Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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NEW AND UPCOMING ALBUMS

Below are a few new and upcoming albums that I’m looking forward to:

Forever On Your Side Niles City Sound Sessions – NEEDTOBREATHE  

This four-song EP will be released on July 13. The band has already released three of the songs – “Bridges Burn”, “Darling” and “Bullets”.

Noble Ape – Jim Gaffigan
This album will be released on July 13. The film will be available on that date in select cities. I’m looking forward to this release as I saw a concert on this tour that this album was recorded on.
From the artist’s website: “In his all new Noble Ape stand up special, Jim Gaffigan gets personal as he discusses the medical crisis that befell his wife and family this year, which almost led to his retirement”.

My New Moon – Amos Lee
This album will be released August 31. It is Lee’s follow-up to 2016’s Spirit.
From the Amazon description: “Singer/songwriter Amos Lee says his seventh studio album My New Moon is “a dedication…it’s an offering – an altar of sorts to those who have shared their sorrows with me.” It is a product of profound human experiences; loss, grief, hope, healing, love, sorrow, and rejuvenation. Each track on My New Moon takes a journey through these intense and personal experiences. Opening track “No More Darkness, No More Light” was rewritten entirely after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, and speaks to the hope for change that lies in amongst tragic situations and challenges. “Little Light,” written for a young girl who beat cancer, is a positive message of spreading light for the world to see, even if you’re facing hardship. “Hang On, Hang On” reflects the helplessness that comes after the loss of a loved one, “Crooked” brings to light the difficult and confusing times we’ve faced throughout history in America, and “I Get Weak” is a beautifully dark love song to something that might kill you, but you need it to go on living. The album as a whole reflects the darkness and the light that we all both experience and bring into the world, and how through these personal experiences and hard times, we grow more connected to one another.” Continue reading

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My 2018 Mid-Year Favorites

It’s hard to believe that we are at mid-year already. As I have in the past, I wanted to share with you my favorites from the first half of 2018 in a variety of categories. Except for books, these are all items that were released or took place in 2018. For books, I include my favorite books that I’ve read thus far during 2018. Enjoy!  Please let me know what you think of my list, and also share some of your favorites.

Movies

Best: Tie ~ Black Panther and Paddington 2

Other movies I’ve enjoyed, in no particular order, were:

  • Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
  • Incredibles 2
  • Peter Rabbit
  • Calvinist
  • The Post
  • I Can Only Imagine
  • Avengers: Infinity War
  • Isle of Dogs
  • Ready Player One
  • Ant-Man and The Wasp

Worst:  Below are the worst, or at least the most disappointing, films I’ve seen, in no particular order:

  • Hostiles
  • Phantom Thread
  • The 15:17 to Paris
  • God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness
  • First Reformed

Music

Best: Resurrection Letters: Prologue/Resurrection Letters Vol. 1 – Andrew Peterson
  
Other music I’ve enjoyed, in no particular order, were:

  • You’re Driving Me Crazy – Van Morrison and Joey DeFrancesco
  • Let the Trap Say Amen – Lecrae and Zaytoven
  • Surrounded – Michael W. Smith
  • Into the Night – Social Club Misfits
  • One More Song – Ashley Cleveland

Top Songs

Best: Is He Worthy? – Andrew Peterson

Other songs I’ve enjoyed, in no particular order, have been:

  • Take Me to the Water/Cool Down by the Banks of Jordan – Ashley Cleveland
  • I Can’t Lose – Lecrae and Zaytoven
  • Everyday I Have the Blues – Van Morrison and Joey DeFrancesco
  • The Holy Grail – John Fogerty
  • Bridges Burn by NEEDTOBREATHE
  • Better Than I Used to Be by Mat Kearney
  • Don’t Know by Paul McCartney

Books

Best: The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row – Anthony Ray Hinton

Other books I’ve enjoyed, in no particular order, were:

  • Developing the Leader Within You 2.0 – John Maxwell
  • Servant Leadership in Action – Edited by Ken Blanchard
  • The Gospel According to God – John MacArthur
  • The Gospel Comes with a House Key – Rosaria Butterfield
  • How to be a Perfect Christian – Babylon Bee
  • How to Get Unstuck – Matt Perman
  • Take Heart: Christian Courage in the Age of Unbelief – Matt Chandler
  • Immanuel Labor: God’s Presence in Our Profession: A Biblical, Theological, and Practical Approach to the Doctrine of Work – Russell E. Gehrlein
  • The Gospel at Work: How the Gospel Gives New Purpose and Meaning to Our Jobs(Updated and Expanded Edition) – Greg Gilbert and Sebastian Traeger
  • Paul Simon: The Life – Robert Hilburn
  • Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music? Larry Norman and the Perils of Christian Rock – Gregory Alan Thornbury
  • Wooden on Leadership: How to Create a Winning Organization – John Wooden and Steve Jamison

Blogs

Best: Tim Challies’ Ala Carte. This is required reading for me each Monday through Saturday. Challies includes helpful Kindle deals, links to a good variety of helpful articles and a quote.  Check out Tim’s website here.

Podcasts

Best: The Briefing – Albert Mohler. Each weekend morning, Albert Mohler hosts a podcast providing worldview analysis about the leading news headlines and cultural conversations. This is required listening for me. Check out Dr. Mohler’s website here.

Honorable mention goes to the third season of Malcolm Gladwell’s excellent podcast Revisionist History. On each episode, Gladwell goes back and reinterprets something from the past: an event, a person, an idea. Something overlooked. Something misunderstood.

Television

Best: Victoria

  • The Resident
  • This is Us
  • The Profit
  • The Blacklist
  • The Crown

Concerts

Best: U2 – Experience and Innocence Tour in St. Louis

Honorable Mention: John Hiatt and the Goners, featuring Sonny Landreth. Slow Turning 30th Anniversary Reunion Tour in Bloomington, Illinois

New Resources

Best: Messages from the 2018 Ligonier National Conference which had the theme “Awakening”.

These are my mid-year favorites in a variety of categories. How about you? What were some of your favorites?


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My 2016 Favorites

these-are-a-few-of-my-favorite-thingsAs I have for the past several years, I want to share with you some of my favorites from 2016 in a variety of categories. These are all items that were released or took place in 2016 except for books; I include my favorite books of the 62 that I’ve actually read during 2016.  My top 20 books include three each by Sinclair Ferguson and Tim Keller and two by Bryan Chapell.  Enjoy, and please let me know what you think of my list and share some of your favorites.

Never Lose Sight - Chris TomlinFavorite Music Album:  Never Lose Sight by Chris Tomlin. Here’s my review.

Here are the rest of my top 20 favorite albums, listed in order:

  1. Where the Light Shines Through – Switchfoot
  2. Church Clothes 3 – Lecrae
  3. Keep Me Singing – Van Morrison
  4. Spirit – Amos Lee
  5. All at Once – Phil Keaggy
  6. American Prodigal – Crowder
  7. The Waiting Room – Trip Lee
  8. These Christmas Lights – Matt Redman
  9. Fallen Angels – Bob Dylan
  10. Facing a Task Unfinished – Keith and Kristyn Getty
  11. Hard Love – NEEDTOBREATHE
  12. Wow to the Deadness (EP) – Steve Taylor and the Danielson Foil
  13. This Time Around (EP) – Tedashii
  14. Blue and Lonesome – Rolling Stones
  15. Hymns II – Michael W. Smith
  16. Worship and Believe – Steven Curtis Chapman
  17. I Still Can – Eric Clapton
  18. Stranger to Stranger – Paul Simon
  19. Acoustic Christmas – Neil Diamond

yes-and-amen-chris-tomlinFavorite Song:  Yes and Amen by Chris Tomlin

Here are the rest of my top 10 favorite songs, listed in order, along with one bonus song from Trip Lee:

  1. Running Out of Time – Amos Lee
  2. My Victory – Crowder
  3. Jumped Out the Whip – Tedashii
  4. Float – Switchfoot
  5. My Worth Is Not In Not In What I Own – Keith and Kristyn Getty with Fernando Ortega
  6. Testify – NEEDTOBREATHE
  7. Children Go Where I Send Thee – Neil Diamond with the Blind Boys of Alabama
  8. I’m Good – Tedashii
  9. I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine – Eric Clapton

Bonus song: Clouds – Trip Lee

chris-tomlinFavorite Artist of the Year: Obviously Chris Tomlin is my top artist for the year. He has my top album – Never Lose Sight – and song “Yes and Amen” and his song “Good Good Father”, though released in October, 2015, still topped 2016’s Billboard’s Christian Digital Songs chart.

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My 2016 Favorites at Mid-Year

A Few of My Favorite ThingsAs we have the mid-year point, I want to share with you some of my favorites from 2016 in a variety of categories. Except for books, these are all items that were released or took place in 2016. For books, I include my favorite books that I’ve actually read during 2016.  Enjoy, and please let me know what you think by clicking on the ‘Comment’ link above.

MUSIC:  I enjoy music in a variety of genres. My favorites were:

Albums

Top Pick:  Church Clothes 3 – LecraeChurch Clothes 3

Other albums that I’ve enjoyed have been:

Wow to the Deadness (EP) – Steve Taylor and the Danielson Foil

Fallen Angels – Bob Dylan

Stranger to Stranger – Paul Simon

Hymns II – Michael W. Smith

Salvation’s Tide is Rising – Passion

Love Riot – Newsboys

Worship and Believe – Steven Curtis Chapman

This Time Around (EP) – Tedashjii

Facing a Task Unfinished – Keith and Kristyn Getty

I’m really looking forward to two July releases – Where the Light Shines Through by Switchfoot and Hard Love by NEEDTOBREATHE .

Songs

Top pick:  Jumped Out the Whip – Tedashii

Other songs I’ve enjoyed have been:

Float – Switchfoot

My Worth Is Not In Not In What I Own – Keith and Kristyn Getty with Fernando Ortega

Vaporized – Amos LeeJumped Out the Whip – Tedashii

That Old Black Magic – Bob Dylan

It Is What It Is – Lecrae

God and God Alone – Chris Tomlin

I Trust in Christ – Matt Redman

Wow to the Deadness – Steve Taylor and the Perfect Foil

Cool Papa Bell – Paul Simon

Down to the River to Pray – Michael W. Smith

I Don’t Know Why (Jesus Loves Me) – Michael W. Smith

White Bikini – Charlie Peacock

Happiness – NEEDTOBREATHE

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2015 Favorites – So Far

FavoritesAs we approach mid-year, I wanted to take a quick look back and share some of my favorite music, books, movies and a new podcast.

Music

I enjoy music in a variety of genres. As a result, you will see in my 2015 favorites thus far music in such diverse genres as hip-hop/rap to sacred music. My favorites thus far, in order are:

Albums:

  • Saints and Sinners – Matt Maher
  • Before This World – James Taylor
  • Glory to the Holy One: Sacred Music for the People of God – Jeff Lippencott and R.C. Sproul
  • Shadows in the Night – Bob Dylan
  • Tomorrow We Live – KB
  • Lead Us Back: Songs of Worship – Third Day
  • Duets: Reworking the Catalogue – Van Morrison
  • Live from Red Rocks – Amos Lee
  • Live from the Woods – NEEDTOBREATHE
  • The Wonderlands: Sunlight (EP) – Jon Foreman
  • Passion: Even So Come – Various Artists

Albums that I’m aware of being released later this year that I’m looking forward to are:

  • Unbroken Praise – Matt Redman (June 16)
  • The Wonderlands: Shadows (EP) – Jon Foreman (July 17)
  • This is Not a Test – Toby Mac (August 7)

Songs:

Top choice is “Abide with Me” written and performed by Matt Maher. Matt Redman has also covered the song on his new live worship album Unbroken Praise.  Other songs I’ve enjoyed thus far this year, in no particular order are:

  • Soul on Fire – Third Day
  • Sideways – KB (featuring Lecrae)
  • Wonder – Crowder
  • Even So Come – Chris Tomlin
  • Clothed in Righteousness – Jeff Lippencott and R.C. Sproul
  • That Lucky Old Sun – Bob Dylan
  • Watchin’ Over Me –James Taylor
  • Sweet Pea (live version) – Amos Lee

Books

In this category, while many of the books will have been released in 2015, I list those books I have actually read in 2015. My favorites thus far, in order are:

  1. Reformation Study Bible (revised and updated edition)
  2. Spurgeon’s Sorrows: Realistic Hope for those who Suffer from Depression – Zack Eswine
  3. A Loving Life: In a World of Broken Relationships – Paul Miller
  4. Counter Culture: A Compassionate Call to Counter Culture in a World of Poverty, Same-Sex Marriage, Racism, Sex Slavery, Immigration, Abortion, Persecution, Orphans and Pornography- David Platt
  5. Rising to the Call: Discover the Ultimate Purpose of Your Life – Os Guinness
  6. John Knox: Fearless Faith – Steven Lawson
  7. Work Matters: Connecting Sunday Worship to Monday Work – Tom Nelson
  8. The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert – Rosaria Butterfield
  9. The Next Story: Faith, Friends, Family, and the Digital World (revised and updated edition) – Tim Challies
  10. Rise: Get Up and Live in God’s Great Story – Trip Lee
  11. The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do – Jeff Goins
  12. Molina: The Story of the Father Who Raised an Unlikely Baseball Dynasty – Bengie Molina
  13. Chess Not Checkers: Elevate Your Leadership Game – Mark Miller
  14. The New One Minute Manager – Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson
  15. The Mingling of Souls: God’s Design for Love, Marriage, Sex, and Redemption – Matt Chandler

See what I’m reading now.

Movies

We love going to the movies, but frankly it’s been a very disappointing year so far. My favorites thus far, in order are:

  1. Avengers: The Age of Ultron
  2. Cinderella
  3. McFarland USA
  4. Woman in Gold
  5. The Drop Box
  6. Far From the Madding Crowd

New Podcast

Over the past few years Eric Metaxas has become one of my favorite authors. I was excited to hear about his radio show and even more excited when it became available in podcast.

 What are some of your favorites thus far this year?