Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS


Letters to a Future Champion: My Time with Mr. Pulver by Dottie Pepper. Mission Point. 195 pages. 2021
****

Letters to a Future Champion is really a unique book. It is written by Dottie Pepper, a 17-time winner on the LPGA Tour, two-time major champion, and current lead CBS golf reporter. The book tells the story of her being mentored by George Pulver Sr., a golfer, course designer and advocate for the game throughout the Northeast. The book demonstrates the powerful impact a mentor can have on the skills/job and life of the mentee.

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BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review and a review of Get Up, Baby! My Seven Decades with the St. Louis Cardinals by Mike Shannon with Rick Hummel
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ Providence by John Piper
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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS


A Sheep Remembers by David B. Calhoun. Banner of Truth. 200 pages. 2021
****

Ligon Duncan writes a warm Preface for this wonderful devotionally written book by one of my favorite professors at Covenant Seminary, where he taught for 30 years. I had two church history classes with him early in my time at Covenant, and he was also the speaker at our church years ago for a men’s breakfast. Duncan writes that the Lord called Dr. Calhoun home just as this book had been safely delivered to the publisher.
Calhoun, who describes himself as a preacher and teacher, tells us that the twenty-third Psalm is probably the best known of all the chapters of the Bible and among the most memorable words ever written in any language. In this book he tries to explain the words of Psalm 23 as David meant them, but also in the fuller light of the New Testament, a light that the psalmist partially saw. Psalm 23 is about the Lord Jesus Christ.

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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

Book Reviews

Seasons of Sorrow: The Pain of Loss and the Comfort of God by Tim Challies. Zondervan. 215 pages. 2022
****

On November 3, 2020, Nick Challies, 20-year-old son of Tim and Aileen, collapsed while playing a game in Louisville, Kentucky, where he was going to Boyce College and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He was going to be a pastor, and was engaged to be married. Sadly, he could not be revived.
Flying to Louisville from Canada, Tim began to write through his seasons of sorrow. In this book, he traces his journey through four seasons, beginning in the fall and advancing through winter, spring, and summer. The book of short reflections by a father who lost his only son, ends exactly one year after it began, on the first anniversary of the death of Nick.

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BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review and a review of Up and Down: Victories and Struggles in the Course of Life by Bubba Watson with Don Yaeger
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ Providence by John Piper
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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

Coach K: The Rise and Reign of Mike Krzyzewski by Ian O’Connor. Mariner Books. 384 pages. 2022  
****

This book by Ian O’Connor (I had previously read his book The Captain: The Journey of Derek Jeter), looks at the life and career of former Duke Men’s basketball coach Mike “Coach K” Krzyzewski from his growing up in Chicago through the announcement of his retirement before his 42nd and final season (2021-22). Although Krzyzewski did not agree to be interviewed for the project, he also did not discourage those closest to him from speaking with the author for this well researched book. Overall, I felt that the book was a balanced look at Krzyzewski, who I have always appreciated for his success while running a clean program.
Krzyzewski was born on February 13, 1947 on the north side of Chicago. He enrolled at Archbishop Weber, an all-boys high school. Known as “Mickey”, he made the Weber varsity basketball team as a sophomore despite showing up for the first practice with a cast on a wrist that he broke playing touch football. He would twice be the leading scorer in Chicago’s Catholic League, before going to West Point to play for Bob Knight. The long and complicated relationship between Knight and Krzyzewski is a major theme in the book.

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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

Lessons from the Upper Room: The Heart of the Savior by Sinclair Ferguson. Ligonier Ministries. 237 pages. 2021
****

In this book, respected theologian Sinclair Ferguson, in his distinctive warm writing style, takes us through chapters 13 through 17 of John’s gospel, John’s description of events in the upper room on the evening before Jesus’ crucifixion. In five chapters, 155 verses, and less than four thousand words we are given what the Puritan writer Thomas Goodwin called “a window into Christ’s heart.” Ferguson tells us that in some ways, chapters 13–17 are a gospel within the gospel; in fact, they reflect the shape of the whole.
I had previously benefitted from Ferguson’s twelve message teaching series Lessons from the Upper Room that was released by Ligonier Ministries in 2014. This book contains significantly more content than the original teaching series, though Ferguson tells us that the book is by no means a complete exposition of John 13–17.
Ferguson invites us to climb the stairs leading to an upper room on a house in Jerusalem. Here we can eavesdrop on what transpired during the late afternoon and evening of the day before the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth. He tells us that thirteen men have come together for a Passover meal. One will leave early on a mission of betrayal. The remaining twelve will later make their way to the garden of Gethsemane. From there they will be scattered. One will be taken by force on a nightmare journey. By this time tomorrow, Friday, the lifeless body of Jesus of Nazareth will be carried to a garden tomb.  But this is not the end, just the end of the beginning. For early on Sunday morning, He will rise again from the dead. He now lives forever as a Prince and Savior.

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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS


Talking to GOATs: The Moments You Remember and the Stories You Never Heard by Jim Gray. William Morrow. 2020
****

I thoroughly enjoyed this book by Emmy Award-winning sportscaster Jim Gray as he looks back on his four decades of sports reporting. The “Foreword” is written by his good friend, Tom Brady, one of the GOATS (Greatest Of All Time) that he writes about in this entertaining book.
Gray begins by writing about interviewing boxer Mike Tyson after he bit off a piece of Evander Holyfield’s ear. Among the others that he writes about are Muhammed Ali, Bill Walton, of whom he writes that there is no better friend, Jerry West, John Madden and Hank Aaron. He writes at length about an interview with Pete Rose which he was forced to apologize for. He writes that what Rose did was damaging to Gray, and the ramifications of that moment have reverberated ever since.
He writes about Bud Selig and the steroids era in major league baseball, Tiger Woods, Don Shula, Michael Phelps, Floyd Mayweather, the “Dream Team”, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest and the “Malice at the Palace”, Mike Ditka, and LeBron James and “The Decision”.

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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

R.C. Sproul: Defender of the Reformed Faith by Nate Pickowicz. H&E Publishing. 140 pages. 2022 
****

In this warmly written and concise biography of R.C. Sproul, pastor and author Nate Pickowicz shares an appreciation that many of us have for the life and ministry of R.C. Sproul, who went home to be with the Lord in December, 2017. He writes that Sproul’s five decades of ministry loosely reflected the five solas of the Reformation.
The author focuses primarily on Sproul’s public ministry, quoting liberally from Sproul’s books and on his defense of the faith. Each chapter begins with a quote from Sproul.
The author’s fast-moving biography tells us that Sproul knew at 13 years of age that he would marry Vesta Voorhis. They would marry in 1960. He writes of Sproul’s father’s multiple strokes and death, telling us that it would be his father’s suffering that would drive him into the arms of the Suffering Savior, writing about his conversion in his dormitory room in 1957.

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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

What Does It Mean That God Is Sovereign? (Crucial Questions) by R.C. Sproul. Ligonier Ministries. 77 pages. 2022
****

This is one of the newest books in R.C. Sproul’s Crucial Questions series, all of which are free in the digital edition. These books/booklets offer clear answers to the most common and difficult questions about the Christian faith. In this volume, Sproul looks at God’s sovereignty over nothing, creation, salvation, human actions and evangelism.
Sproul writes that when we say that God is sovereign, we are saying that His power is supreme in all reality, and no power in heaven or on earth can possibly resist the power of God. He tells us that there are four ways that God is sovereign. He is sovereign over nature. He is sovereign over history and human affairs. And He is sovereign in His inherent right to impose obligations on His creatures, to say to them, “Thou shalt not do this” and “Thou shalt do that.” He writes that God is sovereign, not we ourselves, and His sovereignty extends to all things, not only the creation of the world but the sustaining and governing of the world, and what we describe as the laws of nature only describe the ordinary ways that God in His sovereignty governs nature.
As with all of Sproul’s teaching, he communicates what can be hard to understand subjects in an easy-to-understand manner.

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Tim Keller’s How to Find God Series of Books

Tim Keller published three short books – On Birth, On Marriage and On Death – in his How to Find God series. Tim Keller’s aim in his How to Find God series is to help readers facing major life changes to think about what constitutes the truly changed life. The purpose is to give readers the Christian foundations for life’s most important and profound moments, beginning with birth and baptism, moving into marriage, and concluding with death.

The foundation of the three books is a sermon Keller preached at his wife Kathy’s sister’s funeral in 2018. Here are my reviews of each of the books; On Birth is the first book in the series.


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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

BOOK REVIEW:

Phil: The Rip-Roaring (and Unauthorized!) Biography of Golf’s Most Colorful Superstar by Alan Shipnuck. Avid Reader Press/Simon & Schuster. 256 pages. 2022
***

Alan Shipnuck conducted nearly two hundred interviews for this book (players, caddies, swing coaches, etc.). He only spoke to Phil Mickelson once for the book, and that one call has caused all sorts of problems for Mickelson (his comments about Saudi Arabia and the PGA Tour), which continue to this day.
The author writes that Mickelson, a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, winner of six major championships and 45 PGA Tour wins, tied for eighth all-time, is an enigma. His fans adore “Lefty”, who responds to their cheers with a grin and a “thumbs up”. But his longtime caddy, Jim “Bones” Mackay (who Mickelson owed $900,000), stated “Nobody knows Phil Mickelson. Nobody. I spent twenty-five years standing next to the guy and he’s still a total mystery to me.”
In this book, the author shares both positives (how he has helped other players, his philanthropic work, his generosity with those in the service industry, and his random acts of kindness), and negatives (his ties with men of ill repute, his huge gambling debts – he had gambling losses totaling more than $40 million in the four-year period 2010–14) – and becoming involved in a messy insider-trading case) about Mickelson.3 The author tells us that the book is an attempt to reconcile the multitudes within Mickelson, and help us understand who the real Phil Mickelson is.

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