Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

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April 1, 2014


Reflections on my time at Covenant Theological Seminary

I’m Currently Reading….

Book Review: Double Play by Ben and Julianna Zobrist with Mike Yorkey

Leadership Library – Books by John Maxwell:  Home Run: Learn God’s Game Plan for Life and Leadership by Kevin Myers and John C. Maxwell

Movie Reviews: 12 Years a Slave, Noah, The Grand Budapest Hotel

Music Review: Hymns by Michael W. Smith



  • Just two days after announcing it would hire Christians in same-sex marriages, World Vision U.S. has reversed its ground-breaking decision after weathering intense criticism from evangelical leaders. Read more here:
  • Check out this short article and two-minute video from Matt Chandler on how to fill your life with joy:
  • Tim Keller’s next book will be Prayer: The Essential Guide, which will be released November 4.Prayer by Tim Keller
  • And speaking of Tim Keller, he is the series editor of the new Cultural Renewal series. An upcoming book of interest is The Stories We Tell: How TV and Movies Long for and Echo the Truth. Author Mike Cosper shows how modern entertainment reveals humanity’s universal longing for redemption as he explores a variety of genres, influential films, and shows, ultimately teaching us how to engage with and evaluate what we watch. The book releases August 31.
  • The Northampton Press, the ministry of our friend Dr. Don Kistler, is making available a collection of sermons by the great Charles Spurgeon in e-book format. These sermons are all from the Song of Solomon, and are titled “The Fairest of Ten Thousand.” For the time being it is only available as an e-book. It is available now on Amazon and soon on Barnes and Noble and Kobo.



Left to themselves, no one will ever choose Christ.—RC Sproul

If the cross is not foolishness to the lost world then we have misrepresented the cross. —Steven Lawson

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Michael Card Weekend Conference and Concert in One Month!

MC_BI_Poster_NormalIL-page-001Christ Church, PCA in Normal, IL and East White Oak Bible Church are pleased to welcome back singer/songwriter, Bible teacher and author Michael Card for the Biblical Imagination Conference Matthew: The Gospel of Identity on April 25-26 and concert on April 27. The conference will be held at Christ Church and the concert at East White Oak Bible Church.

For over thirty years, Michael Card has endeavored to engage with the text of Scripture, whether through the writing of music, books, or in the context of the conference or classroom. The fruit of this approach is heard in well-known songs like “El Shaddai,” “Immanuel,” and more recently, “Come Lift Up Your Sorrows.” Through the course of releasing over thirty albums, twenty-two books, and performing countless concerts, he has invited listeners and readers to honestly wrestle with the Bible, seeking to grasp the meaning of the text with all their heart and mind.

A graduate of Western Kentucky University, Michael received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Biblical Studies. While at WKU, he met Dr. William Lane, who mentored him in an imaginative approach to studying the Bible. Michael went on to receive honorary PhD’s in Music and Christian Education from Whitfield Seminary and Philadelphia Biblical University. Michael lives in Franklin, Tennessee, where, with a group of close friends, he pursues racial reconciliation and neighborhood renewal. He and his wife, Susan, have four children.

The Biblical Imagination Conference is made up of four elements: commentary, music, on-site experience and community discussion.

 Michael writes: “Our approach is to engage the text (the Gospels) at the level of the informed imagination. This method takes seriously the impact of the fall on every dimension of human experience, including the fragmented and fallen way we listen to the Bible. How do we reconnect this rift between the heart and mind that was caused by the fall? As I understand it, only the imagination can bridge the gap. It is the means by which the Spirit begins to undo what was disintegrated by the fall. When we allow our imaginations to be recaptured by the Holy Spirit, the facts we know in our heads come to life in our hearts. This is why the Bible reaches out primarily to our imaginations, for by doing so the heart and mind become reengaged.”

But what does biblical imagination look like, you ask? How do we apply facts in our heads to aches in our hearts? What is missing in our understanding that leads to a more biblical response to the Spirit of God? Join us as we seek to reacquaint, inspire, and shape the Church with the life of Jesus imaginatively seen through the Scriptures.  

 The short promotional video and description of the conference will give you an idea of what to expect at the conference:



Tickets for the conference (which includes the concert) are just $58, and can be purchased at either church or at:

Tickets for the concert only are just $18, and can also be purchased at either church or at:

If you have any questions, or need additional information, please go to the conference site at: or contact Bill Pence at (309) 452-5438 or


Michael Card’s brand new newsletter The Card Community

Below is an excerpt:

The Biblical Imagination Series on the Gospels is almost complete. CDs and books are completed and in distribution on Luke, Mark and Matthew. Currently the John book is being edited by the great folks at Intervarsity Press and I am just finishing up the songs. It has been a long haul and it will be so rewarding to see them all together in a row. By the way, the video series from Israel produced by Day of Discovery is complete and available at our website. The concept with the Biblical Imagination Series is that you can go as deep as you choose to go. If you enjoy the music in light of your study of one of the Gospels, that’s great. But if you want to go deeper you can read the book or watch the video. If you want to go further still you can come to one of our weekend seminars which take place all over the country, indeed in many foreign countries. If you want to take a final step with the BI material you can choose to go to Israel with us in January. 2015. My dream has always been to walk with you as long as you feel called to dig. One of the wonderments of Scripture is that you can invest your lifetime in study and still only scratch the surface. Virtually everything I am doing now comes under the banner of BI. The only exceptions are fund raisers and private concerts.



On Saturday we would like to provide the Conference attendees with snacks during the morning and afternoon breaks.   We have lots of needs and hope you can help provide some of these items.Unless otherwise indicated, bring food items to the kitchen at Christ Church no later than 9:00 am on Saturday, April 26.

Here is the link for food and beverages:

Here is the link to volunteer to help with greeting, set up, clean up, etc.:




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From Putin to Gluten

Cartoon courtesy of World Magazine.


 New to the Leadership Library – The Traveler’s Gift by Andy Andrews and Next Generation Leader by Andy Stanley

New Movie Reviews

  • God’s Not Dead
  • Mr. Peabody and Sherman
  • Veronica Mars
  • Divergent

New Music Review – Sun and Shield by Peter Furler Band


Breaking News ~

All Tim Challies all the Time!


Music and Movie News


2014 Ligonier Ministries National Conference

Ligonier National ConferenceWe recently attended Ligonier Ministries National Conference in Orlando, something we have been blessed to do almost every year since 1997. It was a bit dicey getting out of town as we left in a snowstorm, with the plane having to be de-iced twice before we left. Once we got down there we had a great time with our friends Don and Angela Lusk, who were attending the conference for the first time.
Ligonier Conf. with Lusks
Below are recaps from each of the three days of the conference from Ligonier’s blog:

Here are social media highlights from the conference:

You can watch or listen to all of the messages from the conference FREE here:

R.C. Sproul released his new book on systemattheologian bookic theology Everyone’s a Theologian at the conference – the book sold out the first day! This is a fantastic book; look for a review soon.

The conference was again held at First Baptist Church in Orlando. The church will be going through a building/renovation program next year and will not be available for the 2015 conference. The 2015 Ligonier National Conference will be held February 19-21, 2015 at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort.

R.C. Quote



Quotable: You can tell who is being worshiped on Sunday morning in a given church by whom the service is attempting to please. – Michael Horton

Gluten Free Cartoon












Cartoon Submitted by Julie Pence

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What do you do when the power goes out? Keep preaching Christ.

  • Recently at the Shepherds’ Conference in Los Angeles held at Grace Church, mid sermon the power went out. The place went black with only emergency lights dimly shining in the cavernous brick auditorium.  What did John MacArthur do? He grabbed a flashlight and just kept on preaching. He didn’t flinch. He was unflappable.  He literally just kept going. His voice grew with intensity as he unpacked the covenant of redemption. Soon his voice was traveling powerfully to every corner of the room.  Dr. MacArthur just went on preaching Christ. In Spurgeon fashion he powerfully pleaded with pastors to preach Christ or stop preaching.


Derek Thomas

And you can read Mars Hill Church’s response here: of-advisors-accountability, which includes the comments “While not uncommon or illegal, this unwise strategy is not one we had used before or since, and not one we will use again.”


Tim Keller Book Reviews

  • The Father and Son (The Encounters with Jesus Series-IX) by Timothy Keller
  • The Mother of God (The Encounters with Jesus Series-X) by Timothy Keller


Music Reviews

  • Inlandia: The Remix Collection – Jars of Clay
  • 100 – KB (ep)

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March 5, 2014


Piper Book


  • The God Girl Bible and God Guy Bible, now available in the ESV translation, are devotional Bibles geared especially for teens (or some preteens). Hayley and Michael DiMarco, authors of several bestselling books for young men and women, have packed these Bibles with devotionals and book introductions alongside the Bible text. Both editions also include special prayers, a subject index, reading plans, a glossary of key words, and character profiles of men and women in the Bible.
  • Dave Ramsey will release Smart Money Smart Kids: Raising the Next Generation to Win with Money, written with his daughter Rachel Cruze, on April 22.Ramsey
  • Popular Mitford series author Jan Karon returns with a new novel on September 2: Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good. Here’s a description of the book: After five hectic years of retirement from Lord’s Chapel, Father Tim Kavanagh returns with his wife, Cynthia, from a so-called pleasure trip to the land of his Irish ancestors.
    While glad to be at home in Mitford, something is definitely missing: a pulpit. But when he’s offered one, he decides he doesn’t want it. Maybe he’s lost his passion.
    His adopted son, Dooley, wrestles with his own passion—for the beautiful and gifted Lace Turner, and his vision to become a successful country vet. Dooley’s brother, Sammy, still enraged by his mother’s abandonment, destroys one of Father Tim’s prized possessions. And Hope Murphy, owner of Happy Endings bookstore, struggles with the potential loss of her unborn child and her hard-won business.
    All this as Wanda’s Feel Good Café opens, a romance catches fire through an Internet word game, their former mayor hatches a reelection campaign to throw the bums out, and the weekly Muse poses a probing inquiry: Does Mitford still take care of its own?
    Millions of fans will applaud the chance to spend time, once more, in the often comic and utterly human presence of Jan Karon’s characters. Indeed, they have never been more sympathetic, bighearted, and engaging.
  • Steven LawsonLigonier Ministries has released a new teaching series on the attributes of God by Teaching Fellow Steven Lawson.  In the 16-part teaching series, The Attributes of God, Lawson articulates a biblical understanding of divine attributes and explores how a right understanding of God can affect every aspect of our lives. The series is available in both audio and video formats.

toby mac

  • tobyMac, Skillet, Lecrae, Capital Kings, Tedashii and We As Human will bring the Summer Shed Tour to St. Louis May 9 at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre for a 6:00 pm concert.
  • Jars of Clay will release Inlandia, the remix project March 4. Inland was one of my top albums of 2013.Jars of Clay
  • Ravinia in Highland Park announced their 2014 concert lineup on February 27. It’s my favorite place to see a concert, and like no other. We’ve seen James Taylor and John Hiatt there in the past.  JT returns for two dates this summer (June 26-27). Check out the entire schedule at:
  • And speaking of U2 and the Oscars, here is Benedict Cumberbatch  (among other things, the voice of the dragon in The Hobbit), photobombing U2 on the red carpet at the Oscars.



Reflections on My Covenant Seminary Classes with Scotty Smith

son of godMovie Review –  Son of God, rated PG-13

Book ReviewDoes Prayer Change Things? (Crucial Questions Series No. 3) by R.C. Sproulprayer

coveyNew to the Leadership Library The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey. Fifteenth Anniversary Edition. Audiobook read by Stephen R. Covey. 2004.

Quotable:  I am never better than when I am brought to lie at the foot of the cross. – George Whitefield