Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

Restoration – Lecrae
****

This long-awaited album, Lecrae’s ninth studio album, is his follow-up to 2018’s collaboration album with Zaytoven Let the Trap Say Amen, and is his first solo album since 2017’s All Things Work Together. The album doesn’t disappoint.

Four songs were released prior to the full album. Restoration is the companion release to his upcoming book I Am Restored: How I Lost My Religion but Found My Faith. The album has Lecrae partnering with a large number of guest artists, songwriters and producers. The theme of Lecrae’s restoration from life’s difficulties weaves throughout the album. As expected, the production is crystal clear and the performances are all of a high quality.  The Road to Restoration, a behind the scenes look about the making of the album was released in three parts shortly before the album’s release.
Below are a few comments about each song.

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  • More of this review and reviews of Chris Tomlin and Friends
  • Music News
  • Song of the Week Lyrics – Sunday Morning by Lecrae, featuring Kirk Franklin

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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers by Dane Ortlund. Crossway. 224 pages. 2020
****

Every once in a while, a book comes along that just blows you away. Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortlund is one of those books. This was a book that I was influenced to read because so many people I respect were writing good things about it and recommending it. As a result, my wife and I read and discussed the book, which is comprised of relatively short chapters.
Ortlund tells us that the book is written for the discouraged, the frustrated, the weary, the disenchanted, the cynical, the empty. It is written, in other words, for normal Christians. In short, it is for sinners and sufferers.
In the book, the author simply asks what the Bible says about the heart of Christ, and considers the glory of his heart for our own up-and-down lives. The author takes either a Bible passage or a teaching from the Puritans (especially Thomas Goodwin), and considers what is being said about the heart of God and of Christ. He doesn’t focus centrally on what Christ has done, but instead who he is. The two matters are bound up together and indeed interdependent. But they are distinct. Letting Jesus set the terms, the author tells us that his surprising claim is that he is “gentle and lowly in heart.” The point in saying that Jesus is lowly is that he is accessible. He tells us that for all his resplendent glory and dazzling holiness, Jesus’ supreme uniqueness and otherness, no one in human history has ever been more approachable than Jesus Christ.
The message of the book is that we tend to project our natural expectations about who God is onto him instead of fighting to let the Bible surprise us into what God himself says. The book reads almost like a devotional. One way to approach it is to read a chapter a day over your morning coffee. Another is to read and discuss with others.
Here are 20 of my favorite quotes from the book:

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BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review and reviews of…

  • The Gathering Storm: Secularism, Culture, and the Church by Albert Mohler
  • Before You Open Your Bible: Nine Heart Postures For Approaching God’s Word by Matt Smethurst

BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur
I’M CURRENTLY READING….
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THIS & THAT: A Weekly Roundup of Favorite Articles and Quotes

  • What Comfort Does the Doctrine of Providence Bring to Christians During Difficult Times? In perfect wisdom and might, the Lord moves all creatures and events to accomplish His sovereign purpose. From Ligonier’s event Made in the Image of God, John MacArthur expresses the comfort of God’s providence when we face trials of many kinds.
  • Are You Hopeful for Another Spiritual Awakening in Our Day? Can we hope to see another great awakening to the gospel in our lifetime? From one of Ligonier’s live events, R.C. Sproul and Derek Thomas provide global and historical perspectives on the Lord’s work in causing resurgences of the Christian faith.
  • How Do I Find Hope in Suffering? In this episode of the Gospel Coalition biblical counseling series, Paul Tripp answers the question, “How do I find hope in suffering?”
  • What is a Biblical Church? What constitutes a biblical church? From one of the Ask Ligonier events, Derek Thomas sets forth several classic marks of a true church that are derived from principles in God’s Word.
  • Is Social Media All Negative? In this video, Tim Challies provides counsel on how a Christian can use social media for God’s glory.
  • Is God Disappointed in Our Mistakes or Disobedience? Sin is no mere mistake. It’s a willful act of disobedience against the holy, righteous God. In this Q&A video from Ligonier’s 2016 National Conference, R.C. Sproul and Michael Reeves warn of the seriousness of sin.

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  • More interesting article links
  • 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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  • More links to interesting articles
  • The Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week
  • My Review of The Leadership Style of Jesus: How to Make a Lasting Impact by Michael Youssef
  • Snippets from Os Guinness’ book “The Call: Finding and Fulfilling God’s Purpose For Your Life”

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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS


Vintage – Shane and Shane
***

I was introduced to the duo Shane and Shane at the Getty’s Sing! worship conference in Nashville a few years ago, and have enjoyed their music ever since. This album of vintage worship songs, that you probably sang in your church in the 1990’s, was recorded live from home during the COVID-1 quarantine. It was produced and performed entirely by Shane Barnard and Shane Everett.
The duo gives these songs the treatment you would expect from them – acoustic (guitar, light percussion, keys), excellent harmonies, rather slow and extended versions.
I was introduced to a few of these songs on Michael W. Smith’s best-selling 2001 album Worship. There are also two Rich Mullins’ classics included.
Below are a few comments about each song on the album:

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  • More of this review and reviews of
    • Native Tongue (Reimagine/Remix) – Switchfoot
    • Heathen – GAWVI
  • Music News
  • Song of the Week Lyrics – “Drown” by Lecrae, featuring John Legend

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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

The Logic of God: 52 Christian Essentials for the Heart and Mind by Ravi Zacharias. HarperCollins Publishing. 275 pages. 2019 
****

This book of 52 readings from Ravi Zacharias, who went home to be with the Lord May 19, is a collection of his writings, most of which have never before been published in book form. They were selected for their perspective on the many ways God has provided us with evidence of His existence and how this “logic” gives life meaning, establishes the credibility of the Christian message, shows the weakness of modern intellectual movements, demonstrates the certainty of the claims of Jesus Christ, and validates biblical teaching and Christian apologetics. Each reading is preceded by a relevant quote from the Bible. Two other features to help the reader to reflect on important themes in the readings – “Reflection Questions”, and apply the lessons learned from the readings – “Personal Application”. The author recommends that, if possible, you spend a week with each “experience”, although you can also read like a standard “daily devotional” as I did.

Below are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

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BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review and reviews of
~ Growing in Holiness by R.C. Sproul
~ Growing Up (With) R.C. by R.C. Sproul Jr
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur
I’M CURRENTLY READING…. Continue reading


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

  • How Do I Know If I’m Doing Enough for God? On this episode of the Ask Pastor John podcast, John Piper responds to a listener who writes, Sometimes I feel overwhelmed because of what seems like a mounting list of things I must do to become like Jesus. I feel stressed out because I want to please God, but it feels like there are so many things to do: kill sin, grow in fruits of the Spirit, be the best worker I can be, live and pour myself out to my community (church), pursue people to disciple (mission), live a healthy lifestyle, Sabbath properly, and also endure suffering.”
  • How Can Christians Express the Truth of Human Dignity during a Global Crisis? In a world that often rejects the value of human life, COVID-19 gives Christians the opportunity to express the dignity of all of God’s image-bearers. From Ligonier’s livestream event Made in the Image of God, John MacArthur points out how believers can respond to our confused culture.
  • Does God Elect His People to Salvation Based on Any Condition They Have Met? Nothing in us can possibly merit God’s election. Our salvation belongs entirely to His good pleasure and the riches of His grace. From one of the Ask Ligonier events, Stephen Nichols suggests that the wonder of election should drive Christians to worshipful gratitude.
  • How Is Christianity Categorically Different from Every Other Religion? In this short video, Kevin DeYoung links Christianity’s uniqueness to its claims about the person and work of Jesus Christ.
  • How Can I Obtain Assurance of Salvation? It is not the perfection of a Christian’s life, but the direction of his life that demonstrates his conversion. From one of the Ask Ligonier events, John MacArthur explains how the evidence of salvation manifests itself in a believer’s life.

  • Dealing with Criticism in a “Cancel Culture” Era. Scott Sauls writes “Our starting point in this endeavor, which is also our ending point is to remember that Christ himself was “canceled” for our sake. This was voluntary on his part, as a way to cover and protect us from the very true things about us that give him every reason to cancel us. How marvelous, and how wonderful, that he does not so much as consider doing that. Thanks be to God for his unfathomable grace.”

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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

  • My New Book. My book Called to Lead: Living and Leading for Jesus in the Workplace is now available in the Kindle edition (Kindle devices and Kindle reading apps). It is also available free on Kindle Unlimited. You can read a FREE sample of the book. If you have read the book, I’d love to hear what you thought of it.
  • Reflecting on Work While Picking Blueberries. Russell Gehrlein, author of Immanuel Labor – God’s Presence in our Profession: A Biblical, Theological, and Practical Approach to the Doctrine of Work, reflects on the many blessings of being a co-worker with God as he worked in His presence to harvest what others had cultivated from what he had created.
  • What Should I Do About a Corrupt Boss? Will Sorrell writes “As a follower of Jesus, you have a responsibility—and the strength—to speak truth, and so honor Christ. Your honesty and forthrightness are an overflow of the Spirit within you.”
  • 12 Bible Verses to Encourage Christian Leaders. Ron Edmondson writes “Perhaps you should choose one or two of these – write them down somewhere you’ll see them often, and commit them to memory”.
  • Finding Work-Life Balance in the Practice of Sabbath. Andrew Spencer writes “Left unchecked, our work can demand all our time and energy, leaving no room for rest. It can rob us of Sabbath. It can diminish our delight in God’s creation.”
  • Integrating Faith and Work in a Crisis. Watch this discussion between Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church pastor Rob Pacienza and Tom Nelson, President of the Made to Flourish Network, on the topic of Integrating Faith and Work in a Post-Pandemic World.

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    • More links to interesting articles
    • The Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week
    • My Review of Covert Cows and Chick-fil-A: How Faith, Cows, and Chicken Built an Iconic Brand by Steve Robinson
    • Snippets from Os Guinness’ book “The Call: Finding and Fulfilling God’s Purpose For Your Life”

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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS


Great Commission – Sing! The Life of Christ Quintology EP – Keith and Kristyn Getty and Friends
****

Sing! The Life of Christ: Quintology is the fourth album to be released from Keith and Kristyn Getty’s Sing! worship music conferences, following 2018’s Sing! Live at The Getty Music Worship Conference and 2019’s Sing! Psalms: Ancient + Modern (Live At The Getty Music Worship Conference) and Sing! An Irish Christmas – Live At The Grand Ole Opry House.
The new album is being released in five separate EPs over a period of several months. The project will follow the five main themes of the 2019 Sing! conference – the Incarnation, Passion, Resurrection, Commission, and Ascension of Jesus Christ, and include approximately 30 songs. To find out more about my takeaways from the 2019 conference, held in Nashville, read my article “Reflections From the 2019 Sing! Getty Worship Conference here.
The album was recorded at the Gaylord Opryland Convention Center, the Grand Ole Opry House and the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. Everything that the Gettys and their musical friends do is with excellence. Throughout, the songwriting, singing and musical performances are of a very high quality, especially noteworthy for a live recording.
The fourth EP to be released is on the Great Commission. Below are a few comments about each song:

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  • More of this review and reviews of
    • Covers EP by Switchfoot
    • The Worship Initiative, Vol. 20 by Shane and Shane and Various Artists
  • Music News
  • Song of the Week Lyrics

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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS


Every Moment Holy, Volume 1
****

I first heard about the Doug McKelvey’s fine book Every Moment Holy, Volume 1 when Andrew Peterson read a selection from it as he began his breakout session at the 2019 Sing! conference. Not long after, my wife gave me a copy of the liturgy “For the Loss of a Living Thing” after Molly, our fourteen-year-old Alaskan Malamute had died.
The book includes more than 100 liturgies for use in a number of different ways. Some are meant to be read by a “Leader” and the “People”, as in a traditional liturgical service or responsive reading, while others are intended for personal use, read either silently or aloud. Throughout the book you will also find more than 20 illustrations supplementing the liturgies from artist Ned Bustard.
This is not a traditional book intended to be read from beginning to end. Instead, I would recommend that you find a comfortable place to sit, grab your favorite beverage, and review the “Contents”, which are divided into eleven sections, such as “Liturgies of Labor & Vocation”, “Liturgies of Blessing & Celebration”, “Liturgies of Sorrow & Lament”, etc. Some of the liturgies will pertain to your current situation, while others will not. You may find that some of the liturgies that don’t fit your personal situation may be liturgies that you can share with others. For example, we shared three – “For a Moment of Frustration at a Child” and “For the Changing of Diapers I & II” – with our niece who has sixteen-month-old triplet boys. I’ve enjoyed reading the “Liturgies of the Hours” (“Daybreak, “Midday” and “Nightfall”), and my wife and I have started using “Liturgies for Table Blessings”. I look forward to continue exploring these liturgies for both routine and special situations.
I purchased the new softcover “Pocket Edition” of the book, which is a perfect size to carry with you.


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MORE BOOK REVIEWS ~
Walking from East to West: God in the Shadows by Ravi Zacharias
Becoming Us: Using the Enneagram to Create a Thriving Gospel-Centered Marriage by Beth McCord       and Jeff McCord
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur
I’M CURRENTLY READING…. Continue reading