Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

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April 30, 2014 -Living every day under the gaze of God


  • Just a reminder that each Friday Ligonier Ministries offers $5 Friday. Several resources will be available for just $5 from12:01 a.m. — 11:59 p.m. Friday EST only at (internet orders only).
  • Ligonier Ministries Teaching Fellow Stephen Nichols writes about the elevation of youth over the elderly in the church in his article “Youth Driven Culture”. Read his article here:
  • Albert Mohler writes about John Piper’s moving closing message on Romans 9 at the recent Together for the Gospel Conference. You can read it here and also listen or watch Piper’s sermon:
  • John Piper recommends a new book on the doctrine of justification, and specifically on the New Perspective of Paul. Read more here:
  • Check out this article “Jesus is Better than Porn” about Jimmy Needham’s addiction to porn and hear a song he wrote about it:
  • Johnathan Parnell has a thought-provoking article on the Desiring God site about why homosexuality is not like other sins. Read it here:
  • A new e-book, God and the Gay Christian? A Response to Matthew Vines, has been published by Dr. Albert Mohler and four of his colleagues from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Read about it here in Dr. Mohler’s article titled: God, the Gospel and the Gay Challenge: A Response to Matthew Vines:
  • Alone Yet Not Alone will be released on 202 screens, including Peoria, on Father’s Day June 13th. The film played briefly in eleven markets last fall through nascent booking service Seatzy, garnering an exceptional per-screen average of $11,434. It then hit the news in February when it first received an Oscar nomination for its song “Alone, Yet Not Alone” sung by Joni Eareckson Tada, then subsequently lost the nomination due to allegations of unsanctioned lobbying.
  • Are you familiar with the Getty’s? Chances are you know their music, even if you don’t know their name. Keith and Kristyn Getty, along with Keith’s sometimes writing partner Stuart Townsend, are responsible for some of the best modern worship music written for the church, including “The Power of the Cross”, “In Christ Alone”, “By Faith”, “Hear the Call of the Kingdom”, “Come People of the Risen King”, “O Church Arise”, “My Heart is Filled with Thankfulness”, “Speak, O Lord”, and many more. Check out their website at
  • The 2014 Passion Conference album Passion: Take it All, is available for pre-order. It will be released on April 29, and features songs by Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, Crowder, Kristian Stanfill and Christy Nockels.Passion
  • And speaking of some new music, Reach Records is back with Below Paradise from Tedashii on May 27. The first single “Nothing I Can’t Do”, featuring Lecrae and Trip Lee is charting on both the Top Songs and Hip-Hop/Rap charts. Other guests on the new album include Andy Mineo, Britt Nicole, Derek Minor and Crowder.
  • Another new hip-hop/rap release is Crimson Cord from Propaganda, releasing on April 29, featuring guests such as Lecrae and Andy Mineo.
  • And how about one more new hip-hop/rap release? Flame returns with Jesus or Nothing on April 29,
  • Bruce Springsteen released a four song EP American Beauty on April 22. The cost on iTunes is just $3.99. Springsteen describes the songs as follows:

American Beauty - Bruce Springsteen“American Beauty is a collection of songs I cut at home. Upon revisiting them for High Hopes I recognized their potential and Ron Aniello and I worked on them until we’d turned them into the music before you. In the song “American Beauty,” I get to sing in a part of my range I don’t often visit and that along with its ‘guitar wall of sound’ gives it a little ‘exile on E Street’ power. “Mary Mary” is a lovely mystery, a small piece of heartbreak poetry that sneaks up on you with its slippery grove, punctuated string section and spectral lyrics. It came closest to making the High Hopes cut. “Hurry Up Sundown” is a fun piece of modern power pop, while “Hey Blue Eyes” rounds out the EP with one of my darkest political songs. Written during the Bush years, it’s a metaphor for the house of horrors our government’s actions created in the years following the invasion of Iraq. At its center is the repressed sexuality and abuse of power that characterized Abu Ghraib prison. I feel this is a shadow we as a country have yet to emerge from.”



  • A Summary of the Main Points from A Presentation of: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni
  • Getting Naked: A Business Fable about Shedding the Three Fears That Sabotage Client Loyalty by Patrick Lencioni
  • Visioneering: God’s Blueprint for Developing and Maintaining Vision by Andy Stanley


~ Reflections on Michael Card’s Biblical Imagination Conference and Concert ~

 After waiting more than two years for Michael Card and his team (Ron, Craig, Holly and Allie) to return to Christ Church for another Biblical Imagination Conference, the time finally came this past weekend. This time the conference was on the Gospel of Matthew and the title was Matthew: The Gospel of Identity.

The Biblical Imagination Series is made up of four elements: commentary, music, on-site experience and community discussion. Michael states that his approach is to engage the text of the Gospels at the level of the informed imagination. He states that 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.

The weekend began with a pastor’s lunch, hosted by the Quijano’s in their wonderful home. On the way out to their home, Michael told me that there was a recording session going on at that time for his new album on the Gospel of John back home in the Nashville area. He mentioned a song about the woman at the well (“All I’ve Ever Done”) that he was particularly excited about that he co-wrote with Ginny Owens, on which Owens will handle the vocals. At Sunday’s concert sound check, he played the recording of that song, as well as “Jesus Wept”. Michael’s best friend Scott Roley will also appear on the album which is due out, with the companion commentary, in July.

We had a great meal and fellowship and then Michael taught and addressed questions from the Gospel of Matthew.


Michael teaches on the Gospel of Matthew as Diane and Don listen intently at the Pastor’s Lunch on April 25.

Michael teaches on the Gospel of Matthew as Diane and Don listen intently at the Pastor’s Lunch on April 25.

The conference started on Friday night. It was wonderful seeing old friends that I had met at the Gospel of Mark Biblical Imagination Conference in March 2012, and also some wonderful friends who formerly attended Christ Church, but had since moved away. In all, nearly 100 attendees gathered to learn more about Matthew from Michael and apply what we learned from Craig. Attendees came from as far away as Ontario, Washington D.C., Ohio, Kentucky and Iowa. In addition, Contemporary Christian Music artist Todd Agnew attended the conference. He would later play a concert at a local church in town on Sunday evening.

During the conference Michael would play some music – worship songs, some of his old music and some music from his new album Matthew: The Penultimate Question.     As the conference opened, Michael took us through a historical context that we needed to know to truly understand Matthew. Craig’s application section included writing responses on colorful “Sticky Notes” and putting them on the church windows.

There were many things I learned throughout the conference. A few things that I wrote down and wanted to share with you are:

  •  A major theme of the conference was the concept of hesed, which is mentioned 250 times in the Old Testament and is at times translated as lovingkindness or mercy. Michael’s definition of hesed is “When the person from whom I have a right to expect nothing gives me everything”. Michael’s next book, which he believes will be his last, will be on hesed. He thinks that will take him 2-3 years to complete.
  • Michael stated that whenever we ask in the New Testament “Who am I”? it tells us who Jesus is.
  • The Gospel of Matthew is written to give the Jewish believers their identity.
  • I really appreciated Michael taking us through the New Testament era chronologically.
  • Michael stressed that we are not our gift. We are called to give ourselves away.
  • In reviewing the “Unmiraculous Miracles”, Michael states that the miracle is not the point, there is always another point.
  • Michael stated that we should always work at the level of our inadequacy.
  • Whereas we say “Amen” (a declaration of affirmation), at the end of a prayer, Jesus said it “Truly, Truly”, before making a statement.

The conference ended with Craig (a graduate of Covenant Seminary) teaching on the Beatitudes. We were challenged to rewrite Matthew 5:1-12 replacing the descriptions (“poor in spirit”, etc.) with what it looks like in our unique situations. The outcomes were to remain as it is God’s to determine. Then several of the attendees shared what they had written, which was a wonderful experience.   I particularly enjoyed visiting with many of the attendees throughout the conference and hearing of their joy in the conference.

IMG_1439Whether you attended the conference or not, I would recommend that you pick up Michael’s album and corresponding book, Matthew: The Gospel of Identity. And I would highly recommend you make plans to attend one of his Biblical Imagination Conferences in the future. I know I can’t wait for the conference on the Gospel of John.

On Sunday, Michael sang “Immanuel” with the Christ Church Choir and also “Come Lift Up Your Sorrows” at the early service and then sang “Come Lift Up Your Sorrows” and “Joy in the Journey” at the second service at East White Oak Bible Church. “Come Lift Up Your Sorrows” is Michael’s personal favorite of the 400+ songs that he has written and it has powerful lyrics.

If you are wounded, if you are alone,
If you are angry, if your heart is cold as stone,
If you have fallen and if you are weak,
Come find the worth of God
That only the suffering seek.

Come lift up your sorrows
And offer your pain;
Come make a sacrifice
Of all your shame;
There in your wilderness
He’s waiting for you
To worship Him with your wounds,
For He’s wounded too.

He has not stuttered, and He has not lied
When He said, “Come unto me, you’re not disqualified”
When your heavy laden, you may want to depart,
But those who know sorrow are closest to His heart.

In this most Holy Place
He’s made a sacred space
For those who will enter in
And trust to cry out to Him;
You’ll find no curtain there,
No reason left for fear;
There’s perfect freedom here
To weep every unwept tear.

I heard Michael play the song four times over the weekend and each time the lyrics seemed more powerful.IMG_1465

We enjoyed a wonderful pre-concert dinner at Destihl with Michael’s team and musician Chenoa Alamu, who has toured with him in the past, before enjoying a great concert with Michael and Chenoa that evening at East White Oak Bible Church.

What a wonderful weekend! It was a labor of love, and a joy to work with the Dream Team – Diane, Laurie, Nancy, Ed, Chris and Tammy. Many thanks to the countless volunteers who made everything possible. We are thankful for the partnership with Pastor Boerckel and the East White Oak Bible Church family. Thanks also to our friends at WBNH and WCIC.

Click on this link to view photos from the weekend:



Thomas à Kempis – If you will bear the cross, it will bear you.

“If Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for him.” Helen Roseveare, author of Give Me This Mountain, written in 1966, and He Gave Us a Valley, written in 1976.







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It’s Finally Here! Michael Card’s Biblical Imagination Conference and Concert

My Philosophy of Ministry

My final assignment at Covenant Seminary included the development of my philosophy of ministry. What does that mean? A simple way to describe it is… what are the guiding principles by which you make decisions in life and ministry? You can read more by clicking here:  Philosphy of Ministry – FINAL copy



  • Watch this short but challenging video from Francis Chan titled “Are You Boring?” here:
  •  Check out this video of St. Louis Cardinal slugger Matt Holliday discussing his faith in Christ:
  • R.C. Sproul writes what Reformed Theology means by the term “Total Depravity” in his article “How Sinful is Man?” Read it here:
  • Tim Challies has developed a helpful “Porn-Free Family Plan” to deal with desktop computers, laptops, tablets, Smart phones, etc. Check it out here:
  • One of my favorite days for the past several years has been attending the annual Leadercast learning event, hosted locally at Second Presbyterian Church in downtown Bloomington. The great folks of Second Presbyterian are wonderful hosts. Leadercast is a live event held in Atlanta, and then watched at many locations throughout the country. This year, the event is on Friday, May 9, and features two of my favorite leadership authors/speakers Andy Stanley and Malcom Gladwell, along with many other fine speakers. I can’t wait! To find out more and to purchase tickets, go to the Leadercast information page.
  • We recently watched and loved the three part series Arnie on The Golf Channel. I hope they replay it and you get a chance to see it yourself. Arnold Palmer was my Dad’s sports hero, and one of mine as well, as we have seen him many times at his Bay Hill Golf Club in Orlando and also when he was here in Bloomington, IL to play at the golf course he designed, The Den at Fox Creek. The series encouraged me to go back and read Arnie’s 1999 autobiography A Golfer’s LIfe, written with James Dodson, one of my favorite authors. Look for a review of that book in the coming weeks. Read about Arnie here:
  • Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, the boxer whose wrongful murder conviction became an international symbol of racial injustice, died April 20 at 76. Carter spent 19 years in prison for three murders at a tavern in Paterson, New Jersey, in 1966. He was convicted alongside his friend John Artis in 1967 and again in a new trial in 1976. Carter was freed in November 1985 when his convictions were set aside after years of appeals and public advocacy. His ordeal and the alleged racial motivations behind it were publicized in Bob Dylan’s 1975 song “Hurricane,” several books and a 1999 film starring Denzel Washington, who received an Academy Award nomination for playing the boxer turned prisoner.
  • A highlight of every day is reading a daily prayer from Scotty Smith, a favorite author of mine. I also had the pleasure of taking two of his classes at Covenant Seminary. You can sign up to receive Scotty’s prayers sent to you each day at A year’s worth of his prayers were compiled in his book Everyday Prayers.
  • Another highlight of each day is listening to my favorite podcast, The Briefing with Albert Mohler. This is a daily worldview analysis about the leading news headlines and cultural conversations. You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes and/or listen at
  • Each year, Barna Group partners with the American Bible Society on State of the Bible, a comprehensive study of Americans’ attitudes and behaviors toward the Bible. Asking a national representative sample of adults the same questions year after year allows us to track the country’s shifting perceptions of Scripture. This year’s research reveals six trends in Bible engagement: from the Bible’s continued role as a cultural icon, to increased digital Bible reading, to a rise in skepticism toward Scripture, particularly among Millennials. Read the entire story at:
  • This is an interesting article by Joseph Sunde – “Oprah, Rob Bell, And Faux Self-Empowerment For The Self-Centered”.  Read it here:




MOVIES – Reviews of Heaven is for Real

  • The film version of the popular book Heaven is for Real was released recently. My favorite blogger Tim Challies wrote a review of the book on his Informing the Reforming blog back in 2011. His final statement is “So reject this book. Do not read it. Do not believe it. And do not feel guilty doing so”. To read the entire review go here:
  • Randy Alcorn recently reviewed the movie version of Heaven is for Real. Read his review here:



  • Philip Bailey, lead singer of the band Earth, Wind and Fire has written a biography of the band titled Shining Star. I was never a big fan of Earth, Wind and Fire, but did enjoy the four gospel albums Bailey released between 1984 and 1991, so I plan to read his book. Bailey recently sat in with Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show Band Roots. Check out his website at
  • NEEDTOBREATHE will be in concert at the Pageant (at 6161 Delmar Blvd.) in St. Louis on Friday, June 13 at 7:00 pm playing songs from their new #1 album Rivers in the Wasteland. 
  • Desiring God recently featured hip-hop artist Propaganda (who has done some collaborations with Lecrae on his two Church Clothes albums), with his new single “Crimson Cord,” and a short interview – two minutes his explanation of the heart and idea behind “Crimson Cord.”


Just a reminder….. LAST CALL!

Matthew: The Gospel of Identity Biblical Imagination Conference to be Held at Christ Church April 25-26. Michael Card Concert to be held at East White Oak Bible Church April 27

Christ Church 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.

There are a few tickets left for the Friday night/Saturday conference and plenty for the Sunday night concert.

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

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

If you have any questions, or need additional information, please contact Bill Pence at (309) 452-5438 or





Michael Card Book Reviews

As we prepare for Michael Card’s Matthew: The Gospel of Identity Biblical Imagination Conference and Concert this weekend, we wanted to look back at a few of Michael’s previous books. Enjoy!

  • A Better Freedom – Finding Life as Slaves of Christ
  • A Fragile Stone: The Emotional Life of Simon Peter
  • Scribbling in the Sand: Christ and Creativity


SPORTS Book Reviews

  • Intentional Walk: An Inside Look at the Faith That Drives the St. Louis Cardinals by Rob Rains
  • Impact Player: Leaving a Lasting Legacy On and Off the Field by Bobby Richardson
  • The Match: The Day the Game of Golf Changed Forever by Mark Frost
  • One on One: Behind the Scenes with the Greats in the Game by John Feinstein
  • Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success by Phil Jackson and Hugh Delehanty
  • I Never Had It Made by Jackie Robinson







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Matthew: The Gospel of Identity Biblical Imagination Conference to be held at Christ Church April 25-26. Michael Card Concert to be held at East White Oak Bible Church April 27

Christ Church 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.

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 also be purchased at:

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

If you have any questions, or need additional information, please contact Bill Pence at (309) 452-5438 or









Bill’s Bucket List– This is my “Bucket List”, or a few of those things that I would still like to do before I ‘kick the bucket’:

  • Visit Israel with Michael Card as guide
  • See Ringo Starr in concert
  • Go skydiving
  • Go to the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach
  • Go to the Masters golf tournament at Augusta National
  • Travel internationally – Paris, London, Ireland, Scotland, etc.

We’d love to have you share your list with us!

Book Reviews

~ A Violent Grace: Meeting Christ at the Cross by Michael CardA Violent Grace

 ~ The Truth of the Cross by R.C. SproulThe Truth of the Cross

~ The Women of Duck Commander: Surprising Insights from the Women Behind the Beards About What Makes This Family Work by Kay Robertson, Korie Robertson, Missy Robertson, Jessica Robertson, Lisa Robertson with Beth Clarkwomen



Movie Review – Draft DayDraft Day

Courtesy of Christianity Today


Check out the updated QUOTES page and here’s a few more:

The only works of righteousness that serve to justify a sinner are the works of Christ. -R.C. Sproul

Do you know who you need to be saved from? You need to be saved from God. –   Voddie Baucham

The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul. -J.S. Bach




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WebLog Stardate 4.10.14

One Sunday morning, the pastor noticed Little Jeffy was staring up at the large plaque that hung in the foyer of the church. It was covered with names, and small American flags were mounted on either side of it. The seven-year old had been staring at the plaque for some time, so the pastor walked up, stood beside the boy, and said quietly, “Good morning, Little Jeffy.”

“Good morning, Pastor,” replied the young man, still focused on the plaque.

“Pastor Scott, what is this?” Little Jeffy asked.

“Well, son, it’s a memorial to all the young men and women who died in the service.” Soberly, they stood together, staring at the large plaque. Little Jeffy’s voice was barely audible when he asked, “Which service, the 8:30 or the 11:00?” (submitted by Jim Lauher)


Book ReviewWhen Work & Family Collide: Keeping Your Job from Cheating Your Family by Andy Stanley

Movie Reviews – Captain America; Inside Llewyn Davis

Music Review – Rivers in the Wasteland by NEEDTOBREATHE




  • Love to the UtmostLove to the Uttermost: Devotional Readings for Holy Week is designed for Lent 2014. The readings begin on Palm Sunday, end on Easter Sunday, and aim to focus our attention on Jesus as He displays his love to the uttermost (John 13:1). These meditations on the self-giving love of Christ are all excerpted from the preaching and writing ministry of John Piper. Love to the Utmost is available free in online versions, with a softcover option available for purchase. To find out more, go to:
  • Ligonier Ministries is offering the audiobook of R.C. Sproul’s excellent book The Truth of the Cross free during the month of April. To find out more, go to
  • And speaking of audiobooks, each month, on the first day of the month, offers a free audiobook. What Happens When Women Say Yes to God by Lysa Terkeurst is the free audiobook of the month for April. Lysa is the President of Proverbs 31 Ministries, a non-denominational, non-profit Christian ministry that seeks to lead women into a personal relationship with Christ.  What Happens When Women Say Yes to God is an audiobook that shares inspiring stories and compelling insights     about what it means to partner with God in all decisions and actions.



  • PBS recently did a feature on the New Calvinism, focusing on the Southern Baptist Convention. You can watch it here: The New Calvinism
  • John Piper asks “Do you have a view of God, and his severe mercy, that is robust and biblical enough to flourish with tearful joy, under heartbreaking losses, which he ordains as discipline?” Read his article entitled “Great Losses, Severe Mercies, Tearful Joy” here:
  • Recently, we heard about the launch of, the new site for all sermons, books, articles, and resources from Tim Keller, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, and Redeemer City to City. Check it out!



NoahCourtesy of World Magazine.



  • Ben Stuart leads Breakaway, a campus ministry at Texas A&M University. Over the past decade, Ben has taught the Bible every week to thousands of students in the throes of college life, often speaking practically into their sins and struggles. Check out this short video from Ben, building on the Book of James, how to overcome temptation:
  • Former NFL star Jim Kelly puts his faith in Jesus as he is battling a recurrence of cancer. Read more here:
  • More controversy for Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church. This time it’s over a new email deletion policy. Read more here:
  • David Letterman recently announced that he will be retiring in about a year. After Johnny Carson, Letterman was my favorite for a long time, and we were able to attend one of his shows on a visit to New York City a few years back. However, he has gotten increasingly political (liberal) and grumpy over the past few years and we recently switched over to Jimmy Fallon, who brings a youthful enthusiasm and creativity that the 66 year old Letterman once had. Here’s an article about Letterman’s announcement:
  • The little movie that could – God’s Not Dead, did another $.7.7 million in ticket sales this past weekend, finishing fourth in the nation and bringing its three week total to an amazing $32.5 million. To give you some perspective, Dallas Buyer’s Club, for which Matthew McConaughey won the Oscar for Best Actor and Jared Leto for Best Supporting Actor, has done $27.2 million in 23 weeks. 


  • The annual AgapeFest musical festival (4/26/14), sponsored by Greenville College is making some changes this year. After years of having the festival outside at the Bond County Fairgrounds, and often battling poor weather conditions, the festival is moving to the Family Arena in St. Charles, Missouri. The festival is also moving from two days to one day. Announced acts for the 2014 AgapeFest are Tenth Avenue North, Francesca Battistelli, Sanctus Real and The Afters. For more information, go to
  • NEEDTOBREATHE has been debuting new songs from their forthcoming Rivers in the Wasteland album, which will be released April 15. Check out the songs debuted thus far at


  • For several years our friend Doug Michael blessed us by sharing his funny and creative cartoons in our church newsletter. You can stay up to date with Doug’s work here:
  • Illinois State University Men’s Basketball coach was the featured speaker at the annual Laymen’s Lenten Breakfast, held April 2 at Second Presbyterian Church. This is an event that my Dad, brother and I have attended for many years. Muller’s message was “Husband, Father, Mentor”. He challenged the men to be better husbands, fathers and mentors. He mentioned that many of the young men he coaches did not have a father figure in their lives. He shared about his own family, getting emotional as he did so, and about his team. He shared the four team rules that his team has, including “No excuses”, and the advice that his Mom would give him and his three brothers every day as they left for school. He challenged the men to use the gifts that God has given them.
  • One of the favorite leadership events I attend each year is Leadercast, an event held live in Atlanta, and shown in numerous locations across the country. Locally, the event is held at Second Presbyterian Church in downtown Bloomington. This year’s speakers include favorites of mine Andy Stanley and Malcolm Gladwell, along with Henry Cloud, Archbishop Desmund Tutu, Laura Bush and others. The cost of the event is $65, and includes a very good hot buffet lunch and drinks and snacks throughout the day. To find out more and to register for the event contact Pastor Josh Erickson at Second Presbyterian Church.


    • Check out these books and CDs for Easter from Alistair Begg’s Truth for Life ministry.
    • Here’s a sale on audio books from, in which several titles from Zondervan/Thomas Nelson are 40% off, including books by Ravi Zacharias, Joni Eareckson Tada and Andy Andrews. The sale goes until 11:59pm on April 30.


  • The Pilgrim’s Progress: A Guided Tour by Derek Thomas

For the past week I have been immersed in John Bunyan’s classic allegory of the Christian life – The Pilgrim’s Progress, courtesy of Derek Thomas’ wonderful new teaching series The Pilgrim’s Progress: A Guided Tour.

The Pilgrim’s Progress was written by Bunyan over 300 years ago, and is one of the most widely-circulated books ever to be published in the English language. In spite of its popularity in the past, many people today are not familiar with this masterpiece. In this teaching series, Derek Thomas takes readers along this allegorical journey, showing that Christians have as much to gain from this book today as they did hundreds of years ago.

I’ve enjoyed Thomas’ ministry, reading some of his books and seeing him speak at the Ligonier Ministries National Conference several times. As he leads us through he adds historical context, biographical information and goes over the theological points that Bunyan was making in the book.

Before listening to this series, I wasn’t aware that there was a second part of The Pilgrim’s Progress, which Bunyan wrote six years after part one. Thomas believes that relatively few have read the second part.

Part two is about a woman (Christina) and her four children. Some had criticized part one as not being community/church focused, as it was more about Christian’s (Bunyan’s) spiritual journey. Part two is a road story and also a family story with an adventure.

The series is available in CD and DVD formats. You can watch the First Message  free. To order, go to


Why I love Michael Card

I first heard Michael Card’s music in early 1985. I was a relatively new believer, and the album was Known by the Scars, Michael’s first in a trilogy of albums on the life of Christ. I appreciated how he took Scripture and put it to music. I remember thinking that he sounded just like Dan Fogelberg, a popular singer from Illinois at the time. Since that time, I have purchased all of his albums and books and seen him in concert many times. And yet it is his teaching that I think I appreciate the most. It is what Michael calls biblical imagination. It’s amazing the insights he provides on passages that we have read or heard preached hundreds of times.

Michael is always intentional with his music, oftentimes doing an album and book on a particular theme. In addition to the trilogy on the life of Christ, Michael has done a three album series on the Old Testament, an album and book on lament, an album on Hebrews, one on Revelation, a hymns and a Christmas album, a few albums of songs for children, and most recently an album and book on each Gospel in the Biblical Imagination Series. He also takes an annual group to Israel to tour the Holy Land, which is something that is on my personal “bucket list”.

Now I know Michael is just a fallen man. As Alistair Begg often says, quoting J.C. Ryle, “The best of men are only men at their very best.” But the Lord has used him in a mighty way to help me grow in my faith and knowledge of the Bible through his music, books and teaching.

Several years ago, my pastor, who also very much appreciates Michael, asked me if we could bring Michael in for a concert at our church. It didn’t work out back then, but in 2012 we were able to bring him in for a Biblical Imagination Conference and concert on the Gospel of Mark. The response from those who attended was so positive, that we asked Michael and his team to come back in 2014, this time for a conference on the Gospel of Matthew and a concert, which will take place in a little more than two weeks. I hope you can join us.


Matthew: The Gospel of Identity Biblical Imagination Conference to be Held at Christ Church April 25-26. Michael Card Concert to be held at East White Oak Bible Church April 27

Just a reminder….

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

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

If you have any questions, or need additional information, please contact Bill Pence at 452-5438 or


Quotable: God is not wanting you to make sacrifices. He wants you to be a sacrifice. -Derek Thomas