Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS


Live in Denver – TobyMac
*** ½

TobyMac, who is currently charting with his single “Help Is On The Way (Maybe Midnight)” has released a new live album Live in Denver.  The project features 15 songs from his Hits Deep early 2020 Tour, and includes collaborations with Terrian, Aaron Cole, Cochren & Co. and Ryan Stevenson. This follows his 2016 live album Hits Deep Live. Live in Denver is currently only available in a digital format. A CD/DVD version will be released September 10.
The track list focuses heavily on later career songs, including “21 Years”, the 2020 song he wrote after son Truett died, 8 from 2018’s The Elements, 3 from 2015’s This is Not a Test, and 2 from 2012’s Eye on It. He also includes “Lose My Soul” from Portable Sounds.
The complete track list and the album the song was originally on, is below:

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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

Brave by Faith: God-Sized Confidence in a Post-Christian World by Alistair Begg. The Good Book Company. 98 pages. 2021
****

Pastor and author Alistair Begg tells us that secularism pushes back again and again against what the Bible says about sexual ethics, about salvation, about education, about the role and reach of the state, and about matters of public welfare. Public opinion has turned against Christians in America. Christians are suddenly a minority group within an increasingly secularized nation. We are finding out how it feels to be outsiders, and we don’t like it.
He tells us that the message of the book of Daniel is incredibly relevant for us in our generation. The message of Daniel is this: don’t be discouraged. You have not reached home. This isn’t it. And Jesus shall reign.
Begg uses the familiar first seven chapters of the book of Daniel to teach American Christians what it looks like to live as a Christian in a society that does not like what Christians believe, what we say, and how we live. He writes that we will be able to navigate our present moment to the extent that we realize that the God of the exiles in the sixth century BC has not changed in the intervening two and a half millennia. God is powerful, and God is sovereign, and even in the face of circumstances that appear to be prevailing against his people, we may trust him entirely.

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THIS & THAT: A Roundup of Favorite Articles and Quotes

  • 5 Foundations That Lead to Compromise on Sexual Ethics. Brett McCracken writes “In the landscape of contemporary Western Christianity, most roads away from orthodox faith travel through an increasingly populous pit stop called “LGBTQ+ affirming.” It’s a stop that doesn’t just change the route; it reconfigures the whole map.”
  • Identity Politics and the Death of Christian Unity. Jonathan Leeman spoke on this topic at the 2020 Together for the Gospel Conference. Watch his breakout session. You can also follow along with his outline, or read his manuscript.
  • Dogma Drives the Christian Life. Carl Trueman writes “One thing, though, is certain: The days when Christians could be both respected by their society and faithful to their beliefs are drawing rapidly to a close.”
  • Netflix’s ‘Pray Away’ Seethes with Contempt for Christianity. Becket Cook writes “Netflix’s latest original documentary, Pray Away—about the reparative therapy organization Exodus International—is yet another thinly veiled attack on Christianity by Hollywood.”
  • The FAQs: What You Should Know About COVID Variants. Joe Carter writes “New variants of COVID are leading to some of the worst outbreaks since the start of the pandemic. Countries in Southeast Asia are seeing rapid rises in case numbers and deaths. The Delta variant is also causing outbreaks throughout the United States, especially in states such as Arkansas, Missouri, and Nevada, which have low vaccination rates.”

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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

  • Arrogance in the Workplace is Serious Business. John Kyle writes “The good news is that the Holy Spirit is ever-present in our lives. He teaches and guides us through God’s Word and enables us to see things in ourselves that we can’t see on our own.”
  • How to Receive Criticism with Grace. Scott Sauls writes “Because everyone is flawed, everyone can also expectcriticism from time to time. But these days, a carefully timed, well-placed call-out can have the outsized effect of “canceling” someone socially, culturally, professionally, denominationally, or otherwise.”
  • How Can I Stop Sexual Harassment Before It Starts? Charlie Self responds to the question “My secular workplace has detailed policies on how to address sexual harassment when it happens, but as a manager, I’d rather stop it before it begins. Do you have any advice on how I might do that?”
  • Peace of Mind in a Rapidly Changing World. Joshua Nangle writes “If he called you, he will sustain you to the end because, ultimately, your life is not about you. It is about him, and what he starts, he finishes.”

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  • The Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week
  • My Review of The Multi-Directional Leader: Responding Wisely to Challenges from Every Side by Trevin Wax
  • 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


Canyon – Ellie Holcomb
**** 

I first heard Ellie Holcomb on the song “Elizabeth”, a song she wrote with Kristyn Getty and included on the 2017 album Sing! – An Irish Christmas: Live at the Grand Ole Opry House. Watch a live performance of the song here.
I was attracted to this album by a tweet from NEEDTOBREATHE indicating that lead singer Bear Rinehart had teamed up with Holcomb for “Sweet Ever After”. I’m glad I checked out the album, as it’s one of my favorites of 2021.
The album was inspired by a trip Holcomb took to the Grand Canyon last summer. She has said that the songs, born out of a season of a lot of personal and global (COVID-19, racial tension, tornado, etc.) loss, feel like a soundtrack to healing and hope.  Canyon, produced by Cason Colley, is Holcomb’s follow-up to her 2017 Red Sea Road album. She wrote or co-wrote all of the songs. Her father, Christian music veteran Brown Bannister served as executive producer.
Here are a few brief comments about each song:

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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

Knowing God and Ourselves: Reading Calvin’s Institutes Devotionally by David B. Calhoun. Banner of Truth. 360 pages. 2016
****
I enjoyed two wonderful church history classes with Dr. Calhoun, who recently went home to be with the Lord, at the beginning of my time at Covenant Seminary.  For twenty-five years he taught a course on Calvin’s Institutes at Covenant Seminary. The Institutes of the Christian Religion is a manual, a book of basic instruction in the Christian religion. It is a book about Christian piety, about Christian discipleship, about loving and serving God.
The goal of the book is to help students, especially beginning students of Calvin’s Institutes to better understand what they are reading and to encourage them to persist in working through that important, but challenging book. Overall, Dr. Calhoun’s goal is to help the reader understand Calvin. Each chapter begins with the pages in the Institutes to read, a scripture text, a notable quote and a prayer. Each chapter ends “Knowing God and Ourselves”, a short application and meditation on Calvin’s content. Dr. Calhoun tells us that reading the Institutes devotionally is not merely one way of reading Calvin’s book, it is the only way to read it. Calvin intended his book to be a guide and a theological companion to the Bible.

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THIS & THAT: A Roundup of Favorite Articles and Quotes

  • Call it Racism, Not “White Supremacy”. Samuel D. James writes “All variables equal, I think it’s a mistake for Christian social justice advocates to adopt the mainstream practice of talking about “white supremacy” and “whiteness” instead of sticking with “racism.””
  • 9 Things You Should Know About Mainline Protestantism. Joe Carter writes “Who exactly are mainline Protestants? Here is what you should know about the faith tradition that once dominated the American religious landscape.”

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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

  • Should I Take a New Job If It Requires Moving? Charlie Self responds to the question “I may have an opportunity to take a new job and a significant promotion. But it would mean that we (wife, 4-year-old, 2-year-old, and me) would have to move about 1,000 miles from our extended families for no less than two to three years. Further, we love our church and our small group, and it’s very challenging to think about joining a new congregation and building new relationships. However, I think I can see God’s fingerprints all over the path that led us to this opportunity. How do we discern wisdom in this situation? How should we be praying? How do we know when to go, or stay, in faith?”
  • How Should I Respond to a Colleague’s Same-Sex Wedding? Charlie Self responds to the question “Two male co-workers are getting married. My boss took up a collection for a gift (which I didn’t contribute to), and now she keeps passing the congratulatory card with an eye in my direction. I’m not going to sign, but I don’t know what to say. “I object on religious grounds” is classified as harassment according to our recent team training.”
  • Am I Taking on Too Much? Casey Shutt responds to the question “My family tells me I have a hard time discerning the difference between meeting the needs of others when I encounter them, versus taking on more than I can handle. I want to be a person who serves generously but knows when I’m taking on too much (and thus trying to be godlike). How do I know when I’m straying too far toward one side or the other?”

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  • The Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week
  • My Review of The Servant Leader by Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges
  • 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

Sing! Global: Live at the Getty Music Conference – Keith and Kristyn Getty and Friends
****

The latest album from Keith and Kristyn Getty’s Sing! Getty Music Conferences was recorded live at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville and around the world. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the conference was held online, rather than live in Nashville as in past years. The nineteen tracks feature a mix of new and old songs, and artists including Keith and Kristyn Getty, Matt Boswell, Matt Papa, CityAlight, Steven Curtis Chapman, Shane & Shane, Matt Redman, Sandra McCracken and others. I most enjoyed the new songs “Christ Our Hope in Life and Death”, “Lovingkindness”, “Psalm 150”, “The Everlasting Love of God”, “Christ the True and Better” as well as Sandra McCracken’s “We Will Feast in the House of Zion”, featuring H.B. Charles Jr.
Below are a few comments about each song:

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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

Fault Lines: The Social Justice Movement and Evangelicalism’s Looming Catastrophe by Voddie Baucham. Salem Books. 271 pages. 2021
****

This book about Critical Social Justice (CSJ), by a respected pastor, is a book that I recommend all Christians read. Better yet, read and discuss it with others as I did. It’s the most important, and one of the best, books I’ve read so far this year.
Baucham begins by defining some of the important subjects of the book. He tells us that Critical Theory is not just an analytical tool, as some have suggested; it is a philosophy, a worldview. Critical Race Theory (CRT), is a subject that is in the news a lot lately, as we see parents at school board meetings, angry that their children are being taught CRT. CRT recognizes that racism is engrained in the fabric and system of the American society. Intersectionality is about the multiple layers of oppression minorities suffer.
Baucham tells us that a fault line has been quietly forming underneath our feet for a long time around the area of social justice, and the Church must be awake and aware of what it means and where it comes from. Otherwise, we will fall victim to it—as many leading Christian voices – many (individuals and organizations) which he names in the book – already have. He chose the fault line metaphor because he believes it not only describes the catastrophe, but also the aftermath. He tells us that the current moment is akin to two people standing on either side of a major fault line just before it shifts. When the shift comes, the ground will open up, a divide that was once invisible will become visible, and the two will find themselves on opposite sides of it. That is what is happening in our day. He wrote the book to clearly identify the two sides of the fault line and to urge the reader to choose wisely. He would like to say that the book is meant to help us avoid the impending catastrophe, but it is not. He believes the catastrophe is unavoidable. The ground is already shaking. Relationships are being ruined, reputations are being tarnished, careers are being destroyed, and entire denominations are in danger of being derailed. He writes that if we are to survive this catastrophe however, we must understand it. We must understand what the fault lines are. We must also know where they lie.

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