Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

WebLog Stardate 4.10.14

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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











Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence – married to my best friend Tammy, a graduate of Covenant Seminary, St. Louis Cardinals fan, formerly a manager at a Fortune 50 organization, and in leadership at my local church. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people develop, and to use their strengths to their fullest potential. I am an INTJ on Myers-Briggs, 3 on the Enneagram, my top five Strengthsfinder themes are: Belief, Responsibility, Learner, Harmony, and Achiever, and my two StandOut strength roles are Creator and Equalizer. My favorite book is the Bible, with Romans my favorite book of the Bible, and Colossians 3:23 and 2 Corinthians 5:21 being my favorite verses. Some of my other favorite books are The Holiness of God and Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul, and Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. I enjoy music in a variety of genres, including modern hymns, Christian hip-hop and classic rock. My book Called to Lead: Living and Leading for Jesus in the Workplace and Tammy’s book Study, Savor and Share Scripture: Becoming What We Behold are available in paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon.

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