Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

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My Review of 25 in 24

25 in 24

The film 25 in 24 documents a crazy dream. It was the dream of Christian band Switchfoot’s Jon Foreman. His dream was to play 25 concerts in 24 hours in his hometown of San Diego. The film is directed by Melody League and is beautifully filmed with many scenes of the San Diego area.
Foreman loves to play music. He is able to connect with people through his music. After Switchfoot concerts, he will meet fans outside the venue to play solo impromptu acoustic concerts.
As he released four Wonderlands EPs – Sunlight, Shadows, Darkness and Dawn a few years ago, he came up with a crazy dream. He would play 25, 3-song concerts in his hometown of San Diego in 24-hour period.  There was much to coordinate, and many variables (musicians, transportation, traffic, weather, etc.). Could he remember all of the lyrics to 75 songs playing for 24 consecutive hours? Could he pull off this ambitious project? He tells us that a beautiful dream is worth chasing, even if you fail.
At 10:00 am on October 24, Foreman started out in his van beginning the realization of his dream, an entire day of song. This film follows Foreman as he fulfills his dream, embracing community one song at a time.
I enjoyed watching Foreman and his fellow musicians (only the cellist played all 25 shows) playing in a variety of locations in San Diego – Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park (with Foreman’s mother Jan), Fidel’s Mexican Restaurant with a Mariachi Band, at Rady’s Children’s Hospital with a high school orchestra, singing “Your Love is Enough” at a wedding reception for the first dance for the bride and groom, on the roof of Ironsmith Coffee Shop, a blistering “Resurrect Me” in show 24, etc. Highlights for me were the concert on Mount Soledad, where they watched the sunrise afterwards, the show at Rady’s Children’s Hospital, and the final show on Swami’s beach, where Foreman went into the Pacific Ocean to surf immediately afterwards.
As the evening went on, people began following them from show to show. When it got late into the evening, the crowds became smaller and the shows more intimate. In the midst of it all, Foreman’s van breaks down.
As Foreman and the musicians finished show 25, it was a celebration of family, friendship and community. This was an event that made people come alive.
Foreman tells us that many times it’s the chase that we are looking for. He was chasing after wonder, looking for his Maker, one song at a time. He stated that journey is where life happens. Not in control but in the chaos.
The film is available online where movies are sold (Amazon Prime, iTunes, etc.). Music fans – Switchfoot and Jon Foreman fans in particular – will appreciate this film.


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Music Reviews
Pure McCartney
by Paul McCartney

I grew up as a huge Beatles fan and have followed the band members solo careers as well, by far the most commercially successful and prolific being Paul McCartney.  That’s not to say that there haven’t been some pretty uneven albums along the way (Pure McCartneythink of 1971’s Wild Life by Wings, for example).  Recently I saw McCartney on tour for the twelfth time. One of the things I always look forward to is what songs he will pull from his impressive Beatles, Wings and solo career to play on the tour. Several songs from his compilation show up on his new “One on One” tour set list. This compilation, his fourth, after 1978’s Wings Greatest, 1987’s All the Best and 2001 Wingspan, includes songs from his 1970 debut McCartney to his 2014 single “Hope for the Future” and his 2015 remix of “Say Say Say”, a hit with Michael Jackson.

The collection comes in multiple formats, with the deluxe edition including 67 (25 of which have been newly mastered), solo, Wings and Fireman songs, more than 40 of which were Top 40 hits. McCartney had more than 300 songs to choose from – from 17 solo, 7 Wings and 2 Fireman studio albums.   McCartney and his team came up with the idea of putting together the collection “with nothing else in mind than having something fun to listen to”.

There will always be songs left off that you would like to see on an artist’s compilation project. I was surprised that no tracks from his fine 1989 Flowers in the Dirt album or 2001’s Driving Rain were included, for example.  On the other hand, 8 songs were included from his 1997 Flaming Pie album and 5 from his latest, 2013’s New, were included. I would also have liked to see some more rarities, such as “Girl’s School” and “Spies Like Us”.  One rarity does show up, the children’s song “We All Stand Together”, as well as several “deep cuts” from McCartney solo, Wings and Fireman albums, a particular favorite of mine is “Warm and Beautiful” from the mostly forgettable but best-selling 1976 Wings at the Speed of Sound, where McCartney let all band members take a turn at lead vocals.

Despite the above minor concerns, I enjoyed listening to these songs, all but “We All Stand Together” I once had, but many of which I didn’t have in a CD or digital format. Sit back and enjoy these songs covering McCartney’s amazing now 46-year post-Beatles career.

Note: Pure McCartney gave me the idea to make my own McCartney mixtape, using my favorite Beatles songs he sang lead on as well as my favorites from his solo career. Although I still am adding to the mixtape/playlist, it currently has 233 songs on it.

A good companion to this compilation for McCartney fans would be Philip Norman’s new biography Paul McCartney: The Life.
Stranger to Stranger by Paul SimonStranger to Stranger by Paul Simon

Never one to rest on his impressive laurels, 74 year-old Paul Simon returns with Stranger to Stranger, his thirteenth solo album, five years in the making, and his first studio album since 2011’s excellent So Beautiful or So What. The album is produced by Andy Smith and 81 year-old Roy Halee, a longtime collaborator whose relationship with Simon goes back to the original Simon and Garfunkel days in 1964.

This risk-taking album takes many listens to fully appreciate. It includes two instrumentals and is in many ways experimental, pushing boundaries and featuring a wide variety of instruments, electronic beats, loops, samples, a gospel music quartet, horns and synthesizers.  The album is heavy in percussion, with four of the album’s first six songs not even using a guitar. Simon was influenced by the works of Harry Partch, an American composer, music theorist, and creator of musical instruments. Partch experimented with microtonal tunings. In fact, Simon has said that there is not a lyrical theme to the album, but rather a sound theme, though like his last album, God and the afterlife are recurring themes here.

Here are a few brief comments on each of the songs on the standard edition of the album:

The Werewolf The opening song is about a werewolf, an angel of death. She is looking for other victims to kill. It’s the end of the rainbow, midnight, and she really has the appetite. It is the first of three songs that Simon collaborates with the Italian electronic dance music artist Clap! Clap! A good beat plays behind Simon’s vocal.

Wristband This also features Clap! Clap! It’s one of my favorite songs on the album, about a musician who goes out for a smoke, and then is unable to get back into the venue he is playing at because he doesn’t have the required wristband.  The song then pivots about the homeless and lowly who can never get through the door. Again, an infectious beat behind Simon’s vocal along with some good horns.

The Clock A short instrumental, the first of two instrumentals on the album that were originally written for John Patrick Shanley’s play Prodigal Son. Simon said that he decided to insert them in the album to give a little space after songs.

Street Angel The third song that features Clap! Clap! The central character from this song also appears in “In a Parade”, the first time a Simon character appears on two songs of the same album.  Simon samples 1939 gospel vocals from The Golden Gate Quartet, a favorite of his.  An interesting verse that doesn’t seem to go along with the rest of the song is:

If God goes fishing
And we are the fishes
He baits his lines
With prayers and wishes
They sparkle in the shallows
They catch the falling light
We hide our hearts like holy hostages
We’re hungry for the love, and so we bite

 Stranger to Stranger Simon slows it down on what could be a song to musician wife Edie Brickell. He asks that if they met for the first time could they imagine falling in love again. He is jittery, it’s his way of dealing with his joy. Features some effective horns.

In a Parade The singer may be in an ER, which tonight feels like every wounded soul, or in a parade and can’t talk now. Street Angel reappears, as does the line from the song “Street Angel”, “I write my verse for the universe”.  Features an infectious percussion beat.

Proof of Love This song was inspired by Simon’s visit to a spiritual healer in Brazil when he was suffering from reoccurring violent nightmares. He asks the Lord for proof of love, and hears a voice telling him not to be afraid that his days won’t end with night.

In the Garden of Edie This song is about Simon’s wife Edie, and is the second instrumental included that was originally written for Prodigal Son.

The Riverbank The mostly upbeat sound contrasts with the subject matter here. The song was inspired by a teacher that Simon knew who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December, 2012 and also depicts the funeral of a veteran who committed suicide.

Cool Papa Bell A favorite, this song is partially about a center fielder in the Negro league baseball from 1922 to 1950. He is considered to have been one of the fastest players ever to play the game. Simon sings that most will get to Heaven someday, but not the person he is singing to. They will have to stay and explain the suffering and pain they caused. The song, which has a Graceland vibe to it, includes some adult language.

Insomniac’s Lullaby This acoustic song features the use of instruments created by Harry Partch. It has a melancholy feel to it as he sings for the Lord not to keep him up all night with questions he can’t understand, such as how the builder of bridges will deliver us all to the faraway shore.

music news

  • Andrew Peterson’s Behold the Lamb of God Tour. Andrew Peterson just released his 2016 Behold the Lamb of God (Christmas) Tour. We plan to get to one of the dates. Hope you can as well.
  • Bruce Springsteen to Release Chapter and Verse Companion Album with Autobiography Launch. Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography Born to Run will be published September 23. At the same time, an 18 track album Chapter and Verse will also be released.
  • “Money & Fame” Acoustic Version. Watch NEEDTOBREATHE’s acoustic version of “Money & Fame” as a part of “Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Warehouse Acoustic Sessions,” a series of performance videos and interviews shot inside the company’s Décor Warehouse.
  • New Michael W. Smith Song. Michael W. Smith recently spent some time in the land of Israel and filmed a new video for his song “He Will Never End” while there, featuring many ancient locations from biblical times.
  • Tempo.  Watch the video for the new song “Tempo” from KB.
  • Misconceptions 3. Watch this video of Misconceptions 3 by Lecrae featuring John Givez, Jgivens and Jackie Hill Perry from Lecrae’s Church Clothes 3.

Lecrae QuoteMusic Quotes:

  • Worship doesn’t start with you. It begins and ends with a merciful, majestic and powerful God. ― Matt Redman

  • Don’t chase accomplishments, people or positions to find your worth. You’re already loved, just as you are, by the Father. ― Chris Tomlin

  • “Music is the great unifier. An incredible force. Something that people who differ on everything and anything else can have in common.” ― Sarah Dessen, Just Listen


Song of the Week Looking for America (featuring Lecrae) by Switchfoot

Switchfoot has long been one of my favorite bands and Lecrae has become one of my favorite artists over the past few years. Put the two together, and are you kidding me? You get a powerful song. Great beat and powerful lyrics. Listen to it here, from my favorite album of the year thus far, Where The Light Shines Through.

Here are the lyrics to the song:Where The Light Shines Through

Land of the free, home of the brave
But Lord knows that we need plenty change
‘Cause plenty chains in the past leaving deep scars
But when the sun come down we gonna be stars

The doors are locked where they once stood open
A wound of fear where we once stood hoping
The shattered glass where the bullets broke in
I’m looking for the place that I was born
I’m looking for a way to fix what’s torn
I’m looking for America

I’m looking for America

Yeah, you know
Beaten red white and blue for the green we pursue
I’m still looking for you

America who are you?
Underneath the red blue and white?
America who are you?
I wonder who you are tonight
America who are you?
Is God still on your side?
I want to see a nation rise above the fear and fight that haunts these streets tonight

I’m looking for America
I’m looking for a place to breathe in
A place I could call my home
I’m looking for America
I’m looking for the land of freedom
A place I can call my own

I’m looking for America
Headlines that I can’t believe in
But I’m still holding on to hope
I’m looking for a miracle
I’m looking for a miracle
I’m looking for America

America who are you?
Am I asking for too much
America who are you?
Has your dream become out of touch
America who are you?
Do you get what you deserve
Between the violence and entitlements
Which nation do you serve?

I’m looking for America
I’m looking for a place to breathe in
A place I could call my home
I’m looking for America
I’m looking for the land of freedom
A place I can call my own

I’m looking for America
Headlines that I can’t believe in
But I’m still holding on to hope
I’m looking for a miracle
I’m looking for a miracle
I’m looking for America

I’m singing
Farewell my utopia
Farewell my euphoria
Fare thee well my suburban day-dream
Farewell my utopia

America you so pretty
But you not perfect
Confession of guilt is worth it
These people hurting deserve it
Blood on your hands I saw
When there’s blood on this nations floor
But it’s blood on the upper post of your door
If you need to know

I’m looking for your honesty in skeletons
Do away with your ignorance and arrogance
America the land of immigrants
Check the green card and pedigree
Bless the Choctaw and the Cherokee
That we’ll never see

I’m looking for America
I’m looking for a place to breathe in
A place I could call my home
I’m looking for America
I’m looking for the land of freedom
A place I can call my own

I’m looking for America
Headlines that I can’t believe in
But I’m still holding on to hope
I’m looking for a miracle
I’m looking for a miracle
I’m looking for America

The land of the free, home of the brave
But Lord knows we need plenty change
I’m looking for America
Plenty chains in the past left deep scars
But when the sun come down we gonna be stars
And may the stripes heal when it’s through
Beaten red white blue for the green that we pursue

I’m looking for America

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Where the Light Shines Through (Deluxe Edition) – Switchfoot

Switchfoot is one of my favorite bands, second only to U2. This is their first full-length album since their chart-topping 2014 album Fading West. An EP of songs from the Fading West sessions The Edge of the Earth, was also released in 2014.  Lead singer/songwriter Jon Foreman also released four solo Wonderlands EPs in 2015.

This is the band’s 10th album in their 20-year career. It is also the first time in ten years that the band has worked with producer John Fields, who worked with them on their 2003 breakthrough album The Beautiful Letdown, as well as 2005’s Nothing is Sound and 2006’s Oh! Gravity. Bassist Tim Foreman has said that the band went through a dark season and the record become a source of light in the middle of that dark season. He stated that the album rose organically out of the ashes of adversity.

This is an excellent new release from the band that always sounds fresh. Jon Foreman’s vocals are excellent and Chad Butler’s drums really stand out. I would have liked a few more rockers, but still love the album.

Below are a few comments on each of the songs on the deluxe edition, which debuted on iTunes Top Albums chart at #2:

Holy Water – a strong opener with grungy drums and guitars that reminded me of the band’s raw Oh! Gravity sound. Jon sings that he has fought the fire with fire and he wants to taste the Lord’s love again.

Float – features an infectious funky beat. I liked this song instantly. Jon sings “Turn it up so I can feel it. Loud enough so I can get near it.” He sings don’t let them tell you what to feel like, and that money’s going to leave you broken-hearted. It can’t finish what we started.  A favorite.

Where the Light Shines Through – opens with guitar, then quickly goes into drums and the full band. Jon sings encouragingly that we can’t run away from ourselves. He sings that our scars shine like dark stars and that our wounds are where the light shines through, it’s where the light finds us.  The band describes it as “a gospel song – an open palms altar call – bring your scars and abuse and bruises with you”.

I Won’t Let You Go – opens with acoustic guitar. Jon offers a vulnerable Bono-like vocal as the song builds. This song works on different levels, including being a song in which the Lord is speaking to us about trusting Him.

If you could only let go your doubts
If you could just believe in me now
I swear, that I won’t let you go

Another line that was powerful was “pain gives birth to the promise ahead”.

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January 15, 2014

Adjustments to 2013 Favorites List
I had previously listed The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug as an honorable mention (runner-up) film, along with Fruitvale Station to Captain Phillips for my top film of 2013. We had seen The Hobbit on IMAX 3-D, but unfortunately I was tired from studying for my final exam and slept through what now appears to have been about half of the film. We saw it a second time on New Year’s Day and I was just blown away. So I have to amend my top movie listing to show The Hobbit as number one.
I also inadvertently left off two other items. First, “Ordinary Love” by U2 was left off of my best songs list. The song, their first new one in years, was included in the film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, which is reviewed this week. And second, I left off the excellent Downton Abbey from my list of top television shows.

JOSEPHNew Book Review ~ Joseph and the Gospel of Many Colors by Voddie Baucham Jr.

New Music RevFading Westiews ~ Fading West by Switchfoot and High Hopes by Bruce Springsteen High Hopes

New Movie Reviews ~ Nebraska and MandelaNebraskaMandela

Leadership Book Club ~ WEEK THREE

As we continue working through John Maxwell’s classic book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, this week we’ll look at the following two laws:
• The Law of Victory: Leaders Find a Way for the Team to Win
• The Law of the Big Mo: Momentum is a leader’s best friend

John Maxwell has his own page with lots of New Book Reviews – click here.

Official BIS Logo

Get your Tickets Now!! Michael Card’s Biblical Imagination Conference Returns to Christ Church in Normal in April.
Singer/songwriter, Bible teacher and author Michael Card will bring the Biblical Imagination Conference Matthew: The Gospel of Identity, to Christ Church (PCA) in Normal, Illinois April 25-26, 2014. The Sunday night concert will be held at East White Oak Bible Church, so that we can accommodate more people (as the 2012 concert filled our sanctuary).
You can purchase conference tickets (which includes the concert) at:
You can purchase concert only tickets at:
Conference (includes the concert) tickets are now $48; after February 25, $58. Tickets for the concert only are now $13; after February 25, $18.
If you are coming from out of town, we are excited to offer special conference hotel rates at the Hilton DoubleTree hotel. Just mention the Biblical Imagination Conference and you will get a $79 rate on a standard room, which includes their breakfast buffet. Reservations need to be made by April 18 to receive this rate. (309-664-6446)
More information about the Biblical Imagination Conference can be found at the conference site at
Additional Biblical Imagination Conference and Michael Card resources can be found at:
We hope you can join us for the conference and/or concert. Please pass this information along to others you feel may have an interest. If you have any questions at all, please contact me at or at (309) 452-5438.

This and That
• Join the Duck Commander family on January 15 at 9:00pm on A&E for the Season 5 premiere of Duck Dynasty. These two new episodes promise to be filled with lots of laughter, lots of fun, and more of the crazy stuff you have come to know and love from the Robertson’s. We will get to meet Rebecca Robertson as she makes her debut and then there is a surprise family member we’re going to meet. Could it be Mrs. Si? Who knows?

• Fernando Ortega has been invited to sing with guest speaker Ravi Zacharias at the Mormon Tabernacle. Tickets are sold out but you can watch the event live on the internet. The event is this Saturday, January 18th from 6:30-8:30 p.m. MST. You can watch it here.

• Next Tuesday, January 21 at 6:30pm, Dr. Sproul will be live online via video answering your theological questions. You will be able to submit questions to him in real-time or in advance by using #AskRC on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Check out more at

• Ligonier Ministries is offering the e-book version of R.C. Sproul’s commentary on the Gospel of John free during the month of January. Read this article for more information:

• Each month Christianaudio offers a free audio book download. This month they are offering the ESV Hear the Word Audio Bible, a great choice and the translation of the Bible that I have used since it was introduced in 2001. Download your free copy here.

• 12 Years as a Slave and American Hustle were big winners at the January 12 Golden Globe Awards. One of my favorite new television shows Brooklyn Nine-Nine also was a surprise winner. Read more here:

• In a recent interview with Marie Claire Magazine, pop star Katy Perry, a former contemporary Christian artist, announced that she no longer believes in Heaven or Hell nor professes to be a Christian. Read more here:

• At least two more Christian publishers are investigating concerns of plagiarism regarding Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. Read this article from World Magazine here:

• John Piper writes “Since 2007, millions of people have read books and taken inventories designed to find our strengths. These are useful for positioning people in places of maximum effectiveness.” Read his article “Don’t Waste Your Weaknesses in 2014” here:

• On January 1, Desiring God revealed their redesigned website. Check out the article announcing the upgrade here:

• Check out this article from The New York Times about the current Calvinist revival:

• Kevin DeYoung recently posted “10 Questions for the New Year”. Read that helpful article here:

• Ligonier Ministries recently compiled the best articles from their blog from 2013. Read the articles here:

• John Piper was one of the speakers at the new Cross conference, a new Missions conference for students. The below article captures some of the best quotes from the conference, as well as a video of one of Piper’s messages “The Chief End of Missions: The Supremacy of God in the Joy of All Peoples”:

• Desiring God recently compiled their best videos of 2013. You can view them at this article:

• Desiring God also revealed their top 13 posts of the year. You can read them here:

• Collin Hansen recently compiled the Gospel Coalition’s Editor Choices for 2013. Check them out at this article:

• Ed Stetzer recently published this article on the 10 best church signs of 2013. Check them out here.

• Tim Tebow has been hired by ESPN as an analyst on their new SEC Network. Read more here:,0,

• Needtobreathe will release Wasteland, their follow-up to 2011’s excellent The Reckoning, on April 15.