Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

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

Leave a comment


  • 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.







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.

Leave a Reply