Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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My Review of THE CALL OF THE WILD

The Call of the Wild, rated PG
***

The Call of the Wild is a well-made, family friendly film (for ages 8 and above), is written by Oscar nominee Michael Green (Logan) and based on Jack London’s classic 1903 novel. The film is directed by three-time Oscar nominee Chris Sanders (How to Train Your Dragon, The Croods, Lilo & Stitch), and is the first live action film he has directed.  The film is narrated by Oscar nominee Harrison Ford (Witness, Indiana Jones and Star Wars films), who also plays John Thornton.  The film is set during the 1890’s Klondike Gold Rush.
Buck is a cross between a St. Bernard and a Scotch Shepherd, the same mixed breed as was in London’s book. He lives in a northern California community, where he is the spoiled pet on the farm of Judge Miller, played by three-time Golden Globe nominee Bradley Whitford (The West Wing). But Buck’s life changes when he is captured and taken to the Yukon during the Klondike gold rush, where sled dogs are needed. Continue reading


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

  • Should Followers of Christ Use Recreational Marijuana? Kevin J. Vanhoozer writes “Good stewardship applies not only to work, but also to the way we relax. Using weed is not the way to redeem the recreational times.”
  • My Life is Endless Drudgery – How Do I Find Joy in Christ? In this episode of the Ask Pastor John podcast, John Piper responds to the question “It just feels like no matter how hard I try or how much I do, I’m barely getting it all done. I hate that I sometimes resent my kids and wife and this life. Now the middle-age years have arrived and I fear burnout, even of running away. Can you help me?”
  • Why Doesn’t God Always Heal? In this episode of the Gospel Coalition podcast, Albert Mohler and Bryan Chapell share their response to a common question they’ve heard throughout their decades in ministry about why God answers certain prayers for healing in this life, but not all.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

    • 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

  • 6 Questions to Ask About Working After Retirement. Jeff Haanen shares six questions to ask – and choices to make – as you make a plan to work after retirement.
  • Called to Write – Helping Others Walk in God’s Presence. Russell Gehrlein discusses his calling as a writer.
  • 4 Ways to Set Effective Goals in 2020. Eric Geiger writes “Here are four ways to ensure you are setting the best goals. Set goals for your whole life, in community, with a plan, and ultimately with a focus on the greater goal.”
  • How to Fight Envy in the Workplace. Gage Arnold responds to the question “How can I know if I just need to settle down and be content, or if I’m in the wrong job and should be looking for something where I can be brilliant?”
  • Making Wise Career Choices in 2020. Matt Perman suggests three things to help us make wise career choices, even if we don’t know what we are passionate about.
  • IFWE’s Top Ten Blogs of 2019. Kristin Brown shares 2019’s top ten blog posts from the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics (IFWE), which includes “Trusting God in New Job Assignments” from our friend Russell Gehrlein.
  • Podcast: Help! I Hate My Job. In this episode of the Crossway Podcast, Jim Hamilton, author of Work and Our Labor in the Lord, joins Matt Tully and discusses what to do when you hate your job. He offers encouragement for those frustrated in their work, reflects on God’s original intention for work at creation, and explains the difference between a job and a vocation.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

    • More links to interesting articles
    • The Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week
    • My Review of Taking God to Work: The Keys to Ultimate Success by Steve Reynolds and David L. Winters
    • Snippets from Os Guinness’ book “The Call: Finding and Fulfilling God’s Purpose For Your Life”

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My Review of JUDY

Judy, rated PG-13
** ½ 

Judy tells the story of singer Judy Garland as portrayed by Renee Zellweger, who recently won the Oscar for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role. The film was directed by Rupert Goold. The screenplay was written by Tom Edge (The Crown), based on the stage play End of the Rainbow by Peter Quilter. Jeremy Woodhead (Stan & Ollie, Doctor Strange), received an Oscar nomination for Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling.
The film does not look at Garland’s entire life, but instead chooses to tell her tragic lifestory story in two places, bookending her short life (she died at age 47). First, we see her in 1939, at the beginning of her career, (the young Judy is played by Darci Shaw), filming the classic The Wizard of Oz, in which she starred as Dorothy. Judy worked up to 18 hours a day, was not allowed to eat much and was given diet pills to maintain her weight, as well as pills to stay awake and to fall asleep. She is controlled, threatened and verbally abused by MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer, played by Richard Cordery (The Wife).
The film then takes us to the last year of her life, eventually leading to Garland, played by two-time Oscar winner Zellweger (Judy, Cold Mountain), performing five weeks of sold out concerts at the “Talk of the Town” nightclub in London in the winter of 1968. Continue reading


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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

United – Newsboys (Deluxe Edition)
****

In the spring of 2018, former Newsboys lead singer Peter Furler and former bassist Phil Joel joined the then current Newsboy lineup of Michael Tait, Duncan Phillips, Jeff Frankenstein and Jody Davis for a Newsboys reunion tour. Since then the Newsboys United have played more than 150 concerts. As a result, this new studio album has been highly anticipated. And the album, which is comprised of praise and worship songs, does not disappoint. The album, co-produced by Furler and Duncan Sparks and featuring a number of different writers, has a clean and energetic sound, as it merges the former members and current members together for a satisfying result.

Below are a few comments about each song:

Greatness of Our God – This worship song about the greatness of God, was written by Bryan Fowler, Colby Wedgeworth and Ethan Hulse. This was the first song released from the album. Furler and Tait share lead vocals on an excellent opening song.

Symphony – This song was written by Bryan Fowler, Colby Wedgeworth and Ethan Hulse. The voices of Furler and Tait blend well on this prayer, and Phillips’ drums particularly stand out.

Key lyrics:
So, let my life be, let my life be
A symphony, a symphony
Every breath that I breathe
Lord I wanna bring You glory, glory


Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
 More of this review and a review of
~ Believe by Russ Taff
 Music News
 Song of the Week Lyrics
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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS


To Seek and to Save: Daily Reflections on the Road to the Cross by Sinclair Ferguson. The Good Book Company. 162 pages. 2020 
****

This book, by one of our most respected theologians, will remind readers of his excellent 2018 Advent devotional Love Came Down at Christmas: Daily Readings for Advent. In that book, the author took readers through 1 Corinthians 13. In this new book, he takes us through Luke’s Gospel, beginning with chapter 9, verse 51, in which Luke records all the events in Jesus’ life in the form of a journey to Jerusalem. This travelogue eventually brings us to Calvary and to the empty tomb. In his travelogue, Luke describes Jesus’ encounters with a wide variety of individuals and groups of people. The author tells us that there was something they all had in common: they were either drawn to him in their need, or repelled from him by their pride. No one was neutral.
In this series of short reflections for Lent, the author lets us listen in on most of these conversations. Each encounter will build up a picture of the journey’s real purpose; for, as he tells one man he meets along the way, Jesus is “the Son of Man [who] came to seek and to save the lost” (19:10). The key issues for all of those who encounter Jesus in Luke’s Gospel are these:

  • Do they know why he is on the road in the first place?
  • Will they follow him as his disciple?

The author tells us that this Lent, Jesus asks those same questions of us.
These readings will fit nicely in with your daily devotional readings. They will be equally helpful in preparing your heart for the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus, or really at any other time. If you choose to use it for the former, you will start the readings on “Ash Wednesday”, which falls on February 26 in 2020. After each reading is a “Reflect” section with questions, and a time to “Respond” to what you have read.
I recommend this book for your personal or family devotional reading.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review… and reviews of
~ The Seamless Life: A Tapestry of Love & Learning, Worship and Work by Steven Garber
~ The Missionary Fellowship of William Carey by Michael A.G. Haykin
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur
I’M CURRENTLY READING….

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My Review of JOKER

Joker, rated R
**  (2 out of 4 stars)

My wife Tammy and I have been watching Oscar nominated “Best Motion Picture” films that we had not already seen. We have watched The Irishman, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Marriage Story, Parasite, and most recently Joker, which received eleven Oscar nominations, the most of any film this year.
Joker is a very disturbing film about the beginnings of the character that will become an enemy of Batman. The film is superbly acted by four-time Oscar nominee Joaquin Phoenix, who has received a “Best Actor” nomination for his role as Arthur Fleck. But the film has significant content issues, including adult language and violence, and thus is hard to recommend.
The film is directed by four-time Oscar nominee Tom Phillips (Joker, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan). It is written by Phillips and two-time Oscar nominee Scott Silver (Joker, The Fighter). The film, which had a budget of approximately $55 million, has grossed more than $335 million in the U.S., and more than $1 billion worldwide. It is the first “R”-rated film to gross a billion dollars. Continue reading