Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS


Paul Simon: The Life by Robert Hillburn. Simon and Schuster. 449 pages. 2018
****

I’m a long-time fan of Paul Simon and was excited to see this major new biography of him by respected rock music writer Robert Hillburn. Unlike the recent new biography of Tiger Woods, Simon fully participated with the author via more than a hundred hours of interviews and did not insist on editorial control. The well-researched book saw the author interview Simon’s friends, family and colleagues.  The result is a fascinating look at one of America’s greatest songwriters
Simon was born in 1941 to Lou, a musician and Belle, a teacher.  He played baseball through high school and is a die-hard New York Yankees fan. The family was Jewish, but not very religious, nor is Simon, though references to the Bible have appeared in some of his more recent music, and he has written about science and faith.
Early musical influences for Simon were doo-wop music, Elvis Presley, the Everly Brother and folk music. Simon met Art Garfunkel in the 6th grade. They had some early success as Tom and Jerry, even appearing on American Bandstand.  Paul would write some of the songs they played and his father tended to be judgmental of them.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review…and reviews of Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music? Larry Norman and the Perils of Christian Rock by Gregory Thornbury; Who is Jesus? by R.C. Sproul; Anchored in Hope: Security in the Storm by Donna Marie England
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ How the Nations Rage: Rethinking Faith and Politics in a Divided Age by Jonathan Leeman
I’M CURRENTLY READING…. Continue reading

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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

Coach Wooden and Me: Our 50-Year Friendship On and Off the Court by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Grand Central Publishing. 321 pages. 2017
****

This heartfelt book is about a friendship between two people who were in some ways very different from each other. The author, one of the greatest basketball players in the history of the game, writes of his nearly fifty-year friendship with John Wooden, arguably the greatest basketball coach ever, who died in 2010 at the age of 99. Wooden was white, a Midwesterner and a devout Christian, while Abdul-Jabbar is Black, from New York City and a devout Muslim.
The author states that Wooden was much more than a basketball guru. He was also his teacher, his friend, and, though he never told him, his role model. Their relationship had been born over basketball, but eventually that became the least important aspect of it. The author writes that among those things that he and Wooden had in common was the belief that playing basketball wasn’t the end, but rather the means to make our lives more fulfilling.  He states that their legacy as friends would be one of the most important and rewarding accomplishments of his life.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review and a review of Shaped by God: Thinking and Feeling in Tune with the Psalms by John Piper
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ How the Nations Rage: Rethinking Faith and Politics in a Divided Age by Jonathan Leeman
I’M CURRENTLY READING…. Continue reading


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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional by Paul David Tripp. Crossway. 384 pages. 2004
****

Each morning, Paul Tripp tweets three gospel thoughts about the Christian faith on Twitter. His goal with the tweets is to confront and comfort people with the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He wants people to see that the grace of the gospel is not so much about changing the religious aspect of their lives, but about everything in life that defines, identifies, and motivates them. Through his daily tweets, he is calling people to see the gospel as a window through which they are to look at everything in life.
Those daily tweets inspired this book of 365 daily devotional readings, a book I am using as a part of my daily readings this year. Each day’s reading opens with one of his gospel tweets, lightly edited, and then a meditation that expands on the tweet. The reading ends with a passage of scripture included under “For Further Study and Encouragement”.
The author writes that the devotional is a call for us to remember…

  • The horrible disaster of sin
  • Jesus, who stood in our place.
  • The transforming power of the grace we couldn’t have earned.
  • The destiny that is guaranteed to all of God’s blood-purchased children.
  • His sovereignty and his glory.
  • The remembering is spiritual war, and for this we need grace.

The title of the book is not only a reference to the way the Bible talks about grace, but also an allusion to the hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness”, lyrics written by Thomas Chisholm and music by William M. Runyan:
Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see
I look forward to reading through the daily readings in this book this coming year.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
BOOK REVIEWS ~ The Gospel Comes with a House Key: Practicing Radically Ordinary Hospitality in Our Post-Christian World by Rosaria Butterfield and Take Heart: Christian Courage in the Age of Unbelief by Matt Chandler
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ How the Nations Rage: Rethinking Faith and Politics in a Divided Age by Jonathan Leeman
I’M CURRENTLY READING…. Continue reading


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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS


41: A Portrait of My Father by George W. Bush. Crown. 284 pages. 2014

****

George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st President of the United States was the only President in modern times not to write a memoir. His son, George W. Bush the 43rd President, has written this book that he says is not objective, but instead a love story from a son to his father. The book opens with an account of Bush the elder celebrating his 90th birthday with a parachute jump.
George H. W. Bush’s father was an accomplished golfer, United States Senator and investment banker. He started the family tradition of attending Yale. Bush’s mother, who died shortly after he lost his re-election bid to Bill Clinton, was a woman of strong faith.
Bush joined the Navy shortly after the Pearl Harbor attack, enlisting on his eighteenth birthday in 1942. He served for three years. During that time, he was shot down by the Japanese in the Pacific and rescued as the Japanese were trying to capture him. At age 78 he would return to the site and meet one of the Japanese soldiers that was there that day.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review and a review of Love Does for Kids by Bob and Lindsey Goff
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ How the Nations Rage: Rethinking Faith and Politics in a Divided Age by Jonathan Leeman
I’M CURRENTLY READING….

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13 Great Quotes on Work from Irresistible Faith by Scott Sauls

One of my favorite new books is Scott Sauls’ Irresistible Faith: Becoming the Kind of Christian The World Can’t Resist.  You can read my review of the book here.   
Scott writes that Christians operating with a sense of joy, purpose, and mission in their work are integral components of irresistible faith. Here are 13 great quotes on work from the book:

  • Because Christ worked tirelessly and joyfully for our rescue, restoration, and renewal through his life, death, burial, and resurrection, we now have the greatest reason to work toward the rescuing, restoring, and renewing of God’s world.
  • It is important for Christians especially, to view work as central and not peripheral to our humanity, and especially to our life in Christ.
  • It is no small thing that when God identified work as essential to the human experience, he did so before the fall and the curse happened, not after.
  • Work, all productive activity apart from rest and play, contributes to our fulfillment as God’s image-bearers. It is one of the primary ways we have been invited by God to participate in his mission to redeem, restore, and develop the world.
  • Because we bear God’s image, work is necessary for our flourishing and also for the fulfillment of our calling as God’s workers in God’s world.
  • What if, in the spirit of Scripture’s vision for the integration of faith and work, Christians became known as the bosses everyone wants to work for, the colleagues everyone wants to work alongside, and the employees everyone wants to hire (Ephesians 6:5–9)?
  • We cannot and will not fully flourish unless we become personally invested in the universal Christian job description—to use our time, energy, imagination, and resources to leave God’s world better than we found it.
  • We are wired to mirror God through creation and restoration, and in so doing to leave people, places, and things better than we found them.
  • It is essential to see that every kind of work that creates something new or enhances something broken or lacking is glorious because of how it intersects with God’s ongoing creative mission in the world.
  • Any kind of work that leaves people, places, or things in better shape than before—any kind of work that helps the city of man become more like the City of God where truth, beauty, goodness, order, and justice reign—is work that should be celebrated as good.
  • Every vocation is a calling from God to nudge the Garden toward becoming an irresistible, life-giving City that we have been made to inhabit.
  • As the image of God, every time we participate in work that creates and restores, we also participate in God’s work of leaving people, places, and things better.
  • In the gospel, just as every person is equal in significance to other people, so every vocation is equal in significance to other vocations.


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Book Review ~ IRRESISTIBLE FAITH by Scott Sauls

Irresistible Faith: Becoming the Kind of Christian the World Can’t Resist by Scott Sauls. Thomas Nelson. 224 pages. 2019
****

This is Pastor Scott Sauls’ fourth book. I always find his books challenging and quite helpful. Irresistible Faith is no exception. The “Foreword” is written by Bob Goff who writes that the book is an invitation for us to return to the most authentic version of our faith. It’s also an invitation to join, or create, an authentic community of people trying to go somewhere beautiful with their faith. He states that Scott has given us some beautiful reminders about what each of us needs and about the Someone we can trust to go with. Continue reading


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20 Great Quotes on Work, Vocation and Leadership from “God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Book of Proverbs” by Tim Keller with Kathy Keller

Tim and Kathy Keller followed The Songs of Jesus, their excellent devotional book on the Psalms, with a second devotional book, God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life on the Proverbs. Here are 25 great quotes on work, vocation and leadership from the book:

  • If you have been enjoying any success, have you been secretly taking credit for it? Are you seeing it as the gift of God that it is?
  • We should habitually seek out others who know more than we do about a subject and learn from them. We should have an entire life marked by being teachable rather than opinionated.
  • After getting advice from others, choose the best course in light of: any relevant biblical texts, the opinion of authorities (in family, church, and state), your conscience (James 4:17), an examination of your motives, the best use of your gifts and abilities in God’s service, and finally an assessment of your decision’s impact on others.
  • Nothing is trivial. When you comb your hair, you bring order out of chaos, as God did at the beginning (Genesis 1:1–3). Do everything for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).

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