Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

Leave a comment

Brrrrrrr !!!

Early Bird Pricing for Michael Card’s Matthew: The Gospel of Identity Conference and Concert ends FEBRUARY 25!
Click below for a larger version:

Just a reminder that early bird pricing for Michael Card’s April 25-26 conference on the gospel of Matthew at Christ Church and his April 27 concert at East White Oak Bible Church ends February 25.

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.

Please write me at if you have any questions about these events.

Matthew - St. Andrews CommentaryRecommended Resource

To prepare for Michael Card’s conference on the gospel of Matthew, I’m reading R.C. Sproul’s St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary on Matthew. This book contains the written version of 128 sermons on Matthew that Sproul delivered at his home church of St. Andrews in Sanford, Florida, where he has been pastor since 1997. This volume is part of a series of books containing Sproul’s sermons from Saint Andrews. The sermons are very easy to read and can be used for devotional reading.


Concert Review of Fernando Ortega at First Baptist Church in Pekin

Movie Review of August: Osage County

The Leadership Library ~ The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be by Andy Stanley

Leadership Book Club


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 Timing: When to Lead Is As Important at What to Do and Where to Go
  • The Law of Explosive Growth: To Add Growth, Lead Followers – To Multiply, Lead Leaders



Read about Joni’s reaction to the Oscar nomination here:

  • writes “When Calls The Heart is a beautiful, exciting TV series about a wealthy young woman who comes to teach in an isolated coal-mining town in 1910 Canada. The first episode, “Lost and Found,” is absolutely beautiful and very entertaining, with a strong Christian, moral worldview and no objectionable content. Read more here:
  • In Christian movie news from Men of A.I.M. –
    • Gimme Shelter opened 1/24 at Carmike Grand Prairie 18.  Incredible pro-life film that also addresses the pain these decisions can cause in men looking back on these decisions, but the focal point is on a Christian shelter for pregnant teenagers providing a family to one another.  Read this article from World magazine about the film:
    • Ragamuffin: The True Rich Mullins Story:  Recently added a SECOND showing in the Peoria region.  Now playing February 3 at Eureka College and February 23 at Riverside Community Church.  (click locations to purchase tickets)
    • A Kewanee actress is in a film The Current that plays one night only February 6 at Carmike Grand Prairie.  They have already sold out one theater so we got bumped to a larger room – 44 seats left!  Buy The Current Tix here.
    • Oscar Nominee:  The title song from Alone Yet Not Alone sung by Joni Eareckson Tada has been nominated for Best Original Song – much to the surprise and disappointment of many in the industry.  We hope to see this film open in Peoria June 13, but need several hundred tickets sold to do so.  It’s a film based on a true story from during the French & Indian War in 1755.  BUY tickets to Alone Yet Not Alone here
  • You may have seen or heard about Blackfish, the controversial documentary that is critical of Sea World. This has led several music artists, including Willie Nelson and the Beach Boys, to back out of commitments to perform at Sea World. Recently, the family of the trainer who was killed by a killer whale at Sea World distanced themselves from the documentary. Read more here:,0,6739959.story
  • The 56th Grammy Awards were presented on January 26. Congratulations to Mandisa who won Best Contemporary Christian Album for Overcomer, as well as the Best Contemporary Christian Music Song for “Overcomer”.  See all the winners here:
  • “Invisible”, a new song from U2, will be available for a free download on February 2, Super Bowl Sunday. Read more here:

Leave a comment

Lots of Good Things to Read Today

Let’s talk about work and leadership for a minute….

Leadership Philosophies ~ What should be your approach to work? Read John Piper’s Lord-Focused Living at Work

Trust worksWant to build trust in your relationships?  Read the Book Review in the Leadership Library of Trust Works! Four Keys to Building Lasting Relationships by Ken Blanchard, Cynthia Olmstead and Martha Lawrence.

Leadership Book Club
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 Priorities
• The Law of Sacrifice

OK, enough of the work stuff, let’s talk books, movies, music, etc.!

Still Foolin Em'Book Reviews ~ If you need a good laugh, listen to Still Foolin’ ‘Em: Where I’ve Been, Where I’m Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys? by Billy Crystal, who also reads the audiobook. Just so you know, Billy likes to use some ‘blue’ language.

Jack RyanMovie Review ~ Go see Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, rated PG-13, for some fun action-adventure.

This and That
• Respected evangelist/theologian Ravi Zacharias spoke to 3,500 at the Latter Day Saints Tabernacle in Salt Lake City on January 18. He was accompanied by music artist Fernando Ortega. Read this article to hear what he spoke about:

• The Passion 2014 Atlanta Conference was held in Atlanta January 17-18, with over 20,000 university students attending the two-day event from around the world. Students from over 1,200 universities and 33 countries attended this year’s Passion conference in Atlanta. Joining Passion founders Louie and Shelley Giglio in Atlanta was John Piper, Christine Caine, and Francis Chan. Grammy award winning artists and worship leaders Chris Tomlin and Matt Redman, led worship, along with David Crowder, Kristian Stanfill, Christy Nockels and Hillsong United. The live album should be released in early March. Read more here:

• John Piper recently spoke for the eighteenth time at the Passion conference. Desiring God has collected four of Piper’s pivotal messages from the Passion conferences, including “Boasting Only in the Cross” and three others — into a new free ebook. Read about how to download at An All-Consuming Passion for Jesus: Appeals to the Rising Generation.

• I enjoyed this article titled “100,000 Hours: Eight Aims for Your Work by Marshall Segall posted on the Desiring God site. Read it here:

• The Store recently announced that it was closing. Read more here:

• My favorite blogger is Tim Challies. He also posts interesting articles and the best Kindle deals of the day. Sign up for his blog at

• Dr. Steven Lawson, a Ligonier Teaching Fellow, was recently interviewed and asked to give an impromptu gospel presentation. Check it out here:

• The latest addition to WORLD News Group’s Saturday lineup is Listening In, an exciting new radio program hosted by Warren Cole Smith and featuring newsmakers and thought leaders. “It is unlike anything on Christian radio,” Smith said. “It’s more like NPR’s Fresh Air or public television’s Charlie Rose, but without those programs’ liberal bias.” Warren’s first guest is Molly Worthen, author of Apostles of Reason, a history of American evangelicalism just published by Oxford University Press. Listen to streaming audio of the debut airing of Listening In.

• Eric Metaxas recently announced that the video of his interview of Malcolm Gladwell at Socrates in the City is now up for viewing. Check it out here:

• The ESV bible (some of us would call it the Extra Special Version); recently sold its one millionth copy. Read the article here:

• Dan Brown’s Inferno was the top selling book of 2013. Check out more at:

• The Academy Awards nominations were announced on January 16. Read the article below to see who was nominated and who was snubbed:

• As awards season continues, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards presentation was held on January 18. Read about the winners here:

• Actor Kirk Cameron recently announced his new movie, Mercy Rule. It’s his first non-documentary movie since 2008’s Fireproof and will also star comedian Tim Hawkins. The film is about family, faith and baseball. Sounds like a winner to me. Read more here:

Lemonade• Longtime favorite, the very talented Charlie Peacock, recently released a piano improvisations album, Lemonade. It debuted at #1 on the iTunes Jazz chart. Congratulations Charlie!

• Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr will be among the performers at the Grammy Awards on January 26. Read more here:

• The Eagles re-opened the renovated “Fabulous Forum” in Los Angeles January 15. Wish you were there?

• Some U2 news to report:
• There’s been some buzz about a new song called ‘Invisible’, a track the band will be releasing as part of an initiative with RED, to support the fight against AIDS. The band has been shooting the video for the song in L.A.
• At the 71st Golden Globe Awards in Los Angeles, the band took home the award for ‘Best Original Song’ for ‘Ordinary Love’. All four band members accepted the award, for the song they wrote for Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.
• Speaking of “Ordinary Love”, the band recently released a new video for the song. You can view it here:

• Here’s a lighthearted look at some popular Bible translations compliments of

Leave a comment

Listen to the new Switchfoot for free!

Chart-topping Fading West by Switchfoot streaming free on New Release

Switchfoot’s brand new Fading West album, which debuted at #1 on iTunes on Tuesday, is streaming free in its entirety this week at:

Check out our review of this exciting new project by the band, posted January 15.

Leave a comment

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.