Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


Leave a comment

MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

Worship Forever – Michael W. Smith
***

Michael W. Smith’s best-selling album is Worship, which was released on September 11, 2001, the day our nation was attacked. As a way to honor the tragic September 11 anniversary, Smith has released a reimagined version of the album. Worship Forever was recorded in front of a live audience in Nashville in July with a full symphony orchestra, choir and guest appearances by Amy Grant, Matt Redman, and Tauren Wells.
Smith adds a few newer songs to the track list including “Surrounded/Waymaker” and the new studio recording, the piano and orchestra driven “Sing Again.” Below is the chorus for “Sing Again”:

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

  • More of this review
  • Music News
  • Song of the Week Lyrics:  Send Out Your Light by Sandra McCracken

Continue reading


Leave a comment

BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

R.C. Sproul: Defender of the Reformed Faith by Nate Pickowicz. H&E Publishing. 140 pages. 2022 
****

In this warmly written and concise biography of R.C. Sproul, pastor and author Nate Pickowicz shares an appreciation that many of us have for the life and ministry of R.C. Sproul, who went home to be with the Lord in December, 2017. He writes that Sproul’s five decades of ministry loosely reflected the five solas of the Reformation.
The author focuses primarily on Sproul’s public ministry, quoting liberally from Sproul’s books and on his defense of the faith. Each chapter begins with a quote from Sproul.
The author’s fast-moving biography tells us that Sproul knew at 13 years of age that he would marry Vesta Voorhis. They would marry in 1960. He writes of Sproul’s father’s multiple strokes and death, telling us that it would be his father’s suffering that would drive him into the arms of the Suffering Savior, writing about his conversion in his dormitory room in 1957.

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

THIS & THAT: A Roundup of Favorite Articles and Quotes

  • As We Exalt God, We Edify One Another. Matt Merker writes “Exaltation is the vertical dimension of our corporate response to God’s initiating grace. Edification is the horizontal dimension. Both take place at the same time. As we exalt God, we edify one another.”
  • Christians Volunteering Pronouns? Andrew Walker writes “In the transgender debate, Christians must be vigilant to avoid using language that serves falsehood. We should not allow our language to be drafted into a cause that is fundamentally false on the one hand, and positively harmful on the other.”
  • What Should We Remember in Trials? In this short video, Derek Thomas provides encouragement for Christians who are enduring suffering.
  • Songs of Suffering: A Short Film Featuring Joni Eareckson Tada. No one has spoken more personally and insightfully into the intersection of suffering and faith than Joni Eareckson Tada. In this 13-minute documentary, hear more from Joni herself about her story, how she reacted when she learned 55 years ago that she would never walk again, and what she does to find the heartbeat of Christ within her daily struggle with chronic pain and quadriplegia.
  • 10 Free Tools for Prayer. Kevin Halloran writes “Here are ten of the best free prayer tools from the gracious hand of God. They are all simple but profoundly helpful and effective at seeking God’s face.”

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

  • How Do I Prioritize My Busy Life? On this episode of the Ask Pastor John podcast, John Piper responds to a question that reads in part “How do I balance the importance of working hard for the Lord, while still having enough time for God, spiritual growth, and my family, when my job won’t allow it? Should I accept that I will have to sacrifice much for my work, consider a career change, or do something in between?”
  • How Can the Average Christian Serve the Lord? For Christians who aren’t ordained ministers, what does it look like to serve the Lord? From one of Ligonier’s live events, Stephen Nichols and Robert Godfrey address the biblical and Reformation doctrine of vocation.
  • What Does Loving God Have to Do With Your Job? Steve Lindsey cites four reasons why the comprehensive command to live in wholehearted devotion to God and love for your neighbor on a consistent daily basis throughout your life is not only possible, but is, in fact, achieved mostly through your work.
  • How Can I Move Past a Disagreement with a Colleague? Russ Gehrlein writes “I was asked to reflect on a difficult situation at work. Although it may have been hypothetical, I gave it some thought. The individual asking had a pretty stressful few months as he or she had a sharp dispute with a coworker. They both apologized for the way it was handled at the time, but ever since, it has been difficult to move on. It is still awkward to be around each other as the issue was never truly resolved. He or she was wondering how to approach this situation in a such a way that it would bring glory to God and would be in line with the gospel message of Jesus Christ.”

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

  • More links to interesting articles
  • The Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week
  • My Review of Grace at Work: Redeeming the Grind & The Glory of Your Job by Bryan Chapell
  • Quotes from the book You’re Only Human: How Your Limits Reflect God’s Design and Why That’s Good News by Kelly Kapic

Continue reading


Leave a comment

My Review of BREAKING

Breaking, rated PG-13
***

Breaking is an intense film based on true events that took place in 2017 about a veteran, who feeling that he is out of options and at his breaking point, goes to a Wells Fargo bank in Atlanta with a bomb. The film features a solid cast and a powerful acting performance by John Boyega (Star Wars films), who portrays Brian Brown-Easley.
The film was written and directed by Abi Damaris Corbin and co-written by Kwame Kwei-Armah. It is based on the 2018 article “They Didn’t Have to Kill Him” by Aaron Gell.
Brian Brown-Easley is an honorably discharged Marine veteran who has fallen on tough times. He is living in a cheap motel and separated from his wife, but stays in touch with his young daughter when he has enough money to buy minutes for his phone. We don’t know what has led him to this situation, but it appears he is suffering from PTSD, and does not have money for the medicine he needs. Continue reading


Leave a comment

The Babylon Bee Guide to Democracy by The Babylon Bee


The Babylon Bee Guide to Democracy by The Babylon Bee. Salem Books. 256 pages. 2022
#guidetodemocracy
****

The latest of The Babylon Bee Guides is The Babylon Bee Guide to Democracy. It is a hilarious look at all aspects of our democracy, from the founding of our nation to how our money is spent by the government. The book is essentially a graphic novel that had me laughing all the way through it. It is dedicated to “the one true president Donald J. Trump, long may he reign”.
The book begins by looking at some of the different forms of government used throughout history and the origin story of our democracy (technically a constitutional republic). According to historical fact, in answer to a prayer from George Washington in the late 1700’s, God handed down his chosen form of government: DEMOCRACY.
The book then humorously looks at how democracy works by reviewing the branches of the government, including the Corporate Branch, which writes the laws and hands them off to Congress for a quick sign-off. We are told that every branch is sacred and worthy of our respect.

The book then turns to the centerpiece of democracy – elections – and how to participate in them to make sure our votes are counted. For example, if you are a Calvinist, blindfold yourself and vote for random people to place it all in God’s hands.
We read of George Washington’s foundations (he was a child named Kirin-El sent to Earth from a doomed planet in another galaxy to Mary and Augustine Washington), the “completely true” story of the Revolutionary War and a closer look at the Founding Fathers. For example, John Hancock was the inventor of the signature and cousin to Herbie.
We read that there is nothing so important in our identity as our political party. It is the most significant thing about us, and we are given a flowchart to help us determine what party we are.
The book does a deep-dive on the legislative, executive, judicial, and corporate branches of government, and provides a handy list of your constitutional rights (including some “lesser-known” rights).
We are told that experts have found that every election that we participate in is the most important election in the history of the universe and that if our side loses, it is the end of democracy as we know it. We are told how to rig an election so that we can win every time. If we win, it was the fairest election in the history of the world. If we lose, it was the most rigged and unfair election ever held in the history of the universe.
The important thing to remember about the Electoral College is that it is racist and anti-democratic, unless our side wins the election. Then, it is fair and balanced and a bastion of true democracy in the world.
We read about insurrections and mostly peaceful protests, how to tell the difference between the two, and how to destroy those who disagree with you – including how to win an argument on social media, and how to own your relatives at Thanksgiving dinner. We read about the government’s relationship with money, and that the government doesn’t make any money so it has to take yours by force.
The book includes a helpful glossary. A few of my favorite definitions are:

  • CNN – The nation’s most popular, reliable, and trustworthy satire site.
  • Separation of Church and State. An important legal principle designed to prevent the worship of God from interfering with the worship of government.
  • Undocumented Immigrant – A Democratic voter.

Like any good book, each chapter has a helpful “Chapter Review” with probing questions. Some of my favorite questions were:

  • What’s the Revolutionary War going on in your life now? Give it to God.
  • Is Jesus Christ the founding father in your life? Why not?
  • Can you identify the bureaucracy in your life? Ask God to break those chains right now.
  • Which one of these amendments personally spoke to your heart? Why?
  • What is the election in your life that you need to focus on?
  • Are you more of an insurrectionist or a peaceful protestor?

This creative book is full of the type of satirical humor that you expect from The Babylon Bee.  Highly recommended for those who could use a laugh.


Leave a comment

MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS


What Are We Waiting For? for KING & COUNTRY
***

The Australian duo for KING & COUNTRY, comprised of brothers Joel Smallbone and Luke Smallbone, follow up their 2018 album Burn the Ships and their 2020 Christmas album A Drummer Boy Christmas with What Are We Waiting For? Their fifth studio album features their distinctive sound of bass, drums and strong vocals. Themes on the album include being the same in different ways, letting go of mistakes we’ve made, God loving us as we are, racial unity, holding on till the pain ends, parents, commitment in marriage, differences, and worship.

Below are a few brief comments about each song:

Relate – This song was the first single from the album and was written by Joel Smallbone, Luke Smallbone, Josh Kerr and Tayla Parx, and produced by Kerr, Tedd T and for KING & COUNTRY. The song, which reached number one on Christian radio, features keys, bass, drums, and backing vocals, and tells us that we don’t know what it’s like to be one another but by the grace of God we’ll see each other’s heart.
Key lyric:
I don’t know what it’s like to be you
You don’t know what it’s like to be me
What if we’re all the same in different kinds of ways
Can you, can you relate?

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

  • More of this review and a brief review of Milk & Honey Tour: Austin City Limits Live – Crowder
  • Music News
  • Song of the Week Lyrics ~ Christ Our Hope in Life and Death – Keith and Kristyn Getty & Michael W. Smith

Continue reading


Leave a comment

BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

What Does It Mean That God Is Sovereign? (Crucial Questions) by R.C. Sproul. Ligonier Ministries. 77 pages. 2022
****

This is one of the newest books in R.C. Sproul’s Crucial Questions series, all of which are free in the digital edition. These books/booklets offer clear answers to the most common and difficult questions about the Christian faith. In this volume, Sproul looks at God’s sovereignty over nothing, creation, salvation, human actions and evangelism.
Sproul writes that when we say that God is sovereign, we are saying that His power is supreme in all reality, and no power in heaven or on earth can possibly resist the power of God. He tells us that there are four ways that God is sovereign. He is sovereign over nature. He is sovereign over history and human affairs. And He is sovereign in His inherent right to impose obligations on His creatures, to say to them, “Thou shalt not do this” and “Thou shalt do that.” He writes that God is sovereign, not we ourselves, and His sovereignty extends to all things, not only the creation of the world but the sustaining and governing of the world, and what we describe as the laws of nature only describe the ordinary ways that God in His sovereignty governs nature.
As with all of Sproul’s teaching, he communicates what can be hard to understand subjects in an easy-to-understand manner.

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

Tim Keller’s How to Find God Series of Books

Tim Keller published three short books – On Birth, On Marriage and On Death – in his How to Find God series. Tim Keller’s aim in his How to Find God series is to help readers facing major life changes to think about what constitutes the truly changed life. The purpose is to give readers the Christian foundations for life’s most important and profound moments, beginning with birth and baptism, moving into marriage, and concluding with death.

The foundation of the three books is a sermon Keller preached at his wife Kathy’s sister’s funeral in 2018. Here are my reviews of each of the books; On Birth is the first book in the series.


Continue reading


Leave a comment

THIS & THAT: A Roundup of Favorite Articles and Quotes

  • How Should Christians View Sunday? Sinclair Ferguson writes “Hebrews teaches us that eternal glory is a Sabbath rest. Every day, all day, will be “Father’s Day!” Thus, if here and now we learn the pleasures of a God-given weekly rhythm, it will no longer seem strange to us that the eternal glory can be described as a prolonged Sabbath!”
  • God-Centered Prayer. Derek Thomas tells us that our prayers reveal much about us.
  • 6 Ways Christians Can Respond to Our Strange New World. Carl Trueman writes “Sooner or later every single one of us is likely to be faced with a challenging situation generated by the modern notion of selfhood. And this means that for all of us the questions of how we should live and what we should do when facing pressure to conform are gaining in urgency. Here are six ways Christians should respond to this new world.”
  • 5 Ways to Maintain Unity amid Disagreement. Dan Doriani writes “We may want fellow believers to agree on social issues, but a church that opens its doors to its community—a church where unbelievers gladly attend—can expect both members and attenders to sometimes disagree. Is there a better way to maintain a unified community amid disagreement?”

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

  • More interesting article links
  • Favorite Quotes of the Week

Continue reading