Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

Leftover Feelings – John Hiatt with the Jerry Douglas Band
****

I’m been a fan of the now 68-year-old singer-songwriter John Hiatt’s music since his 1987 album Bring the Family. Leftover Feelings is his follow-up to 2018’s The Eclipse Sessions. The new album, one of my favorites of 2021, is a collaboration with the Jerry Douglas Band. It was produced by Douglas and recorded at the historic RCA Studio B in Nashville. Hiatt is joined by multi-instrumentalist Douglas (dobro, lap steel guitar, etc.), Daniel Kimbro on bass, Mike Seal on guitar, Christian Sedelmeyer on violin and Carmela Ramsey on vocals. They chose to record without drums to keep expressive Hiatt’s voice and lyrics in the spotlight. The album features a bluegrass and country rock sound and features a number of Hiatt’s story songs along with a few introspective songs.

Here are a few brief comments about each song:

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  • More of this review and a review of
    • Fogerty’s Factory (Expanded Edition) by John Fogerty
  • Song of the Week Lyrics ~ I Wanna Remember by NEEDTOBREATHE, featuring Carrie Underwood

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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

What is the Gospel? (Crucial Questions) by R.C. Sproul. Reformation Trust Publishing. 109 pages. 2020. 
****

In this new book in R.C. Sproul’s Crucial Questions series (all of which are free in the Kindle edition), he looks at the important issue of the gospel. We often talk about the gospel, but if asked, would we be able to tell someone just what the gospel is? The gospel isn’t our personal testimony, for example.
Sproul indicates that there is perhaps no more important question for us to answer than what the gospel is, because the answer we give will help to determine our eternal destiny. The gospel tells us how we can be saved from our sin. It is therefore crucial that we search the Scriptures carefully in order to clearly articulate what God tells us about how we may be saved.

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BOOK REVIEW ~ More of this review…
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ Providence by John Piper I’M CURRENTLY READING…. Continue reading


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THIS & THAT: A Roundup of Favorite Articles and Quotes

  • 4 Ways Not to Be a Jerk Online. Matt Smethurst shares four ways to be a faithful Christian online.
  • Rest in God’s Faithfulness, Not Yours. Paul Tripp writes “He can be trusted even when you cannot. He will be faithful and good even when you’re not. He will do what is right and best even when you don’t. And he is faithful to forgive you when convicting grace reveals how unfaithful you have been.”
  • Your Neighbor is Not a Virus. Daniel Darling writes “So as we venture back into what we think will be normalcy, as we slowly pull back our masks, as we move a little closer to our friends, as we once again engage in the healthy habits of human life, let’s try to see others, not as potential risks to our physical and spiritual health, but as people crafted in the image of the Almighty.”
  • Every Other Hope Will Disappoint. Paul Tripp writes “From the smallest concerns to the grandest ones, our lives are shaped, directed, motivated, and frustrated by hope.”

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  • Favorite Quotes of the Week

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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 God at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of Life by Gene Edward Veith Jr.
  • 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

Music Reviews

Departures – Jon Forman
****This is the first solo album for the multi-talented leader of Switchfoot, after releasing multiple EPs, the latest being 2015’s four EP collection The Wonderlands. The album features 12 new songs all of which were written or co-written by Foreman. He also produced or co-produced each song. The mostly acoustic songs feature excellent musicianship, and I particularly liked his use of strings.
Foreman has said that this is an album “born out of the turmoil and desperation of the last year, (and this year, too). It’s an album that’s born from the journey, not the destination.” This is an excellent album with themes such as doubt, fears, lessons learned, thanksgiving, love, loss, and those things that really matter. I’ve always enjoyed Foreman’s solo work, and feel that this is his strongest release to date.
Below are a few comments about each song:

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  • More of this review and a review of Evensong (Deluxe/An Evening at Hidden Trace Farm) by Keith and Kristyn Getty
  • Music News
  • Song of the Week Lyrics

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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS


One Line Drive: A Life-Threatening Injury and a Faith-Fueled Comeback by Daniel Ponce de Leon with Tom Zenner. FaithWords. 225 pages. 2021
***

This book, written by St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Daniel Ponce de Leon is about how his life changed after being hit in the head by a line drive by the Iowa Cubs’ Victor Caratini on May 9, 2017. In an instant, his life changed forever. He had no idea that almost dying that day would be a gift from God. He writes that as strange as it sounds, the injury he suffered was, in some ways, the best thing that has happened in his life. He now thinks of his injury as a wake-up call. It showed him just how far he had to go to grow in his journey as a Christian.
The book takes us through that horrific incident – he had a large epidural hematoma and skull fracture, the hematoma being what turned it into a life-and-death situation, his recovery, his battle to make it to the major leagues – his path took him through four colleges and five minor league towns – and his transformation and the spiritual growth that took place during that period.
Daniel’s head absorbed the full force of the impact of the batted ball, with excessive bleeding taking place on the inside of his skull near his brain. If it wasn’t for the quick decisions and actions of trainer Scott Ensell, Daniel could have died.

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BOOK REVIEW ~ More of this review…
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ Providence by John Piper
I’M CURRENTLY READING…. Continue reading


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My Review of the movie IN THE HEIGHTS

In The Heights, rated PG-13
*** ½

In The Heights, the first film we have seen in the theatre since early March 2020, is the film version of the popular Broadway musical written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of Hamilton. It is about a block in the Washington Heights neighborhood in New York City. I really enjoyed this film, and especially the sense of community and the song and dance scenes.
The film was directed by Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians). The screenplay was written by Quiara Alegría Hudes, based on the Broadway musical by Oscar nominee Lin-Manuel Miranda (Moana). The choreography was by three-time Emmy nominee Christopher Scott (So You Think You Can Dance).
Although we meet a lot of characters from the neighborhood, the film primarily follows the stories of three characters and their dreams. Usnavi, played by Anthony Ramos, who plays the role Miranda did on Broadway, is the owner of a bodega, who dreams of going back to the Dominican Republic to run his father’s beachfront bar. He is close to his dear Abuela, a grandmother figure played by Olga Merediz (who also played the role in the Broadway musical, for which she received a Tony Award nomination). Usnavi employs and mentors Sonny, played by Gregory Diaz IV, who is a “Dreamer”, the son of illegal immigrant parents. Usnavi likes Vanessa, played by Melissa Barrera, who works in a hair and nail salon who dreams of moving downtown to fully pursue her dream of being a fashion designer. Continue reading


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

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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

  • Graduating into a Pandemic Work Environment. Russ Gehrlein writes “I was recently asked what I would say to new college graduates who are entering a radically changed work environment, one that has been altered due to the COVID-19 pandemic that we have experienced for the past 15 months. Here is my encouraging message to them that is grounded in biblical truth and orthodox theology, and that will hopefully offer some practical suggestions.”
  • Three Biblical Life Lessons for Launching Your Graduate. Gary Hansen shares three important things graduates should keep in mind during this season of celebration.
  • Five Things That I Wish Someone Had Told Me After Graduation. Hugh Whelchel writes “After a lifetime of work, here are five biblical truths that I wish someone had told me when I graduated.”
  • How to Crush Your Interview and Land Your Dream Job with Austin Belcak. On this episode of the Crush Your Career podcast, Dee Ann Turner is joined by Austin Belcak, the founder of Cultivated Culture. He and Dee Ann talk about the role of networking in landing your dream job, how to prepare for an interview, tips and tricks to differentiate yourself in today’s world of virtual interviews, and how to use social media to set yourself apart from the other interviewees.

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  • More links to interesting articles
  • The Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week
  • My Review of Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem by Kevin DeYoung
  • Snippets from the book Work and Worship: Reconnecting Our Labor and Liturgy by Matthew Kaemingk and Cory B. Willson

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

  • 3 Reality Checks for Your Marriage. Paul Tripp shares essential wisdom perspectives that Scripture gives us that enable us to have realistic expectations for our marriage.

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  • More interesting article links
  • Favorite Quotes of the Week

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