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Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

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Coram Deo ~ Living Life Before the Face of God 7.23.2014


INTEGRATING FAITH AND WORK:  Connecting Sunday to Monday

Book Reviews ~

Movie Reviews ~ Ragamuffin

Music Review ~ John: A Misunderstood Messiah by Michael Card

Concert Review ~ Chris Tomlin and Brandon Heath at the US Cellular Coliseum July 19

Experiencing God at Spoon River Pregnancy Resource Center

by Teri Williams, Director

Having been part of a Pregnancy Center ministry for many years, I have listened to many in leadership describe incidents of “God is working in our midst”, “God has provided in an amazing way just what we needed”. Yes, it was incredible to hear about, but it is even more amazing to watch! Genesis 23:16 says, “Surely the Lord is in this place…” The evidence being in the fruit only He can bear. The following examples are just a glimpse;

  1. We have a new volunteer, Cindy Brown. She is an advocate at WPC in Peoria that I have known for a long time. She called me one day and said,” Teri, the Lord has impressed upon me that you could use some help!” Amazing.
  2. Being asked to pray by a client who has said multiple times,” I don’t believe in God”.
  3. STUCK, our new Bible study curriculum has been so well received; clients are asking to view more of it!
  4. We have 2 churches who have stepped up to say; we will provide brand new cribs for women who earn them through the EWYL (Earn While You Learn) program. Word is getting out into the community about this as well!
  5. Free advertising that is bringing in new clients!
  6. One client who accepted Christ this spring!
  7. New clients, new babies, sonogram appointments and even phone calls from people considering abortion!

Yes, it is exciting. If you would like to partner with us in this ministry, please contact:

Teri Williams, Director
Spoon River Pregnancy Resource Center (309-647-4102)
1055 W. Locust
Canton, IL 61520


5 loveThe 5 Love Languages Book Club Week Four    

Last week Tammy and I completed week four of our summer book club – Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to a Love that Lasts. We drove out to Evergreen Lake and enjoyed the beauty (and even ran into some great friends bringing their pontoon boat in!), while covering the third language “Receiving Gifts” and the questions from the Study Guide (available for download at this link – Here are a few passages we highlighted:

  • I examined the cultural patterns surrounding love and marriage and found that in every culture I studied, gift giving was a part of the love-marriage process.
  • A gift is something you can hold in your hand and say, “Look, he was thinking of me,” or “She remembered me.” You must be thinking of someone to give him a gift. The gift itself is a symbol of that thought. It doesn’t matter whether it costs money. What is important is that you thought of him. And it is not the thought implanted only in the mind that counts, but the thought expressed in actually securing the gift and giving it as the expression of love.
  • Gifts are visual symbols of love.
  • If receiving gifts is my primary love language, I will place great value on the ring you have given me and I will wear it with great pride. I will also be greatly moved emotionally by other gifts that you give through the years. I will see them as expressions of love. Without gifts as visual symbols, I may question your love.
  • If your spouse’s primary love language is receiving gifts, you can become a proficient gift giver. In fact, it is one of the easiest love languages to learn.
  • Make a list of all the gifts your spouse has expressed excitement about receiving through the years. The list will give you an idea of the kind of gifts your spouse would enjoy receiving.
  • If receiving gifts is his/her primary love language, almost anything you give will be received as an expression of love.
  • If you are a spender, you will have little difficulty purchasing gifts for your spouse; but if you are a saver, you will experience emotional resistance to the idea of spending money as an expression of love.
  • There is an intangible gift that sometimes speaks more loudly than a gift that can be held in one’s hand. I call it the gift of self or the gift of presence. Being there when your spouse needs you speaks loudly to the one whose primary love language is receiving gifts.
  • Physical presence in the time of crisis is the most powerful gift you can give if your spouse’s primary love language is receiving gifts. Your body becomes the symbol of your love. Remove the symbol, and the sense of love evaporates.
  • If the physical presence of your spouse is important to you, I urge you to verbalize that to your spouse. Don’t expect him to read your mind.
  • At the heart of love is the spirit of giving.

Each chapter ends with a helpful discussion question.

Tammy added an excellent insight about the book. She said that this would be more of a Christian book if it pointed to God at the end of each chapter, just like a Christ-centered sermon does. We should love others as God loves: He is the giver of great gifts, He made us to spend quality time with Him…What about Acts of Service (giving His only Beloved Son to reconcile us to Himself), Words of Affirmation (I Peter 2:9), and Affection (Psalm 91:4)? Just think about it; Instead of loving others to fill their needs you can then love others sacrificially and without expectation of being loved in return.

Next week we will cover the fourth love language “Acts of Service”. Won’t you join us?I Peter 2.9


  • My good friend Dustin Webb just started a new tree trimming and removal business. The name is….get this….Kick Ash. I love it! The story goes that Dustin needed to have an ash tree removed and was stunned at the cost and knew he could do it less expensively and fulfill one of his passions – exercise and physical fitness. I’m amazed at how many trees I’ve seen this year that have either died or are under stress. If you have a need, send Dustin an email at or call him at 309-287-1147.
  • The Passion 2015 conference has announced their speakers for their event in Atlanta January 2-4. The event will also be held in Houston.

Passion 2015





  • Ligonier Ministries continues work on the extensive update of The Reformation Study Bible (RSB). The updated RSB will be released in the English Standard Version (ESV) before spring, 2015 and in the New King James Version (NKJV) next fall.
  • R.C. Sproul has been working with an award-winning composer to produce a work of new hymns. Recordings are taking place at this time. The new hymns will be debut in a concert at Saint Andrew’s Chapel, where Sproul is Co-Pastor on February 18, 2015, just preceding the 2015 Ligonier Ministries National Conference.



  • Ron Howard has announced that he will be filming a documentary on the Beatles as a live act. He will be interviewing Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison for the project. Read more here:
  • One of my favorite singer/songwriters (and now authors) Ashley Cleveland reports that Bart Peters, a film maker in Los Angeles and the head of original content for Direct TV is making a documentary on Ashley based on her excellent book Little Black Sheep. Peters has brought Morgan Neville, who won an Oscar this year for his documentary: “Twenty Feet From Stardom,” on board as co-producer. Filming has already begun and there is a loose plan to finish by the end of the year.
  • Big Daddy Weave will be in concert at Lincoln Christian University on August 16. One of the organizations that will benefit from the proceeds is the local Immanuel Health Center. To find out more, go to:
  • Chris Tomlin will release his new album Love Ran Red this fall. We can expect it to include his new single “Waterfall” and “At the Cross (Love Ran Red)”, my favorite song of 2014 thus far. Here are the lyrics to “At the Cross”, which I believe has the potential to have the impact of Matt Redman’s “10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)”:

There’s a place where mercy reigns and never dies
There’s a place where streams of grace flow deep and wide
Where all the love I’ve ever found
Comes like a flood
Comes flowing down

At the cross
At the cross
I surrender my life
I’m in awe of You
I’m in awe of You
Where Your love ran red
And my sin washed white
I owe all to You
I owe all to You Jesus

There’s a place where sin and shame are powerless
Where my heart has peace with God and forgiveness
Where all the love I’ve ever found
Comes like a flood
Comes flowing down


Here my hope is found
Here on holy ground
Here I bow down
Here arms open wide
Here You save my life
Here I bow down
Here I bow down



  Quotable:  You don’t give God authority over your life. He has it, totally. - John Piper

 R. C. Sproul quote

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Coram Deo ~ Living Life Before the Face of God 7.16.14

I got a chuckle out of this cartoon in World Magazine:
Obama cartoon


Book Reviews

Movie ReviewsPaul McCartney at the United Center July 9

  • The Unknown Known
  • Begin Again

Concert Review ~ Paul McCartney at the United Center July 9

Integrating Faith and Work



  • Michael Card has two new book projects that he is considering. He writes “The first has to do with the synthesis of the four Gospels. For several years now I have longed to integrate the four different portraits of Jesus found in the Gospels.  I plan on calling it the Four Portraits of Jesus. It would be based on the themes and conclusions of the four previous books on the Gospels. The other book, and the one I believe I will probably tackle first, has to do with the Hebrew word Hesed. This unique word occurs over 250 times in the Old Testament. I propose to look at each one of those examples and organize them into themes. Finally, I would like to look at the New Testament and see in what ways the word hesed appears in the teaching and life of Jesus.”Eric Metaxas book - Miracles
  • Eric Metaxas will release his new book Miracles on October 28. Read more here:
  • J.K. Rowling writes of an adult Harry in a new story posted last week on her Pottermore website. Read more here:
  • Robertson Unphiltered
  • Phil Robertson will release his follow-up book to Happy, Happy, Happy, unPHILtered: The Way I See It on September 2.
  • Louis Zamperini, the inspiration for the best-selling book Unbroken (an incredible story, and one of my favorite books), and soon to be released (Christmas Day) film has died at age 97. Read more here.



  • Just a reminder….Keith and Kristyn Getty will bring their “Hymns of the Christian Life” Tour to Grace Presbyterian Church in Peoria on October 16 at 7:00pm. The concert is sponsored by our good friends at WBNH radio. We’ll let you know when tickets become available. You can get more information, including a downloadable tour poster, at
  • Scott Stapp, a believer, and former lead singer of Creed has been booked into the Castle on August 29. Read more here: Card John album
  • Michael Card’s final album in the Biblical Imagination Series John: A Misunderstood Messiah, was released this week! Look for a review in the coming weeks.
  • Kevin Trax offers a brief profile of one of my favorite rappers Trip Lee here.
  • For the past few years, after hearing about it from Tim Challies and John Piper, I’ve enjoyed Christian hip-hop/rap. I first started listening to Lecrae (still my favorite), but I’ve since been introduced to Trip Lee, KB, Andy Mineo, Propaganda, Tedashii and others. Tim Challies’ guide to Christian hip-hop/rap may be helpful to you. Check out his “Middle Aged White Guys Guide to Christian Rap” here:
  • And speaking of Christian rap, I recently listened to episode 281 of the Catalyst podcast, featuring interviews with Christian rappers Trip Lee and Andy Mineo. You can listen to it here:
  • And one more story about Christian rap, read about this lawsuit alleging that Katie Perry plagiarized Flame’s song “Joyful Noise” for her song “Dark Horse” here.
  • NEEDTOBREATHE announces that The Live Roomsession was recorded in Studio A at the infamous Ocean Way Recordings (Los Angeles, CA) earlier this year, the same room that artists from The Beach Boys and Frank Sinatra to Whiskeytown, Radiohead, and Tom Petty used before them. Check out the band “getting their mojo back” here:
  • John Hiatt has been one of my favorite artists since his Bring the Family album in 1987. But unfortunately few know about him. Read this profile in the Wall Street Journal –
  • Bruce Springsteen recently released the video for “Hunter of Invisible Game” from his High Hopes album. Watch it here. 
  • Paul McCartney recently released the video for his song “Early Days” from his New album. “The idea was inspired by the chance meeting in 1957 that would change Paul, John, George, and Ringo’s lives forever,” explains L.A. director Vincent Haycock. The proposal Vincent wrote for ‘Early Days’ simply begins, “This film is a poetic homage to the legendary beginnings of Paul McCartney and John Lennon’s relationship.” Shot between L.A., Natchez, Mississippi and Faraday, Louisiana, Vincent spent almost a month in total working on the video. Paul recorded his parts in L.A. over two days and the story unfolds around an intimate performance with just him and an acoustic guitar. By the end of the video Paul is playing with a group of blues guitarists, including his friend Johnny Depp. Johnny, no stranger to a McCartney video and an accomplished guitar player too, stopped by on the day for a jam. Watch the video here:
  • Last week, Paul McCartney helped facilitate a marriage proposal onstage at one of his concerts. Watch it here:
  • Jimmy Fallon (as Neil Young) joins Crosby, Stills and Nash to cover Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy”. Watch it here. 



The 5 Love Languages Book Club Week Three  

5 loveTammy and I completed week three of our summer book club of Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to a Love that Lasts last week. We covered the second love language Quality Time. Here are a few passages we highlighted and discussed:

  • By “quality time,” I mean giving someone your undivided attention.
  • What I mean is sitting on the couch with the TV off, looking at each other and talking, giving each other your undivided attention. It means taking a walk, just the two of you, or going out to eat and looking at each other and talking.
  • A key ingredient in giving your spouse quality time is giving them focused attention, especially in this era of many distractions.
  • Quality time does not mean that we have to spend our together moments gazing into each other’s eyes. It means that we are doing something together and that we are giving our full attention to the other person. The activity in which we are both engaged is incidental. The important thing emotionally is that we are spending focused time with each other. The activity is a vehicle that creates the sense of togetherness.
  • Our spending time together in a common pursuit communicates that we care about each other, that we enjoy being with each other, that we like to do things together.
  • Like words of affirmation, the language of quality time also has many dialects. One of the most common dialects is that of quality conversation. By quality conversation, I mean sympathetic dialogue where two individuals are sharing their experiences, thoughts, feelings, and desires in a friendly, uninterrupted context.
  • If your spouse’s primary love language is quality time, such dialogue is crucial to his or her emotional sense of being loved.
  • Quality conversation is quite different from the first love language. Words of affirmation focus on what we are saying, whereas quality conversation focuses on what we are hearing.
  • If I am sharing my love for you by means of quality time and we are going to spend that time in conversation, it means I will focus on drawing you out, listening sympathetically to what you have to say. I will ask questions, not in a badgering manner but with a genuine desire to understand your thoughts, feelings, and hopes.
  • Many of us are like Patrick. We are trained to analyze problems and create solutions. We forget that marriage is a relationship, not a project to be completed or a problem to solve.
  • A relationship calls for sympathetic listening with a view to understanding the other person’s thoughts, feelings, and desires. We must be willing to give advice but only when it is requested and never in a condescending manner.
  • Most of us have little training in listening. We are far more efficient in thinking and speaking. Learning to listen may be as difficult as learning a foreign language, but learn we must, if we want to communicate love. That is especially true if your spouse’s primary love language is quality time and his or her dialect is quality conversation.
  • I suggest the following summary of practical tips:

1. Maintain eye contact when your spouse is talking. That keeps your mind from wandering and communicates that he/she has your full attention.

2. Don’t listen to your spouse and do something else at the same time. Remember, quality time is giving someone your undivided attention… If you can’t do that right now, just say “if you will give me ten minutes to finish this, I’ll sit down and listen to you.”

3. Listen for feelings. Ask yourself, “What emotion is my spouse experiencing?” When you think you have the answer, confirm it.

4. Observe body language. Sometimes body language speaks one message while words speak another.

5. Refuse to interrupt.

  • Learn to reveal yourself – Quality conversation requires not only sympathetic listening but also self-revelation. Self-revelation does not come easy for some of us. Many adults grew up in homes where the expression of thoughts and feelings was not encouraged but condemned. By the time we reach adulthood, many of us have learned to deny our feelings. We are no longer in touch with our emotional selves.
  • If you need to learn the language of quality conversation, begin by noting the emotions you feel away from home.
  • Using your notepad, communicate your emotions and the events briefly with your spouse as many days as possible. In a few weeks, you will become comfortable expressing your emotions with him or her. And eventually you will feel comfortable discussing your emotions toward your spouse, the children, and events that occur within the home. Remember, emotions themselves are neither good nor bad. They are simply our psychological responses to the events of life.
  • Based on our thoughts and emotions, we eventually make decisions. In each of life’s events, we have emotions, thoughts, desires, and eventually actions. It is the expression of that process that we call self-revelation.
  • I have observed two basic personality types. The first I call the “Dead Sea.” This personality type receives many experiences, emotions, and thoughts throughout the day. They have a large reservoir where they store that information, and they are perfectly happy not to talk.
  • On the other extreme is the “Babbling Brook.” For this personality, whatever enters into the eye gate or the ear gate comes out the mouth gate and there are seldom sixty seconds between the two. Whatever they see, whatever they hear, they tell. In fact, if no one is at home to talk to, they will call someone else.
  • The good news is that Dead Seas can learn to talk and Babbling Brooks can learn to listen. We are influenced by our personality but not controlled by it.
  • One way to learn new patterns is to establish a daily sharing time in which each of you will talk about three things that happened to you that day and how you feel about them. I call that the “Minimum Daily Requirement” for a healthy marriage. If you will start with the daily minimum, in a few weeks or months you may find quality conversation flowing more freely between you.
  • In addition to the basic love language of quality time, or giving your spouse your undivided attention, there is another dialect called quality activities.
  • Quality activities may include anything in which one or both of you have an interest. The emphasis is not on what you are doing but on why you are doing it. The purpose is to experience something together, to walk away from it feeling “He cares about me. He was willing to do something with me that I enjoy, and he did it with a positive attitude.” That is love, and for some people it is love’s loudest voice.
  • The essential ingredients in a quality activity are: (1) at least one of you wants to do it, (2) the other is willing to do it, and (3) both of you know why you are doing it—to express love by being together.
  • One of the by-products of quality activities is that they provide a memory bank from which to draw in the years ahead.
  • Those are memories of love, especially for the person whose primary love language is quality time.
  • The chapter ends with a helpful application section called “Your Turn”.

Next week we will cover the third love language Receiving Gifts. Won’t you join us?


We can be sure our prayers are answered precisely in the way we would want them to be answered if we knew everything God knows. -Tim Keller

 When I see Thee as Thou art, I’ll praise Thee as I ought. -John Newton

Charles Spurgeon



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7.8.2014 Coram Deo ~ Living Life Before the Face of God



  • Good friend Jim Lauher (who I have known since high school, but have gotten to know much better recently) has joined our friends Ed and Diane Quijano in the band Wagon Load A Trouble. They played their first gig together at the Farmer’s Market in downtown Bloomington on July 5. Check out where the band will be playing next at the band’s Facebook site.   Love that western swing!



  • Fernando Ortega’s previous label will be releasing a Greatest Hits album on August 5th. The album will include 15 songs from the Hymns of Worship, Storm, This Bright Hour, The Breaking of the Dawn and Home albums. This would be a great way to introduce someone to Fernando’s wonderful music.
  • LecraeLecrae’s new song “Nuthin” “is a clarion call to the rap industry and its consumer about the empty nature of the genre.” The song was released last week and is from his upcoming album Anomaly, which will be released in August. Listen to it here:
  • The Peter Furler Band and Petra will both be appearing on the Lincoln Stage at the Illinois State Fair on Sunday, August 17. Petra will appear from 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm and the Peter Furler Band from 8:00 pm – 9:00 pm. Here is the complete schedule for the Lincoln Stage:
  • Christianity Today profiles 33 under 33 years of age. Rapper Trip Lee is first on their list. Read more here.



Killing Patton by Bill O'ReillyBOOKS:


The 5 Love Languages Book Club Week Two

Tammy and I completed week two of our summer book club of Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to a Love that Lasts last week. We covered the first love language, Words of Affirmation. Here are a few passages we highlighted:5 love

  • One way to express love emotionally is to use words that build up.
  • Verbal compliments, or words of appreciation, are powerful communicators of love.
  • The object of love is not getting something you want but doing something for the well-being of the one you love. It is a fact, however, that when we receive affirming words we are far more likely to be motivated to reciprocate and do something our spouse desires.
  • Giving verbal compliments is only one way to express words of affirmation to your spouse. Another dialect is encouraging words.
  • The latent potential within your spouse in his or her areas of insecurity may await your encouraging words.
  • Life’s deepest meaning is not found in accomplishments but in relationships.
  • Perhaps your spouse has untapped potential in one or more areas of life. That potential may be awaiting your encouraging words.
  • Encouragement requires empathy and seeing the world from your spouse’s perspective. We must first learn what is important to our spouse. Only then can we give encouragement.
  • Of course, encouraging words may be difficult for you to speak. It may not be your primary love language. It may take great effort for you to learn this second language. That will be especially true if you have a pattern of critical and condemning words, but I can assure you that it will be worth the effort.
  • Love is kind. If then we are to communicate love verbally, we must use kind words.
  • Sometimes our words say one thing, but our tone of voice says another.
  • Our spouse will usually interpret our message based on our tone of voice, not the words we use.
  • Forgiveness is the way of love. I am amazed by how many individuals mess up every new day with yesterday. They insist on bringing into today the failures of yesterday and in so doing, they pollute a potentially wonderful day.
  • The best thing we can do with the failures of the past is to let them be history.
  • Forgiveness is not a feeling; it is a commitment. It is a choice to show mercy, not to hold the offense up against the offender. Forgiveness is an expression of love.
  • Love makes requests, not demands. When I demand things from my spouse, I become a parent and she the child.
  • When you make a request of your spouse, you are affirming his or her worth and abilities. You are in essence indicating that she has something or can do something that is meaningful and worthwhile to you. When, however, you make demands, you have become not a lover but a tyrant. Your spouse will feel not affirmed but belittled.
  • To know that my spouse loves me enough to respond to one of my requests communicates emotionally that she cares about me, respects me, admires me, and wants to do something to please me. We cannot get emotional love by way of demand. My spouse may in fact comply with my demands, but it is not an expression of love. It is an act of fear or guilt or some other emotion, but not love.
  • Thus, a request creates the possibility for an expression of love, whereas a demand suffocates that possibility.
  • Words of affirmation is one of the five basic love languages. Within that language, however, there are many dialects.
  • Psychologist William James said that possibly the deepest human need is the need to feel appreciated.
  • Words of affirmation will meet that need in many individuals.
  • The love language of one person is not necessarily the love language of another.

Each chapter ends with a helpful discussion question.

Next week we will cover the second love language, Quality Time. Won’t you join us?

Integrating Faith and Work:


Integrating Faith and Work Book Review:Kingdom Calling by Amy L. Sherman

  • Kingdom Calling: Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good by Amy L. Sherman, Reggie McNeal, Steven Garber

Theology Book Review:God and the Gay Christian - A Response to Matthew Vines

  • God and the Gay Christian? A Response to Matthew Vines. Edited by R. Albert Mohler Jr.

Duck Dynasty Book Reviews:The Duck Commander Family by Willie & Korie Robertson

  • The Duck Commander Family: How Faith, Family, and Ducks Built a Dynasty by Willie and Korie Robertson
  • Happy, Happy, Happy: My Life and Legacy as the Duck Commander by Phil Robertson with Mark Schlabach

Movie Reviews:

This week we look at two vastly different films:  Ernest & Celestine  and  Snowpiercer

Ernest & CelestineSnowpiercer

Mid-Year Best List

We are just over half way through 2014. Below are my tops in the music, books and movies categories thus far:

There have already been a number of excellent releases this year. However, in my mind, three have risen to the top. They are:

  • Neon Steeple – Crowder
  • Rivers in the Wasteland – NEEDTOBREATHE
  • Fading West – Switchfoot

Everyone’s a Theologian: An Introduction to Systematic Theology by R.C. Sproul

Edge of Tomorrow

What do you have as your favorites in these categories?







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Missions Insider Movements by Tammy Pence

I’ve been thinking about the Insider Movements in Missions, while also reading the biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. For a quick overview, here’s excerpts from “Insider Movements And the Busted Church” by Bill Nikides, as published in Modern Reformation Magazine:

Maybe you haven’t heard, but the most explosive issue in global missions within the evangelical church today is something called “Insider Movements.” Insider Movements (IM) are variously defined as “popular movements to Christ that bypass both formal and explicit expressions of Christian religion” (Kevin Higgins, “The Key to Insider Movements,” Internal Journal of Frontier Missiology, Winter 2004). Another definition Higgins offers is that they are “movements to Jesus that remain to varying degrees inside the social fabric of Islamic, Buddhist, Hindu, or other people groups.” In other words, as John Ridgeway of the Navigators relates, Insider Movements advocate “becoming faithful disciples of Jesus within the culture of their people group, including religious culture.”

Insiders are those who profess faith in Christ but remain members of their original religious communities; Muslims remain Muslims, Hindus remain Hindus, and Buddhists remain Buddhists. In the Muslim world that means they must acknowledge one exclusive God, Allah, and that Mohammed is his final and greatest messenger. They remain members of the mosque, practice the five pillars of Islam, live openly in their cultures as Muslims, participate in Muslim sacrifices and feasts, and identify themselves as Muslims.

German Christian flagDietrich Bonhoeffer was struggling with the German Christians, which were an anti-Semitic movement within German Protestantism aligned towards Nazism with the goal to align German Protestantism as a whole towards those principles. They sought to expunge all Jewish elements from the Christian church. In a process that became more daring as Nazi plans for genocide unfolded, this group of Protestant lay people and clergy rejected the Old Testament, ousted people defined as non-Aryans from their congregations, denied the Jewish ancestry of Jesus, etc. So what does this have to do with the Insider Movement?

When someone asked Dietrich Bonhoeffer whether he shouldn’t join the German Christians in order to work against them from within, he answered that he couldn’t. “If you board the wrong train,” he said, “it is no use running along the corridor in the opposite direction.”

This struck me as the correct response to the Insider Movements – I don’t think you can worship Allah as God and disavow Jesus as the Son of God in your social/cultural life, but yet bow to the Triune God of the Bible in your heart.

Your thoughts and comments are welcome.




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Tomorrow’s July already? The days are starting to get shorter? Nah.

For the past several years I’ve gone to a Milwaukee Brewers game with my brother and a few of his friends. It’s always a nice time. This past week on our annual trip we saw the Brewers beat up on the Washington Nationals. Of course, since the Brewers are in first place ahead of my Cardinals, I had to cheer for the Nationals (but to no avail). Here’s a picture I took from just behind the foul pole before the game, which gives you a good idea of what Miller Park looks like:Miller Park

RaviniaLogoHave you ever been to Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, IL? What a wonderful venue for a music concert! We recently went to hear James Taylor, and you can see some photos and read more about it at




  • Singer/songwriter John Hiatt will release Terms of Surrender on July 15. The title song can be purchased now at iTunes.
  • Michael Card has a song included on the new album Uncle Donald’s Niagra Brand Tonic Elixer. The song is “Lo! and Behold!” Here’s a link to the album on
  • I recently saw that Trip Lee, Reach Records rapper is serving as a Pastoral Assistant at Capitol Hill Baptist Church where Mark Dever is Senior Pastor. Trip is in the process of recording his follow-up to 2012’s The Good Life.


World Magazine Cartoon


  • The MLJ Trust announces a daily sermon podcast of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. You can sign up for the Podcast by either clicking on the following link MLJ Podcast, or going to the lower right section of the sermons page on the website: MLJ Sermons. They will be starting with Romans, and one of the best MLJ sermons on the Apostle Paul, called, simply, “A Man Called Paul”.
  • Dr. Don Kistler recently returned from northern California where he preached five messages on the doctrine of the church. The messages are: 1. Why Is the Church Important? 2. Christ’s Faithfulness to His Church 3. Mutual Ministry 4. Protecting the Flock 5. Church Growth, God’s Way The messages are available at the website of Christ the Redeemer Presbyterian Church of Eureka, California at:











There is no better test as to whether a man is really preaching the New Testament gospel of salvation than the fact that some people might misunderstand it and misinterpret it to mean that it really amounts to this–that because you are saved by grace alone it does not matter at all what you do, that you can go on sinning as much as you like because it will abound all the more to the glory of grace. That is a very good test of gospel preaching. If my preaching and presentation of the gospel of salvation does not expose it to that misunderstanding, then it is not the gospel.   -D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (listen to 1,600 sermons from Lloyd-Jones at

Quotable -Tweeted by Dr. Albert Mohler
“Mr. Whitefield, don’t flatter them, I fear that half of them are going to hell with their eyes open.”–said by a pastor to George Whitefield

God doesn’t invite people to be saved. He commands them. -RC Sproul

The reason God knows the future is because he plans the future and accomplishes it. -John Piper


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  • NEEDTOBREATHE recently released the official video for “Multiplied”, one of my favorite songs off of their chart-topping album Rivers in the Wasteland. It was recently filmed in Nashville. You can watch it here:
  • Recently, Tammy and our brother in law Al were talking about some of the all-time great albums. Some that came up were Rumours by Fleetwood Mac, the debut album by Boston, Frampton Comes Alive by Peter Frampton, Thriller and Off the Wall by Michael Jackson. I’ll add Abbey Road and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band from the Beatles, Born to Run from Bruce Springsteen and Tapestry from Carole King. What about 21 from Adele? What albums would you add to this list? Let us know.
  • U2 leader Bono was given a humanitarian award at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. The festival presented the rock star with its inaugural Cannes LionHeart award, which recognizes a person or organization “that, through innovative use of commercial brand power, has made a significant and positive difference to people or the planet.” Read more here:
  • Amy Grant’s 1991 hit “Baby, Baby” has been amped up and reimagined for the singer’s first-ever album of remixes. “In Motion: The Remixes” will be released August 19 on Sparrow Records, and is slated to include other Grant pop classics like “That’s What Love Is For” and “Every Heartbeat.” Ready about the new album and listen to the remix of “Baby Baby” (which is actually pretty good), here.Paul Mc


Desiring God -                          

  • The 2014 Desiring God National Conference will be held September 26–28 in Minneapolis. It will be the twelfth and final fall conference as we have known them. Desiring God is calling it Look at the Book: Reading the Bible for Yourself. John Piper will do five sessions, modeling Look at the Book from Romans 8 and unfolding the biblical foundations and fruit of seeing the Bible in this way. Jerry Bridges, Nancy Guthrie, Ben Stuart, and others have agreed to come and speak on topics related to personal Bible reading. Registration is only $150 if you register by July 25. Read more here and watch the trailer for the conference here:
  • Here’s a helpful article on evangelism from Desiring God titled “Are You Too Christian for Non-Christians?” Read it here:
  • Jon Bloom, in his article “Jesus Wants You to be You”, writes: “God had you specifically in mind when he created you and called you to follow him. You are custom-designed for your calling. But when you face the difficulty of your calling, you may look at others and be tempted to wonder why they don’t seem to bear the same burdens you do”. Read the entire article here:
  • In Jon Bloom’s article “This May Push You Over the Edge”, he references John Piper’s sermon on suffering “Live to Die,” with his primary text being Colossians 1:24. Bloom encourages us to listen to the message, not just to read the transcript. He says that it will shake us, that it gets to the core what it means to live as a Christian in this age. It is not a comfortable message.
  • John Piper continues looking at the ten most highlighted passages – this time Philippians 4:13 – in this article entitled “The Secret in Every Circumstance”. Read the article and watch the 3-minute video here:

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 5 loveThe 5 Love Languages Book Club Week One

Tammy and I started our summer book club of Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to a Love that Lasts last week. We covered the introductory chapters. Here are a few passages we highlighted:

  • With all the help available from media experts, why is it that so few couples seem to have found the secret to keeping love alive after the wedding?
  • The problem is that we have overlooked one fundamental truth: People speak different love languages.
  • We must be willing to learn our spouse’s primary love language if we are to be effective communicators of love.
  • My conclusion after thirty years of marriage counseling is that there are five emotional love languages—five ways that people speak and understand emotional love.
  • In the field of linguistics a language may have numerous dialects or variations. Similarly, within the five basic emotional love languages, there are many dialects.
  • The important thing is to speak the love language of your spouse.
  • Seldom do a husband and wife have the same primary emotional love language. We tend to speak our primary love language, and we become confused when our spouse does not understand what we are communicating.
  • Among those emotional needs, none is more basic than the need for love and affection, the need to sense that he or she belongs and is wanted.
  • We needed love before we “fell in love,” and we will need it as long as we live.
  • The need to feel loved by one’s spouse is at the heart of marital desires.
  • I am convinced that keeping the emotional love tank full is as important to a marriage as maintaining the proper oil level is to an automobile.
  • WARNING: Understanding the five love languages and learning to speak the primary love language of your spouse may radically affect his or her behavior. People behave differently when their emotional love tanks are full.
  • We have been led to believe that if we are really in love, it will last forever. Unfortunately, the eternality of the in-love experience is fiction, not fact.
  • After studying scores of couples, she concluded that the average life span of a romantic obsession is two years.
  • Once the experience of falling in love has run its natural course (remember, the average in-love experience lasts two years), we will return to the world of reality and begin to assert ourselves.
  • Some couples believe that the end of the in-love experience means they have only two options: resign themselves to a life of misery with their spouse, or jump ship and try again. Our generation has opted for the latter, whereas an earlier generation often chose the former.
  • Our most basic emotional need is not to fall in love but to be genuinely loved by another, to know a love that grows out of reason and choice, not instinct.
  • That kind of love requires effort and discipline. It is the choice to expend energy in an effort to benefit the other person, knowing that if his or her life is enriched by your effort, you too will find a sense of satisfaction—the satisfaction of having genuinely loved another. It does not require the euphoria of the in-love experience. In fact, true love cannot begin until the in-love experience has run its course.
  • Love is the attitude that says, “I am married to you, and I choose to look out for your interests.”
  • How do we meet each other’s deep, emotional need to feel loved? If we can learn that and choose to do it, then the love we share will be exciting beyond anything we ever felt when we were infatuated.

Each chapter ends with a helpful discussion question.

Next week we will cover the first love language Words of Affirmation. Won’t you join us?

 Integrating Faith and Work

  • Check out this article “God’s Will and Your Job”, from R.C. Sproul:
  • Being a leader is about creating a way for people to contribute in order to make something extraordinary happen. Nancy Ortberg discusses two simple ways in which leaders can do this to humanize work. First, she explores the ways God reminds us to look in small places for great things. Second, she tackles the importance of workplace conflict and the need for giving feedback to those we respect. Check out her talk titled “Humanizing Work Through Leadership” here:


Book Reviews:

Movie Reviews:

  • Jersey Boys
  • Lone Survivor


We can put it this way–the man who has faith is the man who is no longer looking at himself and no longer looking to himself. He no longer looks at anything he once was. He does not look at what he is now. He does not even look at what he hopes to be as the result of his own efforts. He looks entirely to the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished work, and rests on that alone. He stops saying, ‘Ah yes, I used to commit terrible sins but now I have done this and that.’ If he goes on saying that, he has not got faith. Faith speaks in an entirely different manner and makes a man say, ‘Yes I have sinned grievously, I have lived a life of sin, yet I know that I am a child of God because I am not resting on any righteousness of my own; my righteousness is in Jesus Christ and God has put that to my account.’

-D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (listen to 1,600 sermons from Lloyd-Jones at



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Summertime, and the livin’ is easy…



• The faith based film Alone Yet Not Alone is showing at the Carmike Theatre at Grand Prairie in Peoria. You might want to catch it this week as it may not be held over after Thursday.
Duck Dynasty fans already know this, but for the rest of you, season 6 began on June 11 on A&E.
Ligonier Ministries has made the audio and video of all sessions at their recent West Coast Conference available. Check them out here:

Ligonier West Coast Conference



  • The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman is one of those best-selling Christian books that I had not read. Not sure why, but I finally listened to the audiobook a few weeks ago. That was about the same time that Tammy suggested we do a book or Bible study over the summer. I suggested reading and discussing The Five Love Languages. We’re starting today! Why not considering doing the same with someone you love?
  • This year, World Magazine, instead of having one Book of the Year, chose an outstanding title in each of three categories—popular theology, history, and analysis. Two more in each category are runners-up, and they also spotlighted a book that doesn’t fit in those categories but deserves special recognition. Read more here:
  • Desiring God announces their latest e-book, Good: The Joy of Christian Manhood and Womanhood, which is available in three formats, free of charge. Desiring God has teamed up with the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood to produce a multi-contributor volume that aims at a fresh articulation of God’s good design in creating men and women. This new resource — the collaboration of 14 contributors — seeks to cast a vision for manhood and womanhood that is rooted more in beauty than mere ideology, more in gladness than mere position. Read more here:
  • Cal Thomas was recently the guest on Steve Brown’s excellent podcast Steve Brown, etc. He was talking about his new book: What Works: Common Sense Solutions for America, a book that is on my reading list. Check out the interview here:



Integrating Faith and Work
Here is a link to a condensed version of a paper I wrote on my vocation as a leader in the Calling, Vocation and Work course I took at Covenant Seminary in the summer of 2013. Calling Vocation & Work-condensed PDF

Bucket List Updates
Looks like I’m going to be knocking two items off of my bucket list over the next several months:
• See Ringo Starr in concert. The former Beatles’ drummer will be in concert at the Fabulous Fox Theatre in St. Louis in early October. I’m excited to finally see him in concert with his All-Starr Band, which this tour features Todd Rundgren and former members of Toto, Santana, Mr. Mister and Billy Joel’s and Don Henley’s bands. We’ll also be seeing Paul McCartney, the only other surviving Beatle, in concert this summer, so it will be quite the nostalgic year. Yeah, yeah, yeah!

Visit Israel with Michael Card as guide. After a lot of prayer, Tammy and I made the decision that I would register for the Journey Through Israel with Michael Card: 11 Day – Life of Christ trip, January 1-11, 2015. Read more details about the trip:

Book Reviews
The Noticer Returns: Sometimes You Find Perspective, and Sometimes Perspective Finds You by Andy Andrews
The Captain: The Journey of Derek Jeter by Ian O’Connor
Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Makes You Free by Tullian Tchividjian

Theology and Misc. Book Reviews
• By Grace Alone: How the Grace of God Amazes Me by Sinclair Ferguson
• Indescribable: Encountering the Glory of God in the Beauty of the Universe by Louie Giglio and Matt Redman
• For Calvinism by Michael Horton
• How the Gospel Brings Us All the Way Home by Derek W. H. Thomas
• Twelve Unlikely Heroes: How God Commissioned Unexpected People in the Bible and What He Wants to Do with You by John MacArthur
• The Disappearance of God: Dangerous Beliefs in the New Spiritual Openness by Albert Mohler
• The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming by Henri J.M. Nouwen
• Who Am I? Identity in Christ by Jerry Bridges

Movie Reviews
• How to Train Your Dragon 2
• Belle

Music Review
• iTunes Session – Crowder

(Imagine this as an episode of the TV Show Frasier)

So I’m sitting at the computer in my pajamas, trying to buy an online ticket to an event, and here’s what happened over the last 30 minutes:
• I get to the ‘5 minutes left to make your purchase’ page, and Molly, our dog, frantically has to go outside.
• We just got new credit cards, and I keep getting ‘problem processing your credit card’.
• In the meantime, I also have to use the ladies room.
• Then I hear knocking on the patio door – it’s the men that cut our grass and they want Molly out of the backyard.
• She’s barking – running – acting goofy. Meanwhile I’m in my PJ’s with no foundation garment on trying to round her up.
• Back to the computer – I’ve accidentally chosen too many tickets, and have to figure out how to edit that.
• In the meantime, the 5 minutes has expired.
• Starting the process over again, I’m STILL having trouble with the credit card (they said the new card wasn’t activated, even though I KNOW I called the 1-800 number and took off the sticker).
• I switch to paying with the debit card and FINALLY purchase the ticket.
• Immediately I go to my bank’s website to transfer money to cover the debit card purchase – from savings to checking. Too late! Overdraft transfer fee. Ugh!
• I topped it all off with a phone call to the visa card company to find out why my card wouldn’t work. And what do I receive for my trouble? An endless list of security questions!
So, honey, what did you do with your day today?
You are either a Christian or you are not a Christian; you cannot be partly a Christian. –Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Quotable ~ From “At the Cross” by Chris Tomlin
At the cross
At the cross
I surrender my life.
I’m in awe of You
I’m in awe of You
Where Your love ran red
and my sin washed white.
I owe all to You
I owe all to You Jesus.


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