Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS


Pray Big: Learn to Pray Like an Apostle by Alistair Begg. The Good Book Company. 112 pages. 2019
****

The author, a respected pastor, writes that he wants to pray bigger, and better, and he wants his readers to enjoy praying like that too. To do that, we need to discover how to pray as the Apostle Paul did, which means we need to learn to believe what Paul did. Paul was a man who knew to whom he was praying. The author focuses on Paul’s prayers for his friends in the church in Ephesus, which he recounts to them in Ephesians 1: 15-23 and 3: 14-21. Paul wrote the letter to the Ephesians from prison. The truths that underpin and shape Paul’s prayers will motivate us to pray, and they will help us know what to say.
To pray is an admission and an expression of dependence. Real prayer is from a dependent person to a divine Person. Our conversation with others declares what is on our minds, but our conversation with God in private reveals what is in our hearts. Prayer reminds us who we are, and who our Father is. We come to a loving Father, but we do not come as his equal. The author mentions a few times that all that matters may be brought before God, but what we bring before God is not always what matters most.
The book is organized around five great qualities for which Paul prays for his Ephesian brothers and sisters.  They are:

  • Pray for Focus
  • Pray for Hope
  • Pray for Riches
  • Pray for Power
  • Pray for Love

The author asks how might our prayer life be transformed if we used the headings of this book to shape our prayers.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review…and reviews of
 ~ Saving the Reformation: The Pastoral Theology of the Canons of Dort by W. Robert Godfrey
 ~ Sanctification: God’s Passion for His People by John MacArthur
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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My Review of I STILL BELIEVE

I Still Believe
** ½

I Still Believe, new on home video, is based on the true story of Contemporary Christian Music artist Jeremy Camp’s relationship with Melissa Henning. It is a story of sacrificial love, disappointment, suffering, loss and hope. The film was directed by the Erwin Brothers, Andrew and Jon (I Can Only Imagine, Mom’s Night Out, October Baby). The film was written by Jon Erwin and Jon Gunn (The Case for Christ).
The film opens at the Camp home in Lafayette, Indiana. Jeremy, played by K.J. Apa (Riverdale) is getting ready to leave for college, leaving behind his parents Tom, a pastor who drives a Pizza King car played by Oscar nominee Gary Sinese (Forrest Gump), and Terry, played by country music artist Shania Twain and his two younger brothers. They give him a beautiful new guitar just before he boards the bus for his California college.
On Jeremy’s first night on campus he attends a concert by Jean-Luc, played by Nathan Parsons (General Hospital). Jeremy sneaks backstage before the concert and introduces himself to the artist, and asks him for advice on how to “make it” in the music industry. This leads Jean-Luc to ask him to tune his guitar. That night, when bringing a guitar on stage, Jeremy sees Melissa Henning, played by Britt Robertson (TomorrowlandThe Space Between Us) in the audience. He seeks her out after the show. Continue reading


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My Review of THE WAY BACK

The Way Back, rated R
** ½

The Way Back is about a former star athlete returning to his high school to coach the basketball team. The film, featuring a strong performance from Ben Affleck, deals with serious themes and contains a significant amount of adult language. The film is directed by Gavin O’Connor (The Accountant), and written by Brad Ingelsby (Out of the Furnace).
Jack Cunningham, played by two-time Oscar winner Ben Affleck (Good Will Hunting, Argo), works on a construction site. He pours alcohol into his coffee mug on the site and stops at a bar on the way home each night. His sister Beth, played by Michaela Watkins, is concerned with his drinking as we see him being often helped home by the same old man who used to carry his father home drunk from the same bar.
Jack was once a star basketball player at Bishop Hayes, leading his team to the state championship and being named player of the year 1993-1995. But he turned down a college scholarship, and hasn’t touched a basketball since.
Out of the blue, Jack gets a call from Father Edward Devine, played by John Aylward, the head priest at his alma mater. The basketball coach has had a heart attack, and will not be returning. Father Devine asks Jack if he would take over as the coach of a team that is quite frankly not very good. In fact, the last time the team made the playoffs was 25 years ago, when Jack was playing. Jack’s immediate response is to turn the priest down, but Father Devine asks him to think about it, and let him know in the morning as the team has a game in a few days. On a painful night to watch, we see Jack drink a 12 pack of beer as he repeatedly rehearses his call to Father Devine, but then surprisingly he accepts the position. Continue reading


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THIS & THAT: A Weekly Roundup of Favorite Articles, Cartoon, & Quotes

  • Coronavirus and Christ. Here are some resources on the Coronavirus from John Piper and Desiring God.
  • 4 Principles to Remember When Talking to Your Children about Coronavirus. Brad Hambrick offers these helpful thoughts on how to talk to your children about the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The Coronavirus is a Result of the Fall. Kevin DeYoung writes “The coronavirus is a natural evil, under God’s providential control to be sure, but whose existence is the result of original sin. The root of all human pain and suffering in the world is the rebellion of our first parents—a rebellion that Christ conquered on the cross and will one day wipe away, along with all its sad and sinister effects.”
  • God Doesn’t Want Us to Sacrifice the Old. Russell Moore writes “This pandemic will change us, change our economy, our culture, our priorities, our personal lives. That we cannot avoid. But let’s remember: One day we will tell our grandchildren how we lived, how we loved, during the Great Pandemic. Let’s respect human life in such a way that we will not be ashamed to tell them the truth.”
  • Peace in a Pandemic. Listen to this sermon from David Platt from Proverbs 12:25 and Matthew 6:25-34.

Things to Do While Forced to Stay at Home

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  • More interesting article links
  • Cartoon of the Week
  • Favorite Quotes of the Week

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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

  • Working Remotely for the Glory of God. Joe Holland writes “Without question, workspaces around the globe will be forever changed by this virus. But it doesn’t have to be for ill.”
  • A Prayer for Working from Home. Will Sorrell offers this helpful and timely prayer for those suddenly having to work from home.
  • Understanding How Men and Women Approach Family Life and Work. Courtney Reissig writes “As a Christian, there are overarching principles that can help us in understanding our fellow brothers and sisters as they work and parent. These principles may also help us as we live in community with one another in our local churches, allowing for freedom and nuance regarding our work and family life balance.”
  • Are You an Ideal Team Player? Patrick Lencioni thinks it is time to change the way we prepare people for success. Drawing from his book, The Ideal Team Player, Lencioni makes the compelling case that the key to success in an increasingly team-oriented world is being humble, hungry and smart. Whether you’re a CEO or a 7th grader, focusing on these deceptively simple virtues can radically improve your personal and professional effectiveness and fulfillment.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

  • More links to interesting articles
  • The Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week
  • My Review of
    • The Motive: Why So Many Leaders Abdicate Their Most Important Responsibilities by Patrick Lencioni
    • Lead Like Jesus: Lessons from the Greatest Leadership Role Model of All Time by Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges
  • Snippets from Os Guinness’ book “The Call: Finding and Fulfilling God’s Purpose For Your Life”

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My Review of EMMA.

EMMA., rated PG
** ½

EMMA., newly available on home video, is the latest film adaptation of the last novel published by Jane Austen during her lifetime. Set in England in the 1800’s, the film features beautiful costumes, beautiful scenery, good production design and solid acting, but the two-hour film moves slowly, and doesn’t get interesting until the final thirty minutes. The film is directed by Autumn de Wilde in his feature film debut, and the screenplay is written by Eleanor Catton. Emma Woodhouse is played by Anya Taylor-Joy (Glass, Split). She lives with her wealthy father, played by Golden Globe winner Bill Nighy (Gideon’s Daughter, Love Actually, Pirates of the Caribbean), on a giant estate in the English countryside. Her lifelong friend George Knightly, played by Johnny Flynn, lives across a field and comes by the estate frequently. George knows Emma well, and is one of the only people in her life that can honestly speak to the selfish, arrogant and at times rude young woman. Emma doesn’t have much that she has to do, so she has taken to matchmaking, specifically with Harriet Smith, an orphaned girl of unknown parentage, living at a local girl’s school, played by Mia Goth. Harriet has taken a liking to Mr. Martin, a widowed farmer, played by Connor Swindells. Emma believes that Harriet can do better, and Harriet trusts her, so Emma convinces Harriet to turn down Mr. Martin’s proposal and instead tries to match her up with the local vicar, the unlikeable Mr. Elton, played by Josh O’Connor (The Crown). Continue reading


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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS


New Life in Christ: What Really Happens When You’re Born Again and Why It Matters by Steven Lawson. Baker Books. 224 pages. 2020
****

In this book, pastor Steven Lawson considers the new birth by looking at Jesus’s well-known encounter nighttime encounter with Nicodemus in John 3. I have seen the author preach on numerous occasions, and as Sinclair Ferguson writes in the “Foreword”, you may, as I did, hear his voice preaching as you read this book, which reads like one of his preaching series, and is a nice companion to his Ligonier Ministries teaching series The New Birth.
What does it mean to be born again? The author tells us that being born again means that God implants divine life within our spiritually dead heart. He tells us that there are two sides of the entrance into the kingdom of God. On one side is the person’s activity. The other side involves God’s activity. God must cause a person to be born again, which, in turn, produces saving faith. It is the new birth that enables us to receive Jesus Christ into our life. Similarly, R.C. Sproul would often say that “regeneration proceeds faith”.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review… and reviews of
~ Making a Difference: Impacting Culture and Society as a Christian by R.C. Sproul and
~ I Still Believe: A Memoir of Wreckage, Recovery, and Relentless Love. Russ and Tori Taff with Mark Smeby
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur
I’M CURRENTLY READING…. Continue reading