Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS


Skin and Wind – Charlie Peacock
****

I’ve appreciated Charlie Peacock’s music for many years, dating back to his late-night concerts at the Cornerstone Festival when it was held outside of the Chicago area, and his West Coast Diaries releases in the late 1980’s. The multi-talented (artist, producer, author) Peacock writes all of the songs on Skin and Wind, his fourteenth vocal album, and the follow-up to 2019’s Lil’ Willie. In addition, he produces the album, handles lead vocals, and plays multiple instruments (piano, Rhodes and Wurlitzer electric piano, drums, bass, acoustic and electric guitar and percussion). Backing him are son Sam Ashworth (acoustic guitar and background vocals), Ruby Amanfu (background vocals), Bridget Ashworth (background vocals), Jerry McPherson (electric and acoustic guitars and ukulele), Andy Leftwich (fiddle and mandolin) and Dan Dugmore (pedal and lap steel). The album cover is a 1986 photo of Peacock backstage at the Filmore Auditorium in San Francisco.
I thoroughly enjoyed this outstanding album, which features excellence in vocals (Peacock’s voice is still an incredible instrument), production, musicianship and poetical lyrics. Here are a few comments about each of the ten songs:

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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS


Just Jones: Sometimes a Thing Is Impossible . . . Until It Is Actually Done by Andy Andrews. Thomas Nelson. 272 pages. 2020
***

Just Jones is the third book in the Noticer trilogy, following 2009’s The Noticer and 2013’s The Noticer Returns. The books are partly non-fiction (Andy Andrews and his wife Polly are included, and the majority of the book takes place in Orange Beach, Alabama, where Andrews lives), and mostly fiction, revolving around a mysterious old man name Jones. Not Mr. Jones. Just Jones.
Jones is an interesting character. He shows up and disappears without notice. He can make things happen that are beyond belief. He is a noticer. He notices things that other people overlook, most of which are in plain sight. He notices things about situations and people that produce perspective, or a broader view. Throughout the book, Jones also shares his personal philosophies on a variety of subjects.
The book begins with a confusing “Prologue”, which is later made clear. We then meet 27-year-old Keely, who is in a Florida jail cell with Jones. Keely is in jail on a charge of drunk and disorderly, along with hitting a police officer. We never find out why Jones is in jail. Jones calls Andy to pick him up from jail. They haven’t seen each other for six or seven years.

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

One Last Shot Over the Left Field Wall. Andy Andrews writes a tribute to Hank Aaron, the home run king, who died January 22 at age 86. My favorite Hank Aaron memory took place at a 1965 game at Busch Stadium 1 (also known as Sportsman’s Park) in St. Louis. My Dad, Mom, brother Mike (age 6) and I (age 8) were attending the game between the Cardinals and the Milwaukee Braves. Cardinal pitcher Curt Simmons got Aaron out throughout the game with a big lollypop pitch. Aaron was frustrated, but ready for the pitch late in the game, and crushed the ball out of the park. But Aaron was so anxious to hit the pitch that he actually stepped out of the batter’s box and was called out. Read about it here.

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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

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  • The Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week
  • My Review of Work and Our Labor in the Lord by James M. Hamilton Jr
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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS


Until We Meet Again (Live Unplugged) – Mat Kearney
****

Until We Meet Again features songs from Kearney’s second acoustic tour, his winter 2020 Revisited tour. These songs were recorded in January and February, just before the COVID-19 shutdown. Many of the songs are from early in his career, with five of the eleven songs from his 2011 album Young Love and three from his 2009 album City of Black and White. Most of the songs, are about love and relationships, with other themes including encouragement and trust in God.
If you are not familiar with Kearney’s music, this would be an excellent project to check out. Below are a few brief comments about each song:
Fire and Rain – This song was written by Robert Marvin and Kearney and originally appeared on the 2009 album City of Black and White. They may not be together anymore, but his love for her will not fade. The song features acoustic guitar, drums, bass, and backing vocals.
Key lyric:
My love will not fade
Through the fire and rain

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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS


Meeting Jesus: The “I Am” Sayings of Jesus by R.C. Sproul. Banner of Truth. 88 pages. 2019 
***

In this short book – the only one authored by R.C. Sproul that has been published by Banner of Truth – Dr. Sproul looks at looks at eight “I am” sayings of Jesus recorded in the Gospel of John which reveal his true identity and teach us the truth about him. Those sayings are:

  • The Bread of Life
  • The Light of the World
  • The Door
  • The Good Shepherd
  • The Resurrection and the Life
  • The Way, the Truth and the Life
  • The True Vine
  • Before Abraham Was, ‘I Am”

This book reads like the content may have been originally delivered as sermons, or as a teaching series from Ligonier Ministries. Interestingly, there is no “Introduction” or information about the author, as you would normally find in a book.
Sproul, who died in 2017, was a spiritual mentor for me. In this book, he characteristically delivers solid theological teaching in an easy-to-understand manner. Below are ten of my favorite quotes from the book:

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BOOK CLUB ~ The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur
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THIS & THAT: A Weekly Roundup of Favorite Articles and Quotes

  • We Have a New President – A Christian Response. Scott Sauls writes “One of the chief ways we honor God is in the way we respond to those He places in authority over us. Whether we agree or disagree with our authorities, showing honor and respect is presented in the Bible as a non-negotiable. In showing honor and respect, we also honor and respect God, who, in His own wisdom and for His own purposes, ordains who will lead and who will follow.”
  • Could our Current Political and Cultural Chaos be Leading to a Spiritual Awakening? Philip Douglass, one of my favorite professors at Covenant Seminary, writes “Our politicians and cultural leaders will not alone solve the problems of our society any more than they were able to do so in years past. It will take another Awakening like the ones we experienced in the late 1940s and 1950s and again in the 1970s, except this renewal must be initiated and sustained by planting new churches.”
  • COVID Vaccines and Fetal Cells: What’s Ethical and What Isn’t? Randy Alcorn provides biblically relevant information and resources to examine related to the COVID-19 vaccines.

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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

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  • The Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week
  • My Review of The Carpenter: A Story About the Greatest Success Principles of All by Jon Gordon
  • Snippets from the book Work and Worship: Reconnecting Our Labor and Liturgy by Matthew Kaemingk and Cory B. Willson

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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

Out of Body – NEEDTOBREATHE
****

Out of Body is NEEDTOBREATHE’s seventh studio album, and first since 2016’s Hard Love. The album debuted at #1 on iTunes Top Albums chart. It is also the band’s first album as a trio – Bear Rinehart (lead vocals, guitar, piano, harmonica), Seth Bolt (backing vocals, bass, percussion), and Josh Lovelace (backing vocals, piano, organ), following the departure of founding member Bo Rinehart. The album was recorded in Nashville with producers Cason Cooley and Jeremy Lutito. Five of the eleven songs were released in advance of the full album release.
The band has said that the album is about their journey toward their true selves. This is a strong album, one of my favorites of 2020. As you would expect, the lyrics are vulnerable, and the musicianship and production are excellent. Below are a few comments about each song:

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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

The Nazarene: Forty Devotions on the Lyrical Life of Jesus by Michael Card. IVP. 168 pages. 2020
****    

It is hard to measure the impact of Michael Card in my life through his music, writing and teaching since first being introduced to his music via his 1984 Known by the Scars album when I was still a relatively new believer. A special highlight for me was our church being blessed to host him for two of his Biblical Imagination conferences/concerts several years ago, and my wife and I travelling to Ohio for another.
This new book is divided into four parts, with one part for each of the four Gospels, with ten devotions included in each part. Each devotion begins with a scripture passage(s) that the devotion aligns with, as well as the lyrics from one of Card’s songs from his Biblical Imagination series albums. Each devotion concludes with a key lyric from the song that Card comments on.
As you approach the book, you can choose to simply read the song lyrics, or as I did, listen to the song. You can also choose to read one devotional each day, or read several at a time, as they are relatively short. Listening to the songs and following along with the lyrics gave me a new appreciation for the skill in which Card brings scripture into his song lyrics. This is something that I have for too long taken for granted.

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BOOK CLUB ~ The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur
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