Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


Leave a comment

MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

Emmanuel: Christmas Songs of Worship – Chris Tomlin
*** ½ 

Chris Tomlin releases his fifth Christmas Songs of Worship project. His Christmas Songs of Worship series includes Miracle Of Love: Christmas Songs of Worship EP released in 2020, Christmas Day: Christmas Songs of Worship EP from 2019, 2015’s Adore: Christmas Songs of Worship, and the gold-certified Glory In The Highest: Christmas Songs of Worship from 2009. The new 12-song project, which includes four songs previously released on the above-mentioned EPs, was produced by Ed Cash and includes new songs as well as reimagined Christmas classics.  The album has Tomlin collaborating with CeCe Winans, We the Kingdom, Matt Redman, and Blessing Offor.
Below are a few comments about each song:

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

  • More of this review and a review of Interrobang by Switchfoot
  • Music News
  • Song of the Week Lyrics

Continue reading


Leave a comment

BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

Is God Really in Control? Trusting God in a World of Terrorism, Tsunamis, and Personal Tragedy by Jerry Bridges. NavPress. 160 pages. 2006
*** ½

I recently read and discussed this book with a few friends. God brought this older book by a trusted author along at just the right time, as a few of us were dealing with significant adversity in our lives.
Bridges tells us that the book is written for the average person who has not necessarily experienced major catastrophe, but who does frequently encounter the typical adversities and heartaches of life. The purpose of the book is twofold: First, he desires to glorify God by acknowledging His sovereignty and His goodness. And second, he desires to encourage God’s people by demonstrating from Scripture that God is in control of their lives, that He does indeed love them, and that He works out all the circumstances of their lives for their ultimate good.
The author tells us that in the arena of adversity, the Scriptures teach us three essential truths about God-truths we must believe if we are to trust Him in adversity. They are:

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review…
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ Providence by John Piper
I’M CURRENTLY READING…. Continue reading


Leave a comment

My Review of BELFAST

Belfast, rated PG-13
***

Belfast is a well-made film about a family living happily in a mixed (Protestant and Catholic) working class neighborhood in Belfast, Ireland during the late 1960’s. When a violent Protestant mob attempts to drive the Catholics out of the neighborhood, it threatens the family’s peaceful existence.
The film was written and directed by five-time Oscar nominee Kenneth Branagh (My Week with Marilyn, Henry V, Hamlet and Swan Song), and depicts a coming-of-age story based on his own life in Northern Ireland in the 1960s. His childhood coincided with the beginning of a violent period known as the Troubles, which lasted for decades.
The film is beautifully shot in black and white by cinematographer Haris Zambarlouskos, and features an excellent cast. The film captures the working-class neighborhood where children could once safely play in the streets. At the center of the film is family struggling financially, due in part to Pa having to pay significant back taxes, and trying to decide whether they should leave the country amidst the conflict.

At the center of the film is the likeable nine-year-old Buddy, played by Jude Hill. Buddy lives with his older brother Will, played by Lewis McAskie. We see Buddy playing in the street, watching television, going to the movies and church, and having a crush on a pretty Catholic girl in his class that he plans to marry one day. Buddy’s parents Ma and Pa are played by Caitriona Balfe (Outlander), and Jamie Dornan (Fifty Shades of Grey). Pa works in England as a carpenter, and only comes home every few weekends, while Ma raises Buddy and Will, and tries to make ends meet. Buddy’s grandparents are wonderfully played by Ciaran Hinds (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), and Oscar winner Judi Dench (Shakespeare in Love).
Hanging over the film is the big question the family is facing. Do they remain in this increasingly dangerous neighborhood where they’ve lived their entire lives, where extended family lives, where everyone knows everyone, or do they move somewhere safer, like England, Sydney or Vancouver, where nobody knows them, and start all over?
The musical soundtrack by Belfast native Van Morrison is a treat, and features several of his songs. The film does include some adult language and violence.
Belfast is a well-made film based on a true story.


Leave a comment

My Review of American Underdog

American Underdog, rated PG
*** ½

American Underdog tells the incredible story of Kurt Warner, from backup quarterback at Northern Iowa University to the Most Valuable Player in the Super Bowl. The film is directed by Andrew Erwin and Jon Erwin (I Can Only Imagine, I Still Believe, Mom’s Night Out). The screenplay is written by David Aaron Cohen (Friday Night Lights) and Michael Silver and is based on Warner’s 2000 book All Things Possible.
The film shows how Warner, played by Zachary Levi (Shazam!), begged Coach Allen, played by Adam Baldwin, his Northern Iowa University coach, to give him a chance. Despite doing well when he got his chance, he was not drafted in the National Football League (NFL). Later, he was signed to the Green Bay Packers, but was quickly released.
While at Northern Illinois University, Warner meets Brenda, played by Oscar winner Anna Paquin (The Piano), a divorced mom of two, at a country music bar. Brenda, a Christian, has trust issues, as her husband had cheated on her when she was pregnant with their second child. Brenda’s son Zach, played by Hayden Zaller, is disabled and nearly blind, because of an accident.
The film takes time to show how Kurt’s relationship builds with Brenda, her children and her parents. The love story between Kurt and Brenda and her children is a major element of the film, while his faith in Christ is not emphasized.
Not hearing from any NFL teams, and needing to make money to support Brenda and the children, Kurt takes a job stocking shelves at the local Hy-Vee. He is then approached by the Arena Football League’s Iowa Barnstormers Coach Jim Foster, played by Bruce McGill (Lincoln, Waiting Game). After leading the Barnstormers to the Arena Bowl, Warner was signed by the St. Louis Rams of the NFL. The film shows how Rams head coach Dick Vermeil, played by Dennis Quaid (The Rookie, I Can Only Imagine) believed in him, even if offensive coordinator Mike Martz, played by Chance Kelly, didn’t.
This is a well-made film that blends some scenes of Warner’s real-life football highlights with football scenes filmed for the movie. Warner was my all-time favorite football player, and it was a joy to watch this inspirational film based on his life story that everyone can enjoy.


Leave a comment

THIS & THAT: A Roundup of Favorite Articles and Quotes

  • A Reason to Be Vaccinated: Freedom. John Piper writes “My aim in this article is to encourage Christians to be vaccinated, if they can do so with a good conscience and judicious medical warrant.”
  • Why Your Employer Can Deny Your ‘Religious’ Vaccine Exemption. John Melcon writes “I’m not arguing Christians should be vaccinated, or that Christians should necessarily acquiesce to employer vaccine mandates. I’m only arguing Christians shouldn’t demand religious exemptions if they choose not to be vaccinated.”

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

  • More interesting article links
  • Favorite Quotes of the Week

Continue reading


1 Comment

FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

  • More links to interesting articles
  • The Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week
  • My Review of Mentoring 101: What Every Leader Needs to Know by John Maxwell
  • Snippets from the book Discipled Leader: Inspiration from a Fortune 500 Executive for Transforming Your Workplace by Pursuing Christ by Preston Poore

Continue reading


Leave a comment

MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

Almost Home: The Hymns of Matt Boswell and Matt Papa Volume 2
****

This is the second album of hymns from Matt Boswell and Matt Papa. Their first album, His Mercy is More: The Hymns of Matt Boswell and Matt Papa, was my favorite album of 2019. This new album may well end up being my favorite for 2021.
I was introduced to “the Matts” at the Getty Worship Sing! conferences in 2018.  Some of the songs on this album, all of which were written for congregational singing, were introduced at prior Sing! conferences. The album was produced by Ben Shive. Here is a short “Behind the Scenes” video about the album.
Below are a few comments about each song:
Psalm 150 (Praise the Lord) – This song was introduced at the 2020 Sing! conference and highlighted at the 2021 Sing! conference. It was written by Matt Boswell and Matt Papa. The song features piano, guitar, strings, drums, bass and backing vocals.
Key lyric:
Praise the Lord
Praise the Lord
Sing His greatness
All creation
Praise the Lord
Raise your voice
Your heights and all your depths
From furthest east to west
Let everything that has breath
Praise the Lord

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

  • More of this review and a review of Springtime In New York: The Bootleg Series Vol.16 1980-1985 by Bob Dylan
  • Music News
  • Song of the Week Lyrics ~ Save Me by Mat Kearney

Continue reading


Leave a comment

BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

Saved from What? by R.C. Sproul. Reformation Trust Publishing. 120 pages. 2021
****

I read this book when it was first published in 2002, and again recently when it was republished. As he did in all of his teaching, in this book Dr. Sproul takes difficult theological topics and presents them in a manner in which the average person in the pew can understand.
He tells us that the Bible uses the term salvation in many ways. The common thread that is found in the many uses is that, at root, salvation means rescue or deliverance from some calamity or catastrophe. The ultimate salvation that any human being can ever experience is rescue from the wrath that is to come. He goes on to say that he believes that the greatest point of unbelief in our culture and in our church today is an unbelief in the wrath of God and in His certain promise of judgment for the human race. What every human being needs to be saved from is God, and Jesus is the Savior who saves us from the wrath that

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review…
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ Providence by John Piper
I’M CURRENTLY READING…. Continue reading


Leave a comment

My Review of West Side Story

West Side Story, rated PG-13
*** ½

Sixty years after the original 1961 film, which won 10 Oscars, three-time Oscar winning Director Steven Spielberg (Saving Private Ryan, Schindler’s List), gives us a new version of the musical West Side Story. I never saw the original film, but recognized several songs (“America”, “Tonight”, “Maria”, “I Feel Pretty”), from my parents playing the soundtrack when I was young. The film, which was delayed a year due to COVID-19, is set in the late 1950’s, and shows two rival gangs – the white Jets and the Puerto Rican Sharks – battling for control of the streets in a decaying section of New York City.
The film was written by two-time Oscar nominee Tony Kushner (Lincoln, Munich), based on the book and 1957 musical by two-time Oscar nominee Arthur Laurents (The Turning Point). The music was composed by Oscar nominee Leonard Bernstein (On the Waterfront), and the lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, who died on November 26. Continue reading


Leave a comment

THIS & THAT: A Roundup of Favorite Articles and Quotes

  • 5 Pending Supreme Court Cases Christians Should Know About. Joe Carter writes “The U.S. Supreme Court’s fall term opens this week with a number of cases that are of interest to Christians. Here are five specific cases you should know about that deal with abortion or religious liberty.”

  • You Need Christ to Put Your Sin to Death. Dane Ortlund writes “Right now, every one of us who is in Christ is either killing sin or being killed by sin. Either getting stronger or getting weaker.”
  • 9 Wrong Ways to Read the Bible (And One Better Way). In this excerpt from his new book Deeper, Dane Ortlund writes “Perhaps it seems obvious that the Bible is good news. How else would we read it? Here are nine common but wrong ways to read the Bible”.
  • Men, Are You Submissive? Michael Kruger writes “Submission is not a female virtue; it’s a Christianvirtue”.
  • 9 Tips for Making the Most of Your Bible Study. Jen Wilkin writes “As you read the Bible devotionally, seek to complement this with time in which you also build a basic knowledge of Scripture. Here are some suggestions to help you make the most of that time.”

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

    • More interesting article links
    • Favorite Quotes of the Week

Continue reading