Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

Rough and Rowdy Ways – Bob Dylan
****

Rough and Rowdy Ways is 79-year-old Bob Dylan’s 39th studio album, and his first of original material since 2012’s Tempest. The title of the album comes from the 1929 song “My Rough and Rowdy Ways” by Jimmie Rodgers. Between Tempest and the new album, Dylan released three albums (one of them being a triple album), of traditional pop standards covers, many of which had been recorded by Frank Sinatra, as well as seven volumes in his ongoing Bootleg Series. The ten new songs here, which cover nearly 71 minutes, have themes of love, mortality, menace, and doom, and make allusions to many historical figures and works of art. Dylan is backed by his touring band, he wrote all songs, and it is assumed that it was self-produced, though there are no producer credits given.
The album, his first album of new material since he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2016, is one of my favorite releases of 2020 thus far. Below are a few comments about each song:
I Contain Multitudes – This was the second song released prior to album’s release. The title comes from Song of Myself, 51 from Walt Whitman. Dylan sings the song beautifully in a low register over an acoustic guitar and cello. He’s a man of contradictions, a man of many moods, he contains multitudes
Key lyric:
I’m just like Anne Frank, like Indiana Jones
And them British bad boys, the Rolling Stones

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  • More of this review and a review of Blues with Friends by Dion
  • Music News
  • Song of the Week Lyrics

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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS


The Range Bucket List: The Golf Adventure of a Lifetime by James Dodson. Simon & Schuster, 321 pages. 2017
****

James Dodson is my favorite golf writer. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed his previous golf books, and had been meaning to read this one, which he says is his “little love letter to the game of golf”, for some time now. He tells us about recently finding a small old notebook of his that contained a list of eleven “Things to Do in Golf.” From there, he developed his “Range Bucket List”, populated with things he still hoped to do in golf.
The book is filled with the joys and sorrows he experiences on his journey, as he tries to tie up some loose ends, completing a personal circle of sorts. He writes of a friend telling him that the game of golf is always waiting for us to return.
We read about his trip with his father to England and Scotland, working with Arnold Palmer as they wrote Palmer’s autobiography – the two most challenging and enjoyable years of his book writing life, and the start of a friendship he could never have imagined as a kid – and then later sharing his emotional last visit with Palmer before he died. We get introduced to his new wife Wendy, or his “golf wife” as he took to calling her. He writes of living in Pinehurst, his strange encounter with Donald Trump, and the story behind how CBS got the TV contract for the Masters tournament. You’ll read about Opti the Mystic (his father), living One-Derr, Grumpy, Glorious Goat Farms, and so much more.
I thoroughly enjoyed this delightful book. It is one of those books that you hate to see end.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
BOOK REVIEWS ~ A Shelter in the Time of Storm: Meditations on God and Trouble by Paul Tripp and The Apostles’ Creed: Discovering Authentic Christianity in an Age of Counterfeits by Albert Mohler
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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My Review of 7500

7500, rated R
***

7500, now showing on Amazon Prime, is an intense thriller, told almost entirely from the cockpit of an Airbus A319 on a flight from Berlin to Paris. The film was directed by Oscar nominee Patrick Vollrath (Alles wird gut) in his feature film debut, who co-wrote the film with Senad Halilbasic. The low budget film, with little or no musical score, gets its title from the emergency code (7500) for a plane hijacking. Though there are few characters in the film, the cockpit door, locked during the flight, and the camera monitor that the pilots use to see outside the door, play key roles in the film.
As the film begins, we see the pilot Michael Lutzmann, played by Carlo Kitzlinger and the co-pilot Tobias Ellis, played by two-time Golden Globe nominee Joseph Gordon-Levitt (50/50, (500) Days of Summer) in the cockpit going through their routine preparations for the flight. The plane has 85 passengers, in addition to the crew. One of the flight attendants is Gokce, played by Aylin Tezel. She is Ellis’ girlfriend, and the mother of his child. The film is told from the viewpoint of Ellis.
The pilots are told by air traffic control to expect some turbulence from weather as they takeoff. Turbulence foreshadows what is to soon come.

***SPOILER WARNING***
The pilots hear shouting in the passenger cabin, and from the camera monitor in the cockpit they see a group of Islamic terrorists try to storm the cockpit. The constant pounding on the cockpit door will go on for much of the film. Soon, a few of the terrorists are able to get into the cabin and kill the pilot. Ellis, though injured, is able to knock out one hijacker, and regain control of the cockpit and plane. He then has to make difficult decisions to protect the passengers and the plane as the hijackers take hostages and threaten to kill them if he doesn’t let them in the cockpit.
****************************

The film is rated R for language, violence and intensity. Themes include courage, leadership, terror and painful decision-making.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is excellent as the co-pilot Tobias Ellis. Omid Memar turns in a strong performance as the 18-year-old Vedat, one of the hijackers.
7500 is an edge of your seat thriller. It’s not a great movie, but at just 92 minutes, it is a fast-moving intense film that features a strong performance by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. It is exclusively available to stream for free on Amazon Prime Video.


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

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  • 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

  • 5 Ways to Make the Most of Unemployment. Tom Nelson writes “When we find ourselves unemployed, how do we make the most of it? Trusting God and his promises, we can take positive steps in moving forward.”
  • How to Faithfully Work from Home in a Season of Teleworking. Russell Gehrlein addresses some of the unique challenges he has faced since having been forced to telework on short notice due to social distancing as a result of the pandemic. Then, he focuses his thoughts on how his Christian faith is impacted by this new environment.
  • Leading in Times of Disruption. Uncertainty and disruption are why the world needs leaders. In this month’s episode of the Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast, Andy and Lane Jones discuss how to lead in uncertain times.
  • Thank God It’s Monday. John Stonestreet writes “To be Christian is to be called to God’s redeeming work in the world. And anyone who is in Christ can and should seek to glorify God wherever they are—even on a Monday.”
  • Business for the Common Good On-Demand. The Denver Institute recently launched Business for the Common Good On-Demand, a resource they are giving away for The videos and discussion guides address questions like: How do you determine if a business is successful? Is it reflected in a positive balance sheet, gleaming customer reviews, or a charismatic CEO? What if God measured success by a broader standard—by the way businesses help every employee, supplier, consumer, or community they touch to thrive?
  • How to Thrive in Work. Paul Tripp shares six gospel principles that will allow you to thrive spiritually in your place of employment.

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  • More links to interesting articles
  • The Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week
  • My Review of Hand Me Another Brick: How Effective Leaders Motivate Themselves and Others by Charles Swindoll
  • Snippets from Os Guinness’ book “The Call: Finding and Fulfilling God’s Purpose For Your Life”

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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

A Gentle Answer: Our ‘Secret Weapon’ in an Age of Us Against Them by Scott Sauls. Thomas Nelson. 224 pages. 2020
****

A Gentle Answer is Scott Sauls’ fifth book. I’ve read them all, and been both blessed and challenged by them. In this timely book, he tells us that whatever the subject may be—politics, sexuality, immigration, income gaps, women’s concerns, race, or any other social matters over which people have differences—angst, suspicion, outrage, and outright hate increasingly shape our response to the world around us. He states that this feels like a culture of suspicion, mistrust, and us-against-them. On the other hand, Jesus is a God of reconciliation and peace, not a God of hate or division or us-against-them. He is the God of the gentle answer. Jesus renounced outrage and advanced the power of a gentle answer throughout his ministry.
The author tells us that in our current cultural moment, outrage has become more expected than surprising, more normative than odd, more encouraged than discouraged, more rewarded than rejected. We form entire communities around our irritations and our hatreds. For our generation, hate has been commodified. It has been turned into an asset. His challenge to us is to decide whether we take offense and strike back, or instead, do we seek to extend kindness and offer a gentle answer? His hope is that because Jesus Christ offered a gentle answer instead of pouring out punishment and rejection for our offensive and sinful ways, we can offer gentle answers to those who behave offensively and sinfully toward us.
The book aims to answer the question, “What must happen in and around us so that we become the kind of people who offer a gentle answer?” The book is as much about what must happen to us and inside us (how to be angry and not sin, how to accept criticism, not to seek retaliation, etc.), as it is about what must be done by us to engage faithfully in a world of us-against-them.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review and reviews of Can Science Explain Everything? by John Lennox and Have No Fear: Being Salt and Light Even When It’s Costly by John C. Lennox
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, Cartoon, & Quotes

Ravi Zacharias

  • Ravi Zacharias on The Ben Shapiro Show. Ravi Zacharias went home to be with the Lord on May 19. Last July, he joined Ben Shapiro for this conversation.
  • Ravi Zacharias (1946–2020) and His Legacy. Alister McGrath writes “Ravi Zacharias will be remembered for his landmark contributions to Christian apologetics, especially his concern to connect the gospel with the life of the mind.”
  • Ravi Zacharias on The Eric Metaxas Show. Enjoy this June, 2019 episode of The Eric Metaxas Show featuring an interview with Ravi Zacharias.
  • 3 Lessons I Learned from Working with Ravi Zacharias. Sam Allberry, who worked as an itinerant speaker with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, shares three things he learned from working with Ravi.
  • Ravi Zacharias at Passion 2020. Enjoy this message from Ravi Zacharias, delivered at Passion 2020 in January, as he helps us to see how each of us has a special purpose in this life that has been designed by God.
  • Kayleigh McEnany’s Emotional Tribute to Ravi Zacharias. Watch White House Press Secretary speak about what Ravi Zacharias meant to her.
  • Ravi Zacharias (1946–2020). Ligonier Ministries writes “We are grateful for the friendship that R.C. Sproul and Ravi Zacharias shared and for the many times Ravi taught at Ligonier conferences. His compelling and winsome defense of the faith will continue to serve people around the world for years to come.”
  • Memorial Service. You can watch the May 29 memorial service for Ravi Zacharias here. Speakers included Vice President Mike Pence, Lecrae and Tim Tebow.

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  • 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

  • Now’s the Time for Rest. Dan Doriani writes “If we hope to endure without a burden of guilt or bad temper, we should rest. We need this God-given rhythm.”
  • Too Many Christian Workaholics. Paul Tripp writes “When you look to work for your identity, you will find it very hard to resist its challenges, demands, and promises of reward.”
  • What COVID-19 Lays Bare: Implications for Women’s Work. Joanna Meyer shares 4 Ways COVID-19 will change how we think about women’s work.
  • COVID-19 Reminds Us of the Humanizing Aspect of Work. Anthony Bradley writes “We need to be reminded why work matters for persons and their communities beyond its capacity to help people meet their personal financial obligations and businesses to remain open.”
  • 3 Essentials to Remember as You Go Back to Work. John Pletcher writes “Remember that work is our Father’s gracious gift. Remember our divine purpose, to serve others for his glory. And remember to “call it a day.” He did.”
  • Mission at Work. Enjoy this sermon series from Bryan Chapell, in which he deals with many workplace realities and challenges us to examine how the Bible applies to each, and to show that it is not only possible to live for Christ at work, but it is also every Christian’s mission.
  • The Theology of Work on Display During our Darkest Days. Russell Gehrlein writes “In the midst of this awful pandemic, it has been an extraordinary time to clearly see some of the basic tenets of the theology of work on display for all to see.”

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  • More links to interesting articles
  • The Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week
  • My Review of “Great Leaders Grow: Becoming a Leader for Life” by Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller
  • Snippets from Os Guinness’ book “The Call: Finding and Fulfilling God’s Purpose For Your Life”

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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

Hymns in the Round – Shane and Shane
****

The latest project from the duo Shane and Shane is an album of ten hymns and worship songs from acoustic studio sessions held in Dallas in November, 2019. Most (eight of ten) songs included here were also included on their 2019 Hymns Vol. 2 album. The difference here is that the songs are performed “unplugged”.

Below are a few comments about each song:

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§  More of this review and a review of The Lost Demos by TobyMac
§  Music News
§  Song of the Week Lyrics- Forever Jesus by Stuart Townend with Keith and Kristyn Getty Continue reading


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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS


Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success by Phil Jackson. Penguin Books. 386 pages. 2013
****

I read this book when it was first published in 2013, and decided to read it again as I watched ESPN’s excellent documentary on Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, The Last Dance. I read the book this time specifically to examine Jackson’s leadership, as he describes the eleven NBA Championships (rings) he won as the Head Coach of the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers.
Jackson has been incredibly successful in professional basketball, winning two NBA Championships as a player with the New York Knicks, six as the Head Coach of the Chicago Bulls and five as the Head Coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. The book includes some biographical information and takes us through his career as a player, coach and as the book ends, his at that time new role as the President of the New York Knicks, the one role in his career that he was not successful in. He played his college basketball at the University of North Dakota, where he was coached by future NBA Head Coaches Bill Fitch and Jimmy Rodgers. In a bit of trivia, way back in March, 1967, Jackson and North Dakota played in the NCAA College Division Midwest Regional Tournament at Horton Field House, hosted by Illinois State University, just down the street from where I live in my hometown of Normal, Illinois.
Jackson was raised by parents who were both pastors, but he describes his childhood as a time when he was “force-fed religious dogma by my parents” who were both Pentecostal ministers. As an adult, he began to search for spiritual practices that might work for him. In the book, he refers to his “deep-seated aversion to organized religion”. He speaks extensively in the book about Zen Buddhism, quoting teachers, and discussing aspects of Zen have been critical to him as a leader.
Regarding his leadership, Jackson points to the book Tribal Leadership, by Dave Logan, John King, and Halee Fischer-Wright, which lays out five stages of tribal development, which they formulated after conducting extensive research on small to midsize organizations. In order to shift a culture from one stage to the next, Jackson tells us that you need to find the levers that are appropriate for that particular stage in the group’s development. Throughout the book, Jackson refers to his various teams and the tribal development stages they were in at the time.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review and a review of Final Word: Why We Need the Bible by John MacArthur
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur
I’M CURRENTLY READING…. Continue reading