Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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My Review of UNHINGED

Unhinged, rated R
*

Unhinged is an intense, but disappointing B-grade thriller, that doesn’t allow its Oscar winning lead actor to do much more than grunt. The film, directed by Derrick Borte, with the script written by Carl Ellsworth, also includes a significant amount of violence and adult language.
The film begins with a bloated Russell Crowe, Oscar winner for Best Actor in Gladiator and also nominated for A Beautiful Mind and The Insider), portraying “The Man”, sitting in his pickup truck in the rain outside of a home with a “For Sale” sign in the front yard. He is sweating and gulping down prescription meds like they were candy, something he does throughout the film. We see him take off his wedding ring. We assume that his ex-wife, and possibly others, are inside the house. Eventually, he gets out of the car, kills all inside and sets the house on fire.
The next morning, we see Rachel, a hairdresser played by Caren Pistorius, being awakened by a phone call from her best friend and attorney Andy, played by Emmy nominee Jimmi Simpson (Westworld), who is helping her through a divorce. She is the mother of a young son, Kyle, played by Gabriel Bateman (Child’s Play). Rachel’s brother Fred, played by Austin P. McKenzie, and his girlfriend Mary, played by Juliene Joyner, also are temporarily living in her home. By oversleeping, Rachel misses an appointment with an important client, who then fires her. She also makes Kyle late for school – we assume not for the first time – which will earn him a detention. Continue reading


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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS


Uncommon Ground: Living Faithfully in a World of Difference, edited by Tim Keller and John Inazu. Thomas Nelson. 237 pages. 2020
***

Books in which a different author writes each chapter can be tricky. You might connect with one author and not another, and that’s just how I found this book. I found myself fully engaged with some chapters, while others were frankly a chore to get through.
I was attracted to the book by the fact that one of the editors, who also wrote a chapter, was Tim Keller, one of my favorite authors, and Lecrae, one of my favorite musical artists, also wrote one of the chapters. Among the contributors, I was also familiar with Sara Groves through her music, and Trillia Newbell through her writing and Tish Harrison Warren, through a book of hers my wife had recently read. The subject of the book caught my attention as we live in a very divided culture, including among those who identify as Christians.

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BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review and reviews of
~     The Big Fella: Babe Ruth and the World He Created by Jane Leavy
~     Ben Hogan: An American Life by James Dodson
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur
I’M CURRENTLY READING…. Continue reading


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THIS & THAT: A Weekly Roundup of Favorite Articles and Quotes

  • How to have Ministry Heroes Without Plagiarizing Them. Jeff Robinson writes “Scripture certainly gives warrant to have heroes, to study and emulate men and women of the faith whose lives are so marked by humble, courageous Christ-honoring character and grace-enabled skill in living the Christian life.”
  • Where is God When Your Dog Dies? Robert Yarbrough, who I enjoyed a class on Jeremiah with at Covenant Seminary a few years ago, writes “Yes, God cares when your dog (or cat, or horse, or other dear pet) reaches life’s end. And he cares for you as you grieve.”
  • 4 Things to Remember When Meeting with Jesus. In this short video, David Murray states “I would encourage young people (6-12 years old) to meet with Jesus through reading the Gospels, because that is where Jesus is primarily revealed.”
  • Sisters, You Have Permission to Lead an Ordinary Life. Melissa Kruger writes “When I’m overwhelmed by all the messages coming at me each day, I remind myself of 1 Thessalonians 4:11: “Aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands.” The quiet, godly life described here is within our reach. And I’ve seen it lived out firsthand.”
  • When ‘You Are Enough’ Simply Isn’t Enough. Nancy Guthrie writes “I’m convinced that when we survey the Scriptures, we discover we don’t have to be afraid of, ashamed of, or lose hope because of the emptinessin our lives. Instead, we can face the emptiness with confidence that God can and will work in our inadequacy as only he can—filling it with his own divine fullness.”
  • Parenting is Gospel Ministry. In this workshop, Paul Tripp, author of Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family, speaks on how to let the gospel shape what you say and do with the children who have been entrusted to your care.
  • When God Says No to Your Earnest Prayers. Garrett Kell shares four gracious truths that can guard us from despairing when the Lord says no to our earnest prayers.

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    • More interesting article links
    • Favorite Quotes of the Week

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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

  • Called to Lead. My book Called to Lead: Living and Leading for Jesus in the Workplace is now available in both a paperback and Kindle edition. Read a free sample (Introduction through Chapter 2).
  • How to Love Our Difficult Neighbors (At Work). Russ Gehrlein writes “Certainly, whether we are supervisors or peers, working from home or back in an office, we can make every effort to provide tools to help our weak and inexperienced neighbors at work by methodically coaching, teaching, and mentoring them.”
  • How Firm a Foundation: Keys to Staying On-Mission Through a Crisis. David Fultz writes “We’d be foolish to expect that we can walk through life without experiencing the storms that often mark this broken world. When those storms come, we need foundational beliefs and direction that allow us to stand firm. We must be grounded and firmly rooted in the words of life.”
  • Transforming Lives Through the Dignity of Work. Sam Brownback writes “Every man, woman and child possesses inherent dignity, and that self-worth is often best realized in a family and through daily interaction with co-workers.”

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  • More links to interesting articles
  • The Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week
  • My Review of Lead: 12 Gospel Principles for Leadership in the Church by Paul David Tripp
  • Snippets from Os Guinness’ book “The Call: Finding and Fulfilling God’s Purpose For Your Life”

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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS


Evensong – Hymns and Lullabies at the Close of Day– Keith and Kristyn Getty
****

Evensong is the first new studio album for Keith and Kristyn Getty since 2016’s Facing a Task Unfinished. It is not your usual album of new modern hymns from the Gettys, but rather more of a Kristyn Getty solo project born out of a family tradition. The Gettys close out their days with a time of reflection in thought, song, and prayer. These are lullabies and hymns that they have sung to and for their own children.
The project was recorded in Nashville during the COVID-19 shelter at home season. Ben Shive, who produced the album with Keith and Kristyn, was able to gather recordings from each musical collaborator and create a project fusing the Celtic, folk, bluegrass, classical, and Americana sound the Gettys have become known for. The musical backing is more restrained than a normal Getty album, but no less beautiful. The cover art was specially created by internationally renowned Irish artist Ross Wilson. The album features guest appearances from Vince Gill, Heather Headley, Ellie Holcomb, Sierra Hull, Deborah Kelmme and Sandra McCracken
Below are a few thoughts about each song:

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  • More of this review and a review of Heaven – Sing! The Life Of Christ Quintology
  • Music News
  • Song of the Week Lyrics

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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS


Epic: An Around-the-World Journey through Christian History by Tim Challies. Zondervan. 175 pages. 2020
****

In this book, Tim Challies shows us a unique way to look at Christian history. Rather than just visiting historical sites, over the course of a year, he chose to focus on objects, key artifacts that had been preserved. His hope in approaching the project in this manner was that by listening to the small stories told by these remnants of Christian history he would begin to understand the larger story and its epic unfolding. In other words, he wanted to “experience” the history of Christianity.
As he planned for the project, which was generously funded for him, he had a few restrictions. First, he wanted to focus on objects rather than locations, buildings, or memorials as we often do when we go to historical sites. Second, he wanted to focus on objects that are available to the general public. In the book, you will read that he found exactly the kind of objects he had wanted to see. He discovered links to the past, historical artifacts he could see and study and sometimes even touch and hold, each telling him (and the reader), a different chapter of a much greater story.

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BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review and reviews of The Ten Commandments of Progressive Christianity by Michael Kruger and A Quiet Strength: The Life and Legacy of Jeannette M. Cathy by Trudy Cathy White
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur
I’M CURRENTLY READING…. Continue reading


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THIS & THAT: A Weekly Roundup of Favorite Articles and Quotes

  • The Sin of Racism. Tim Keller writes “Biblically, sin is anything that falls short of God’s will and glory, that violates his law and his character (1 John 3:4; Romans 3:23). There are at least four ways in which what we will be calling racism is a violation of God’s glory and therefore is a sin.”
  • What You Should Know About the 2020 Republican Party Platform. Joe Carter writes “Why should Christians care about a document that few non-politicians will ever read? Because of the influence the two major party platforms have on public policy.”
  • Be Careful What You Put Your Hope in, Including Politics. Randy Alcorn writes “When people put their hope in political parties and beliefs, these can become gods. Christians sometimes view political leaders and their platforms with a degree of faith that should be reserved only for God and his Kingdom. And sometimes they display a degree of hatred and scorn that should be reserved for Satan and his demons.”
  • The State of Theology Survey: 2020 Results. Nathan Bingham writes “What do Americans think about Jesus Christ, the Bible, truth, and ethics? Ligonier Ministries’ State of Theology provides insights. Every two years, we take the theological temperature of the United States to help Christians better understand today’s culture and equip the church with better insights for discipleship.” Read Joe Carter’s article on this survey.
  • What Are We Arguing About? Kevin DeYoung writes that we need to be clearer as Christians about where our disagreements lie.
  • Why Is It Important to Understand Penal Substitutionary Atonement? Unless we understand the doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement, we will not understand why Christ died. From one of the Ask Ligonier events, John MacArthur explains why the cross stands at the very heart of the Christian faith.

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  • More interesting article links
  • Favorite Quotes of the Week

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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles 

  • Called to Lead. My book Called to Lead: Living and Leading for Jesus in the Workplace is now available in both paperback and Kindle editions. Read a free sample (Introduction through Chapter 2).
  • Help! I Feel Like a Failure. In addressing a question from a reader who feels like a failure, Greg Phelan writes “We can find hope in our failure because God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness.”
  • 5 Things I Learned About Work from Working Remote. Daniel Darling writes that since working at home during the pandemic God has helped him see work in new ways.
  • Five Foundational Ideas About Work Taught in the Bible. Hugh Whelchel shares five foundational ideas about work taught in the Bible. Understanding these five ideas will help us build a solid, Biblical view of work, vocation, and calling.
  • Good Work and the Gift of a Hobby. Steve Lindsey writes “Hobbies can be a great option for many reasons, not the least of which is their overlooked ability to enhance our regular daily jobs.”

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  • More links to interesting articles
  • The Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week
  • My Review of Master of One: Find and Focus on the Work You Were Created to Do by Jordan Raynor
  • Snippets from Os Guinness’ book “The Call: Finding and Fulfilling God’s Purpose For Your Life”

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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

Restoration – Lecrae
****

This long-awaited album, Lecrae’s ninth studio album, is his follow-up to 2018’s collaboration album with Zaytoven Let the Trap Say Amen, and is his first solo album since 2017’s All Things Work Together. The album doesn’t disappoint.

Four songs were released prior to the full album. Restoration is the companion release to his upcoming book I Am Restored: How I Lost My Religion but Found My Faith. The album has Lecrae partnering with a large number of guest artists, songwriters and producers. The theme of Lecrae’s restoration from life’s difficulties weaves throughout the album. As expected, the production is crystal clear and the performances are all of a high quality.  The Road to Restoration, a behind the scenes look about the making of the album was released in three parts shortly before the album’s release.
Below are a few comments about each song.

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  • More of this review and reviews of Chris Tomlin and Friends
  • Music News
  • Song of the Week Lyrics – Sunday Morning by Lecrae, featuring Kirk Franklin

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