianaudio offers this series for just $7.49 for each of the two parts, or just $14.98 for the 57, 23-minute messages as a part of their “Twice Yearly Sale”.
Not all books of the Bible receive equal treatment in Dust to Glory. For example, the “prison epistles” and the “general epistles” each get one lecture. On the other hand, the book of Revelation gets three lectures.
Dust to Glory would be an excellent addition to your home or church library. It’s a resource that you will want to go back to again and again.


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

  • You Are Not the Author of Your Story. Paul Tripp writes “Better than anything impressive that you could accomplish in this life, your life story is a biography of wisdom and grace written by Another.”
  • The Great Reward in Thankless Service. Betsy Childs Howard writes “Once we know we’re serving the Lord rather than men and women; we can stop worrying about whether we are under-appreciated. We can stop focusing on whether our efforts enhance our image and start concentrating on how we can best meet the needs of our neighbors.”
  • Bearing One Another’s Burdens. John MacArthur writes “Do you want to fulfill the moral requirements of the Law? Love your neighbor. How do you love him? By bearing his burdens.”
  • Why Joni Eareckson Tada Praises God for Not Healing Her. Joni Eareckson Tada writes “For the last 50 years in my wheelchair, I’ve been daily dying to self and rising with Jesus, dying to self and rising with Jesus, dying to self and rising with Jesus. My goal is to mortify my fleshly desires, so I might find myself in Christ. God has been answering my prayer, exposing dark things in my heart, things from which I need to be healed.”

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  • 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

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  • More links to interesting articles
  • The Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week
  • My Review of Essays for the Common Good: Nine Pastors and Churches Share How They Are Putting Ideas into Practice. Edited by Luke Bobo.
  • Snippets from Os Guinness’ book “The Call: Finding and Fulfilling God’s Purpose For Your Life”

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My Review of DOWNTON ABBEY

Downton Abbey, rated PG
***

Downton Abbey, a well-made and acted big-screen version of the popular television series that includes some content concerns, takes place in 1927. The big news is that the King and Queen of England will be visiting Downton Abbey. King George V and Queen Mary will be spending a night at Downton during a royal tour of Yorkshire. While that is the main story, there are numerous subplots in the film.
The film is written by Oscar winner Julian Fellows (Gosford Park), and directed by three-time Emmy nominee Michael Engler (Downton Abbey, 30 Rock, Sex and the City). It features all that was loved in the television series – the beauty of the English countryside, the costumes, the abbey (Highclere Castle in real life), and most of all the characters; the nobility and the servants.
Mr. Thomas Barrow, played by Robert James-Collier, is now the butler, replacing Mr. Carson, played by four-time Emmy nominee Jim Carter (Downton Abbey), who is now retired.

***SPOILER ALERT*** Continue reading


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Praying for Those on the Trail

In our town, we are blessed to have the Constitution Trail, a more than 45-mile hard surfaced trail running through the community, that was developed for walking, hiking, jogging and biking. The trail opened in 1989, using the old Illinois Central Gulf Railroad line that had been abandoned around this same time, which provided an appropriate pathway for a trail.
Each Wednesday morning, weather permitting, my good friend Neil and I enjoy spending time together walking the trail for two hours, covering five or more miles. We enjoy God’s creation (trees, birds, etc.) as we pass many people biking, walking, jogging, walking their dogs, pushing baby strollers, or sometimes running behind a baby stroller. I try to catch the eyes of those we pass by, with a smile, wave or “Good morning”.
One of the places we pass by on the trail is a small piece of land, adjacent to our church property, that our church purchased several years ago. We purchased the land with the intention of putting a few parking spaces on it, but that was never approved by the town, so it sits unused, except for being mowed by our faithful deacons. More than a year ago, my wife Tammy had an idea for the property, to put up what she calls a “Lucy Booth”.
Remember Lucy from the Peanuts series? A way for her to make money was to give advice, thus she set up a psychiatric help booth and charged five cents for advice. Tammy took that idea and developed her own sign in which Lucy advertised opinions for a nickel, thoughts for the day for a dime, and sound advice for a quarter. But next to Lucy’s booth, Snoopy offers prayer for free! (see sign above)
So, occasionally in the summer we go out to the church property along the trail and set up the sign. We bring some folding chairs and bottled water, and sit back.  What a joy it is to see the neighborhood children running with their basketball to go play at the church’s hoop.  We see many people walk or run by the sign, some of them looking at it. Most don’t make eye contact (as an introvert, I can understand that), but some do and we smile and wave to them. We pray for them as they go by. You never know what kind of problems someone is dealing with. It could be illness, loss of job, relationship issues, etc. Our only purpose is to be there for that person who is going through difficulties and just needs someone to talk to, or to pray for them.
I think it’s a wonderful way to be salt and light in our community (Matthew 5: 13-16), and use a piece of property that is not otherwise being used.
Have you done something similar in your community? Please share if you have. Blessings.