Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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My Mid-Year Favorites

As I’ve done for a number of years now, I want to share with you my mid-year favorites from 2019 in a variety of categories. Except for books, these are all items that were released, or took place in 2019. For books, I include my favorite books that I read during 2019, regardless of when the book was published. Enjoy!  Please let me know what you think of my list, and also share some of your favorites.

Movies
Top Choice: Avengers: Endgame

Other films that I’ve enjoyed, in order are:
Toy Story 4
The Upside
The Biggest Little Farm
Amazing Grace
American Gospel: Christ Alone
Apollo 11
Free Solo
They Shall Not Grow Old
Tolkien
Stan and Ollie

Click on ‘Continue Reading’ to see my mid-year favorite albums, songs, books, blogs, podcasts, conferences, TV shows, concerts and new resources. Continue reading

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My 2018 Favorites


As I’ve done for a number of years, I wanted to share with you my favorites from 2018 in a variety of categories:  movies, music, books, etc. Except for books, these are all items that were released or took place in 2018. For books, I include my favorite books that I read during 2018, regardless of when the book was published. Enjoy!  Please let me know what you think of my list, and also share some of your favorites.
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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 Favorite Podcasts

For years, I’ve enjoyed listening to podcasts and I subscribe to many of them. A podcast is defined as “a digital audio or video file made available on the Internet for downloading to a computer or mobile device, typically available as a series, new installments of which can be received by subscribers automatically”.  Many churches make their sermons available via a podcast for example. Some of the podcasts I subscribe to are from churches or other ministries. Some of the podcasts are related to leadership or faith and work. I subscribe to all of my podcasts on iTunes. Here are my favorite podcasts that I would recommend to you:

  • The Briefing. This podcast features Albert Mohler’s worldview analysis about the leading news headlines and cultural conversations. It is required listening for me each weekend morning.
  • The Gospel Coalition. The Gospel Coalition podcasts features lectures and workshops from their conferences, as well as timely interviews and round table discussions on applying the gospel to the issues of our day. Included among the podcasts is Nancy Guthrie’s helpful “Help Me Teach the Bible”.
  • Andy Stanley’s Leadership Podcast. This monthly podcast features Andy Stanley talking about a variety of leadership topics.
  • Tim Keller’s Sermon Podcast. This podcast from Gospel in Life features a classic message from Keller every month or so.
  • Ravi Zacharias Podcasts. Ravi Zacharias has two podcasts that I enjoy:
  1. Just Thinking. Just Thinking is a quarter-hour weekday broadcast. This program mixes biblical teaching and Christian apologetics. The programs seek to explore issues such as life’s meaning, the credibility of the Christian message and the Bible, the weakness of modern intellectual movements, and the uniqueness of Jesus Christ.
  2. Let My People Think. Let My People Think is a half-hour program heard weekly. This program mixes biblical teaching and Christian apologetics. The programs seek to explore issues such as life’s meaning, the credibility of the Christian message and the Bible, the weakness of modern intellectual movements, and the uniqueness of Jesus Christ.
  • Renewing Your Mind. Renewing Your Mind is an outreach of Ligonier Ministries, founded in 1971 by Dr. R.C. Sproul. The podcasts include teaching by Dr. Sproul and the other Ligonier Teaching Fellows (Sinclair Ferguson, Derek Thomas, Albert Mohler, etc.).
  • Truth for Life. This podcast features the daily bible teaching ministry of Alistair Begg.
  • Grace to You. Grace to You is the daily podcast of John MacArthur’s bible teaching.
  • Ask Pastor John. This podcast features John Piper answering questions from listeners.
  • Unlimited Grace. This new podcast features sermons from Bryan Chapell, Senior Pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church in Peoria, IL (where Tammy and I were married), and President Emeritus of Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri (where I attended seminary).
  • Martyn Lloyd-Jones Sermons. This podcast features the sermons of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, the great Welsh Protestant minister, preacher and medical doctor who was influential in the Reformed wing of the British evangelical movement in the 20th century. For almost 30 years, he was the minister of Westminster Chapel in London.

Just missed:

  • Revisionist History. I really enjoy Malcolm Gladwell’s books, having read them all, some more than once. Last year he introduced this podcast with ten episodes. Revisionist History goes back and reinterprets something from the past: an event, a person, an idea. Something overlooked. Something misunderstood. I hope that he releases some additional episodes. This is really fascinating listening. If you enjoy his books you’ll enjoy this new podcast.

I also subscribe to podcasts from the following churches Grace Presbyterian (Bryan Chapell), Christ Presbyterian (Scott Sauls) and First Presbyterian (Derek Thomas).

These are my favorite podcasts. What about you? What are some of your favorites? Please share with us.


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MY 2017 FAVORITES

As has been my practice for a number of years, I am sharing some of my favorites from 2017 in a variety of categories.  What about you? What were some of your favorites in these categories?

Television Series

Top Pick: Victoria

Others that I’ve enjoyed, in no particular order were:

  • This is Us
  • The Man in the High Castle
  • Broadchurch
  • The Crown

Podcasts

Top Pick: Albert Mohler’s The Briefing. Each weekday 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.

 

Blogs

Top Pick: 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.

Recommended Resources

Top Pick: The Whole Christ – Sinclair Ferguson

Other new resources released in 2017 that I would recommend are, in no particular order:

Luther: The Life and Legacy of the German Reformer.  See my review of this excellent new documentary.

Dispatches from the Front. Episode 10: The Fourth Man. See my review of this excellent resource here.

The Lord’s Prayer by Albert Mohler. In this twelve-part series, Dr. Albert Mohler shows that the pattern of prayer Jesus provides is few in words, yet massive in meaning. His prayer reflects true theology and proper doxology – a perfect guide in our lives. I listened to this series as our book club at work was reading and discussing Tim Keller’s book Prayer.

Conference  

Top Pick: Ligonier Ministries National Conference: The Next 500 Years. Watch or listen to all of the messages here.

Ministry Highlights

  • Speaking on faith and work at the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) General Assembly in Greensboro, North Carolina.
  • Speaking on faith and work at the Lexington Community Church By the Way Conference in Lexington, Illinois.


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MY 2017 FAVORITES…so far


It’s hard to believe that we are at mid-year already. I wanted to share with you some of my favorites from the first half of 2017 in a variety of categories. Except for books, these are all items that were released or took place in 2017. For books, I include my favorite books that I’ve actually read thus far during 2017.  Enjoy, and please let me know what you think of my list and share some of your favorites.

Music ~ I enjoy music in a variety of genres. My favorites thus far are:

Albums ~Top Pick: Crooked – Propaganda

Here are the rest of my favorite albums (in no particular order) thus far:

  • The Joshua Tree (Super Deluxe) – U2
  • Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Deluxe Edition) – Beatles
  • Triplicate – Bob Dylan
  • The Misadventures of Fern & Marty – Social Club Misfits
  • Cinco – Jim Gaffigan
  • Flowers in the Dirt (Special Edition) – Paul McCartney

Songs ~ Top pick: Blessings – Lecrae (featuring TY Dollar $ign)                

Here are the rest of my favorite songs (in no particular order), thus far:

  • Revival – Third Day
  • I’ll Find You – Lecrae featuring Tori Kelly
  • My Song is Love Unknown – Fernando Ortega
  • Your Cross Changes Everything – Matt Redman
  • Your Love Defends Me – Matt Maher

Concerts  ~ Top Pick: U2’s The Joshua Tree Tour at Soldier Field in Chicago with the Lumineers opening.

Musicals  ~ Top Pick: Hamilton in Chicago

Books ~ In this category, while many of the books were published in 2017, I list the best of the books I actually read in 2017. My favorites thus far are:

Top pick: The Legacy of Luther, edited by R.C. Sproul and Stephen Nichols

Here are the rest of my favorite books (in no particular order), thus far:

  • The Gospel According to Paul: Embracing the Good News at the Heart of Paul’s Teachings – John MacArthur
  • Glory in the Ordinary: Why Your Work in the Home Matters to God – Courtney Reisigg
  • Learning to Love the Psalms – Robert Godfrey
  • Calling to Christ: Where’s My Place? – Robert Smart
  • Discipleship with Monday in Mind: How Churches Across the Country Are Helping Their People Connect Faith and Work – Skye Jethani and Luke Bobo
  • Between Heaven and the Real World: My Story – Steven Curtis Chapman
  • Leaders Made Here: Building a Leadership Culture – Mark Miller
  • Workplace Grace – Bill Peel and Walt Larimore
  • Befriend: Create Belonging in an Age of Judgment, Isolation, and Fear – Scott Sauls
  • Reset – David Murray
  • Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen

See what I’m reading now.

Movies ~ I usually see at least one movie a week. Here is the best – and the worst – of what I’ve seen thus far:

Top Pick:  Hidden Figures

Here are the rest of my favorite movies (in no particular order), thus far:

  • Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2
  • Gifted
  • The Case for Christ
  • A United Kingdom
  • Beauty and the Beast
  • Get Out
  • Lion
  • Baby Driver
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Unfortunately, there have also been a few poor movies I’ve seen as well. Here are the two worst movies I’ve seen thus far:

  • The Resurrection of Gavin Stone
  • The Zookeeper’s Wife

Television Program

Top Pick:  The Profit. Season 4 is finally here. If you are not familiar with this show, read more about it here.

Podcasts

Top Pick: Albert Mohler’s The Briefing. Each weekday 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.

Also, I was happy to hear recently that Malcolm Gladwell’s excellent podcast Revisionist History returning for season two. Listen to the first episode “A Good Walk Spoiled” here.

Blogs

Top Pick: 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.

Another blog that is required reading for me each day is HeadHeartHand from David Murray, author of the excellent new book Reset.

Recommended New Teaching Series

The Lord’s Prayer by Albert Mohler. In this twelve-part series, Dr. Albert Mohler shows that the pattern of prayer Jesus provides is few in words, yet massive in meaning. His prayer reflects true theology and proper doxology—a perfect guide for our own lives. I listened to this series as our book club was studying Tim Keller’s book Prayer.

Recommended Resources

Luther: The Life and Legacy of the German Reformer.  See my review of this excellent new documentary.

Dispatches from the Front: The Fourth Man. If you are not familiar with this set of videos from Frontline Missions and Tim Keesee you should be. For more information go here.

Conference

Top Pick: Ligonier Ministries National Conference: The Next 500 Years. Watch or listen to all of the messages here.

These are my favorites in a variety of categories.  What about you? Please share 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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