Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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THIS & THAT: A Roundup of Favorite Articles and Quotes

  • Speeding in Opposite Directions: Lightyear and Maverick. Brett McCracken writes “Yet for all these similarities, the two summer blockbusters that bear their names could not be more different. And the differences between Maverick and Lightyear reveal subtle but important cultural divisions in how we view the past, the future, and the nature of progress.”
  • 2 Films Explore a Volatile Question: ‘What Is a Woman?’ Brett McCracken writes “Two recent documentaries have spoken up, offering rarely heard pushback on the sexual revolution’s party line. While you won’t find these films in theaters or on major streaming sites—no corporate entity could survive association with them—they are worth seeking out and discussing.”
  • Roe v. Wade Has Ended – Our Pro-Life Work Has Not. On this special episode of the Ask Pastor John podcast, John Piper responds to the question “As the work continues, what has been your answer to the question “What should I do?” How have you answered that question in your own life and ministry?”
  • Roe v. Wade Has Been Overturned…What Now? Scott Sauls writes “The answer to what it means to be consistently pro-life includes laying down our own lives for others, just as Christ has done for us.”
  • The FAQs: SCOTUS Upholds Religious Freedom in Praying Coach Case. Joe Carter writes “The Supreme Court issued its ruling in Kennedy v. Bremerton, a religious liberty case involving a Washington State high school football coach who lost his job because he prayed silently on the 50-yard line after a football game. The decision states, “The Free Exercise and Free Speech Clauses of the First Amendment protect an individual engaging in a personal religious observance from government reprisal; the Constitution neither mandates nor permits the government to suppress such religious expression.””
  • Praying Football Coach Wins at Supreme Court. Daniel Silliman writes “Joseph Kennedy’s prayers are protected by the First Amendment’s right to free speech and free exercise of religion, the court decided. The coach didn’t coerce any Bremerton, Washington, high school players into praying, so the school district was wrong to try to stop him from practicing his Christian faith.”

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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

  • A Conversation with Tim Keller. This interview with Tim Keller by Mike Cosper is an excellent bonus episode on The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill
  • Abram Van Engen, Professor: Origin Stories. On this episode of the Working with Dan Doriani podcast, Dan talks to Abram Van Engen, professor of English at Washington University in St. Louis, Executive Director of the Carver Project, and the author of two books. The second and most well-known is titled City on a Hill, a History of American Exceptionalism.
  • Managing Tension. On this episode of the Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast, Stanley discusses why a certain amount of tension is necessary for a healthy organization. Leaders must learn to recognize the difference between “conflicts that need to be resolved” versus “tensions that need to be managed.
  • “You Are An Agent of Flourishing” Featuring Amy Sherman. On this episode of the Denver Institute for Faith & Work Faith & Work Podcast, join Joanna Meyer and Amy Sherman, author of Kingdom Calling and the new book Agents of Flourishing, as they discuss community, shalom, and the Church.
  • Called to Lead. My book Called to Lead: Living and Leading for Jesus in the Workplace is available in both a paperback and Kindle edition. Read a free sample (Introduction through Chapter 2).
  • On this episode of the Minute with Maxwell podcast, John Maxwell tells us that a career is what you get paid for, while a calling is what you’re made for. You can quit a career at any time, but a calling stays with you throughout your life.
  • Examining Our Aspirations & Worship in the Great Resignation. Judy Allen writes “The impact of the Great Resignation will not be fully understood for years, but Christians can take immediate advantage of it by asking ourselves two important questions: To what do we aspire? Who, or what, do we worship?”

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  • The Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week
  • My Review of The Road to J.O.Y. Leading with Faith, Playing with Purpose, Leaving a Legacy by Scott Drew
  • Quotes from the book You’re Only Human: How Your Limits Reflect God’s Design and Why That’s Good News by Kelly Kapic

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My Review of Where the Crawdads Sing

Where the Crawdads Sing, rated PG-13
***

Where the Crawdads Sing, based on the bestselling novel by Delia Owens, is a well-made and acted film that has some content concerns. For those who have not read the book (as myself), the film includes a few surprising twists.
The film is directed by Olivia Newman and the screenplay is written by Oscar nominee Lucy Alibar (Beasts of the Southern Wild).
The film, primarily set in the 1950’s and 1960’a, is about Kya Clark, played well by Daisy Edgar-Jones. Daisy and her family live in the marshes of Barkley Cove, North Carolina. When she is young (the young Kya is played by Jojo Regina), she meets a boy on the marshes named Tate Walker. Kya’s father (played by Garrett Dillahunt), is an alcoholic with a bad temper. He eventually drives Kya’s siblings and then her mother to leave the home, leaving Kya with her father, who eventually abandons her as well.
Kya has to survive on her own, and becomes known as the “Marsh Girl”. She is helped by the friendly Christian couple – Michael Hyatt as Mabel and Sterling Macer Jr. as Jumpin’ – that run the country grocery store.
When Kya is older, she meets Tate again, played by Taylor John Smith, and he teaches her to read and write. Kya has a real talent for drawing the animals, insects and trees she encounters in the marsh. Continue reading


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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS


New Creation – Mac Powell
****

I’ve long enjoyed Mac Powell’s music, mostly from his time as lead singer of four-time Grammy winners Third Day. I also enjoyed his 2019 album Back Again with Mac Powell and the Family Reunion. In fact, my wife Tammy and I saw Powell with his band the Family Reunion in November 2019, which was the last concert we saw before concerts were shut down due to the pandemic.

Me and Mac

Powell has also released two country music solo albums, but this is his first solo album of Christian music, and it’s a good one. He brings his distinctive baritone voice – one of the best in music – to these songs with a bit of a country/southern flavor. The album is produced by Jonathan Smith, Hank Bentley, Jeff Pardo, Seth Mosely, Colby Wedgeworth, and Ed Cash. Powell co-wrote each song, collaborating with Jonathan Smith, Ethan Hulse, Seth Mosley, Jeff Pardo, Brenton Brown, Hank Bentley, Matt Maher, Benji Cowart, Casey Beathard and Tommy Iceland.
Below are a few comments about each song:

 

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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

Unguarded by Scottie Pippen with Michael Arkush. Atria Books. 303 pages. 2021  
***

Scottie Pippen is one of the greatest players in the history of the National Basketball Association. He is a six-time world champion with the Chicago Bulls and a member of the Hall of Fame. He also won two Gold Medals as a member of the U.S. Olympic Basketball team. I, along with my family, was blessed to see the Bulls play in person many times during their incredible run, even though tickets were incredibly hard to get. It was a very special time in sports, one that I doubt I will ever see again.
Until now, Pippen has not written his autobiography, though his career was certainly worthy of one. After watching the acclaimed 2020 ESPN documentary The Last Dance, (for which teammate Michael Jordan was paid $10 million and no other Bull was paid anything), Pippen decided it was time to tell his story. He writes that there is a great deal in the ESPN documentary that has no business being in there, and also that a great deal that should have been included has been left out. Pippen writes that the documentary failed to give his Hall of Fame career the treatment it deserves. He states that The Last Dance was Jordan’s chance to tell his story, and Unguarded is Pippen’s.

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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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My Review of Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris

Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, rated PG
****

Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris is a delightful film that we thoroughly enjoyed, starring Oscar nominee Lesley Manville (Phantom Thread). The film was directed by Anthony Fabian, and the screenplay was written by Fabian, Carroll Cartwright, Keith Thompson and Olivia Hatreed, based on a 1958 novel by Paul Gallico.
The film is set in London in the 1950’s. Ada Harris, played by Manville, is a hard-working and good-hearted cleaning lady who has not heard from her Air Force husband who has been missing in action for twelve years. Vi Butterfield, played by Ellen Thomas, is a fellow cleaning lady and Ada’s good friend. Ada still holds out hope that her husband will one day walk back into her life. But then that hope is shattered when she receives a package containing his ring in the mail.
Ada sees a Dior dress that has been purchased by one of clients, and immediately falls in love with it. She decides to save up for a Dior dress of her own. She takes on sewing work to help raise the money for the trip to Dior in Paris and the dress.


SPOILER ALERT: After foolishly losing a good amount at the dog races, despite being encouraged against the bet by the kind-hearted Archie, played by Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy from the Harry Potter films), and not being paid by one of her customers, she loses hope that she will ever get her dream dress.
But then Ada receives a surprise visit indicating that she should have been receiving a widow’s pension all of these years. That unexpected money will help her get to Paris where she can buy her dream dress.
In Paris she is looked down upon and invisible by Dior’s manager, Claudine Colbert, played by Oscar nominee Isabelle Huppert (Elle), but befriended by Marquis de Chassagne, played by Lambert Wilson, who lets her attend the exclusive by invitation only fashion show as his guest. Ada is overjoyed by the dresses she sees. She falls in love with a red dress named “Temptation”.
It will take a few days for her dress to be fitted and made, so the young accountant Andre Fauvel, played by Lucas Bravo, lets her stay at his home as his sister is away. The “Face of Dior”, model, Natasha, played by Alba Baptista, gives her a ride to the man’s home. Marquis de Chassagne also begins taking a liking to Ada. Ada will build a friendship with the two during her short time in Paris.


The film features beautiful costumes, a bit of romance, scenes of Paris and a very good cast, all led by a wonderful performance by Manville.
In a time in which woke film studios are adding as many “messages” into their films as possible, it was a joy to watch this film, which was heart-warming and had no content concerns.


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THIS & THAT: A Roundup of Favorite Articles and Quotes

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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

  • Does Every Christian Do Kingdom Work? Peter Orr writes “We’ll see that while Paul does affirm the theological and eschatological value of all work that Christians do, he nevertheless also distinguishes between two different types of work. All work done by a Christian can and should be done to God, but only some work is done for the kingdom of God.”
  • What Makes Christian Leadership ‘Christian’? Season 2 of the You’re Not Crazypodcast launches with a conversation between Ray Ortlund and Sam Allberry as they discuss what makes Christian leadership distinctly “Christian.”
  • How Do I Handle a Job That Requires Overtime? Russ Gehrlein responds to the question “How can I handle a job that demands overtime/making an idol of success in my work?”
  • What Does It Mean to Be Called? “Calling” is a term that is commonly used in Christian life. But what does it actually mean to have a calling? Join Joanna Meyer and Brian Gray on this episode of the Denver Institute for Faith & Work podcast, as they discuss this important topic with Daniel Steiner, a leadership coach with over 20 years of experience as a pastor, professor, and speaker; and with William Klein, Professor Emeritus of New Testament Interpretation at Denver Seminary. Together they have co-authored What Is My Calling?: A Biblical and Theological Exploration of Christian Identity.

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  • My Review of God Loves Your Work: Discover Why He Sends You to Do What You Do by Larry Peabody
  • Snippets from the book You’re Only Human: How Your Limits Reflect God’s Design and Why That’s Good News by Kelly Kapic

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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

Sing! In Christ Alone. Live at the Getty Music Worship Conference – Keith & Kristyn Getty and Friends
****

This is the fifth live album that Keith & Kristyn Getty have released from their annual Sing! conferences (one for each conference). I always enjoy these albums as they bring back special memories from attending the conference. Sing! In Christ Alone was recorded at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville in September 2021. The sixteen songs on the album feature artists such as Keith & Kristyn Getty, Matt Boswell and Matt Papa, Dana Masters, Laura Story, Chris Tomlin, Sandra McCracken, Jubilant Sykes, Bill Gaither, Buddy Greene, CityAlight and more.
Below is the album track list:
Psalm 150 (Praise the Lord) – This song was written and performed by Matt Boswell and Matt Papa.
Come Thou Almighty King – This song was written by Felice De Giardini, and arranged by Tommy Bailey, Sarah Gehri, Nathan Mickle and Tom Yarbrough. The lead vocal is performed by Tommy Bailey.
Amazing Grace – The lyrics of this song were written by John Newton. The lead vocals are performed by Kristyn Getty and Dana Masters, with saxophone from Kirk Whalum.
Christ is All in All. This new song, which debuted at the conference, was written by Kristyn Getty, Ben Shive and Dwan Hill. The lead vocal is performed by Kristyn Getty.

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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

BOOK REVIEW:
All Things Possible: My Story of Faith, Football, and the First Miracle Season by Kurt Warner with Michael Silver. HarperOne. 284 pages. 2013 
****

The recent film American Underdog was based on this 2000 book about the incredible story of Kurt Warner. While I was somewhat disappointed that the film did not emphasize Warner’s Christian faith (read my review of the film here), that is not the case with this book.
The book tells the now well-known story of Warner, from being the starting quarterback at Northern Iowa University only his senior year, not being drafted, playing in the Arena Football league with the Iowa Barnstormers, stocking shelves for minimum wage at Hy-Vee to make ends meet, and playing in NFL Europe with the Amsterdam Admirals. He was eventually signed as a backup quarterback with the St. Louis Rams and when the starter was hurt in the preseason, Warner got the chance he had been waiting years for, and he made the most out of it leading the Rams to the Super Bowl, where Warner was named Most Valuable Player.
Warner’s parents divorced when he was four. He was raised in the Roman Catholic church, and though he doesn’t remember having much passion for his religion back then, he was an altar boy, and went to confession and Sunday school.
The book tells of his meeting his future wife Brenda, then a divorced mother of two, at the Wild E. Coyote bar. It was Brenda who was a Christian at that time, with Kurt becoming a Christian later on.
The book shows how his faith grew to the point that he now wants to be a role model for Christ in everything that he does. He writes that sharing his faith and glorifying Jesus is the central focus of his time on this earth.
I recommend this book for anyone who enjoyed American Underdog, and would like to know more of the Warner’s story.

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BOOK CLUB ~ Providence by John Piper
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