Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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My Review of 21 BRIDGES

21 Bridges, rated R
***

21 Bridges is an intense thriller about a police chase of two murderers of multiple police officers through the streets of Manhattan overnight. The film is well-made and exciting, but does include a significant amount of adult language and violence. The film is directed by Brian Kirk (Game of Thrones, Luther), and written by Adam Mervis and Michael Carnahan. The film had a budget of approximately $33 million.

The film begins with a young boy, Andre Davis, at the funeral of his policeman father who was killed in the line of duty. That young boy, played by Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther, 24, Marshall), would grow up to be a police detective in New York City, because it was “in his DNA”.  The film then moves forward nineteen years to the present day.

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A Prayer for Thanksgiving

Father in Heaven,

Again, we have come to that one day a year in our country which is set aside – in name at least – for being thankful. But as children of the King, we are always to be thankful. The Apostle Paul tells us to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18). 1 Chronicles 16:34 tells us to give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!

I love the holiday season, and Thanksgiving is really the kick-off for that season. Today, many will be gathering with family and friends, enjoying a turkey dinner and perhaps watching some football. Soon we might be joining many others searching for bargains as we begin our Christmas shopping and the decorating of our homes for Christmas. But before we get into the busyness of the season, let us take time to thank the Lord for all he has done for us this year. Paul tells us in Colossians 3:17 that whatever we do, in word or deed, we are do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Father, we pause to thank you for the many blessings that you have bestowed on us this year. Just a few of those for me are:

  • Salvation in Christ – the greatest gift – and the sustaining grace to persevere each day. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
  • A Christ-centered marriage which will reach 40 years next year.
  • The family you have blessed me with, both immediate and extended. Thank you for the good health you have provided so many of them, and the good medical care you have provided for those who have faced challenges this year.
  • A wonderful church, led by faithful pastors, and the incredible people that make up our small group.
  • Good friends to enjoy life with, and also to share their burdens (Galatians 6:2).
  • For your peace and comfort during times of loss.

Father, we know that life is a gift, and we are not guaranteed the next second. James reminds us that we do not know what tomorrow will bring (James 4:14). Therefore, we thank you for the blessings that you have already provided, and we trust you for the future.

In Jesus name,  Amen

NOTE:  As you gather with friends and family today, why not take a few minutes to share what you are thankful for this year.


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My Review of A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, rated PG
***

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood follows 2018’s excellent (and superior) documentary about Fred Rogers, also known as “Mr. Rogers”, Won’t You Be My Neighbor? The new film, inspired by the real-life friendship between Fred Rogers and Esquire magazine journalist Tom Junod, is well acted and has several positive messages, but is also slow and more melancholy than you might expect.
The film is directed by Marielle Heller (Can You Ever Forgive Me?), and written by Emmy nominee Micah Fitzerman-Blue (Transparent), and Emmy nominee Noah Harpster (Transparent). The film is based on the Esquire magazine article “Can You Say….’Hero’? by Tom Junod.
Lloyd Vogel (the fictitious name for the Tom Junod character), played by two-time Golden Globe nominee Matthew Rhys (The Americans), is a cynical Esquire magazine writer, who normally writes hard-hitting investigative articles. In 1998, Vogel is assigned by Ellen, his editor, played by Oscar winner Christine Lahti (Lieberman in Love), to write a 400-word piece on Fred Rogers, played by two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump, Philadelphia), for the magazine’s issue on heroes. She states that writing the piece will help Vogel’s reputation for being too hard on his subjects. Continue reading


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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS


Christmas – Sandra McCracken
****

I love Christmas music and each year add new albums to my collection. Christmas by Sandra McCracken is a new album that I can recommend to you. I became aware of McCracken’s music at a few conferences that my wife Tammy and I have attended recently.
The album was recorded over three days in a studio just outside of Nashville. McCracken wrote that she joined up with Gabe Dixon, Will Sayles, Anthony LaMarca, Joey Bradshaw, Cindy Morgan, Matt Pierson, Don Chaffer and Tim Nicholson to make the record. Russ Long mixed the recordings together with orchestration from Isaac Wardell and friends in Charlottesville, VA, vocals from Josh Garrels in Indiana, and cello from Cara Fox and B3 from Phil Madeira.
McCracken has had the desire to record a Christmas album for years. It was on a trip to Israel two years ago when she visited the birthplace of Jesus and the shepherd’s field near Bethany that pushed her to make Christmas. The eleven songs include both originals and Christmas classics. Here are a few comments on each song:

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  • More of this review and reviews of Christmas Day: Christmas Songs of Worship by Chris Tomlin and 50 Year Trip: Live at Red Rocks by John Fogerty
  • Music News
  • Music Quotes
  • Song of the Week Lyrics

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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS


The Meaning of Marriage: A Couple’s Devotional: A Year of Daily Devotions by Tim Keller and Kathy Keller. Viking 392 pages. 2019
****

This is Tim Keller and Kathy Keller’s third devotional book, with previous books on the Psalms (The Songs of Jesus: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Psalms) and Proverbs (God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Book of Proverbs), both of which were excellent and I used as a part of my devotional reading.
The Kellers wrote The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God in 2011. In the “Introduction” of this new devotional, Kathy Keller indicates that it is not necessary to have read the earlier book in order to benefit from this new devotional. She then recaps some of the basic themes of The Meaning of Marriage, such as:

  • The main problem every marriage faces is the self-centeredness in both spouse’s hearts, and
  • The essence of marriage is a covenant, a binding promise.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review and reviews of:

  • Live in Grace, Walk in Love: A 365-Day Journey by Bob Goff
  • Susie: The Life and Legacy of Susannah Spurgeon, wife of Charles H. Spurgeon by Ray Rhodes Jr.

BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur
I’M CURRENTLY READING….
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3 Advent Devotionals to Prepare Your Hearts to Celebrate the Birth of Jesus


Over the past three years, my wife Tammy and I have read these three Advent devotionals to prepare our hearts to celebrate the birth of Jesus; we would commend them to you. Here is a brief review of each of them.

Come, Let Us Adore Him: A Daily Advent Devotional by Paul Tripp

This year, I’ve been enjoying Paul Tripp’s devotional New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional. In this 2017 book of daily Advent devotional readings, he writes that the Christmas story is the story of stories, but for some it suffers from our familiarity with it. He writes that when we are familiar with things, we tend not to celebrate them as we once did. Familiarity tends to rob us of our wonder. As a result, he writes that many of us aren’t gripped by the stunningly magnificent events and truths of the birth of Jesus anymore. Many of us are no longer gripped by wonder as we consider what this story tells us about the character and plan of God. And sadly, many of us are no longer humbled by what the incarnation of Jesus tells us about ourselves.
During the busy holiday season other things capture and control our hearts. When that happens however, little room remains for wonder and worship. He writes that familiarity often means that what is very important may no longer exercise important influence over us in the way it should. He tells us that he wrote this book with the hope and prayer that God would use it to recapture our attention and reactivate our awe. Continue reading


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My Review of FORD V. FERRARI

Ford v. Ferrari, rated PG-13
***

Ford v. Ferrari is the real-life story of the Ford Motor Company trying to revive their sagging sales by taking on Ferrari in the 24 Hours of Le Mans car race in France. The film is well-made, directed and acted, but has too much adult language to be considered family friendly. The film is directed by Oscar nominee James Mangold (Logan), and written by Jez Butterworth (Edge of Tomorrow), John-Henry Butterworth (Edge of Tomorrow), and Jason Keller. The film runs a lengthy 152 minutes (but doesn’t seem that long), and had a budget of nearly $100 million.
The sales at the Ford Motor Company are slipping in 1963. Marketing executive Lee Iacocca, played by John Bernthal, comes up with the idea of reviving the company and appealing to young drivers by winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans car race. To facilitate this, Ford attempts to buy out Enzo Ferrari, played by Remo Girone, and his company, which has won four of the past five 24 Hours of Le Mans races.  (SPOILER ALERT*** But just before the deal was to close, Enzo Ferrari pulls out, disagreeing with Ford’s demand to retain control. As a result, the bankrupt Ferrari was bought by Fiat. When the deal falls through, Henry Ford II, played by Tracy Letts (Lady Bird), decides to go to war with Ferrari, with a goal of winning the Le Mans race.***) Continue reading