Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

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For the last several years my brother and I have celebrated Father’s Day with our Dad with a Peoria Charter bus trip to Wrigley Field. This year’s trip occurred on what would have been my parent’s 59th wedding anniversary. Also, in 2014 Wrigley is celebrating its 100th anniversary, and the game Dad chose was against the New York Yankees. In Spring Training, future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter announced that this would be his final season. This was his final game at Wrigley Field. The game would go 13 innings before the Yankees won. Jeter would bat seven times, getting one hit. Each time he came to the plate the crowd (including yours truly) would rise for a standing ovation and stay standing throughout the entire at bat. I’m glad I was able to see him before he retires.BaseballOn the bus ride to the game, I was talking to my Dad about my bucket list. I asked him what he had on his list. He really didn’t have a lot of items, though we both have attending the Masters golf tournament on our lists. What Dad suggested instead was making a list of those things or places we’ve been that most impacted us, or we most enjoyed. I thought that was a great idea. I thought of special vacations, concerts or sporting events that made the top of my list, and those that I shared those experiences with. What would be on your list?



  • The St. Louis Cardinals have announced plans for “Christian Day at the Ballpark” on Saturday, August 2 at 6:15pm when the Cardinals face the Milwaukee Brewers. This year’s featured speaker is Marcus Luttrell, co-author of the book The Lone Survivor and the inspiration for the movie The Lone Survivor, starring Mark Wahlberg. Current Cardinals players will also participate in the post-game outreach event. Groups of 25 or more can call 314-345-9000.
  • Here’s an interesting article on the best “walk up” songs (the music a batter has played as they are walking to the plate in baseball).!PONk3. Here are the “walk-up” songs for the St. Louis Cardinals, including Matt Carpenter who walks up to Long Hot Summer Day” by Turnpike Troubadours –  What song would you used for your “walk up” music?
  • is offering a second free audio book this month. The Race Before Us: A Journey of Running and Faith by Bruce Matson is a memoir detailing one man’s journey from doubt to faith. To find out more and download your copy, click on this link.


Desiring God and John Piper ~

  • Here’s an interesting article from Desiring God on the subject of anger “What our Anger is Telling Us”:
  • In the sixth volume of The Swans Are Not Silent series, John Piper celebrates the importance of poetic effort by looking at three influential Christians whose words magnificently display a commitment to truth and a love of beauty. Examining the lives of George Herbert, George Whitefield, and C. S. Lewis, Piper helps us appreciate the importance of carefully crafted words by exploring how Christians can use them to testify to God’s glory, wonder at his grace, and rejoice in his salvation. Piper states that of all the books he has written, this one may be the one most different from all the others. It is less about the God we see and more about how to see him. Read Piper’s article about the new book here:
  • Do you enjoy reading? Is it deep reading or scan reading, or somewhere in between. You might be interested in this article/interview entitled “The End of Books” from Desiring God:
  • Here is a helpful article on selfish ambition from Desiring God, entitled “Escaping the Slavery of Selfish Ambition”. Read it here:
  • John Piper writes that Romans 8:28 is your verse if you believe in the God of the Bible, and you love him, all the bounty of one of his greatest promises is yours. Read his article “Life’s Deepest Pains for Your Greatest Pleasure” and watch a three minute video with Piper talking about Romans 8:28 here:

The best of men are but men at best… ~


  • Crowder’s (David Crowder) first solo album Neon Steeple, one of the year’s most anticipated albums, will be released May 27. It features the single “I Am”.
  • Jimmy Needham didn’t grow up in the church, and he didn’t know anything about old hymns. He wasn’t actually introduced to them until he was in college. Watch this short video of Jimmy performing the classic “How Great Thou Art”, one of my favorite hymns.
  • Bob Dylan released on his website a new recording of “Full Moon and Empty Arms”, a cover of a 1945 song Frank Sinatra made popular. The song was written by Ted Mossmann and Buddy Kaye and based around Sergei Rachmaninoff’s 1901 composition “Piano Concert No. 2 in C Minor.” The song has been covered by everyone from Robert Goulet to The Platters, but Sinatra’s rendition remains the most famous. The 72 year old Dylan’s last few albums were inspired by popular music from this era. A full album is expected later this year. You can listen to the new recording here:



Book Reviews:

 Movie and DVD Reviews:

    • Million Dollar Arm
    • The Railway Man
    • Locke
    • Grand Piano


Compliments of World Magazine



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I like this cartoon from World Magazine:

World Magazine cartoon


  • We had a great graduation celebration in St. Louis this past weekend! This included the Baccalaureate on Thursday evening, which my Dad and his wife Pat attended, along with my dear pastor Bob Smart and his wife Karen. We had a wonderful family lunch at Cardinal Nation at the new Ballpark Village, right next to Busch Stadium. The graduation ceremony was held Friday evening and many family members were able to attend.  ll never forget.Rooftop Seats!


  • Former New York Yankee Robinson Cano, appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon on the eve of his return to Yankee Stadium after leaving for Seattle and a huge contract. Check out the hilarious segment here:
  • If you haven’t already eaten at the new Jason’s Deli (in the former Baker’s Square building on Veteran’s Parkway), we would highly recommend it. We visited for the first time last week and were pleased with the food, service and facility.




    • Chris Tomlin released a surprise single on May 13 titled “Waterfall”. This is the first of the new music from his forthcoming album. His last studio album Burning Lights entered the Billboard 200 overall album chart at number 1 in January 2013. The album’s single “Whom Shall I Fear (God of Angel Armies)” earned a Grammy Nomination for Best Contemporary Christian Music Song, whilst the album was nominated for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album. Tomlin will appear in concert at the US Cellular Coliseum. Here are the lyrics to the new song written by Tomlin and Ed Cash (they have teamed up on several songs in the past such as “How Great is Our God” and “Whom Shall I Fear (God of Angel Armies)”, “Jesus Messiah”, and many others).

O God, my God I seek You
I wanna move when You move
You’re more than I could long for
I thirst for You
You’re an ocean to my soul
To my soul

Your love is like a waterfall, waterfall
Running wild and free
You hear my heart when I call, when I call
Deep calls to deep
Your love is like a waterfall, waterfall
Raining down on me
Waterfall, waterfall

O God my God, I seek You
In this dry and desert land
You lead me to streams of mercy once again
You’re an ocean to my soul
To my soul

It’s coming like a flood
I’m dancing in the rain
Everything I’ve done is covered in rivers of grace

It’s coming like a flood
I’m dancing in the rain
I lift up my hands
Your love never changes


Book Reviews:

Everyone’s a Theologian: An Introduction to Systematic Theology by R.C. Sproul

Wooden: A Coach’s Life by Seth Davis. Macmillan


Comedy Album Review:   Obsessed by Jim Gaffigan



Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. He is the Seeker; we are the ones who are running. —RC Sproul

The greatest good suffering can do for me is to increase my capacity for God.         —Joni Eareckson Tada

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Graduation Weekend!





  • $5 Friday: Each Friday Ligonier Ministries offers trustworthy resources on sale for $5. The weekly sale runs 12:01 a.m. — 11:59 p.m. Friday ET. Find out more each Friday at
  • Blogger Tim Challies highlights Kindle deals of interest each day at
  • Christianaudio offers a free audiobook each month, announcing it the first day of the month at
  • A new podcast that I’m excited about is Radical with David Platt (Platt wrote the popular book Radical. You can download the podcast on iTunes.
  • Search over 1,000 sermons from John Piper to listen to or download free here:


  • Liberty University has recently been connected with faith healer Benny Hinn and Mormon Glenn Beck. Read this story from World Magazine titled “Strange Bedfellows”:
  • Recently, blogger Tim Challies began a series of articles through which he is scanning the history of the church—from its earliest days all the way to the present time—to examine some of Christianity’s most notable false teachers and to examine the false doctrine each of them represents. Check out the articles that have been published thus far:
  • Emily Letts is a 25 year-old abortion counselor who decided to make a video about her own abortion, and the result is one of the most disturbing video messages ever presented to public view. Read Albert Mohler’s article here:
  • Perhaps you’ve seen the story about two brothers who are believers losing their HGTV show because of statements they made. Read more here.



  • Ravi Zacharias’s next book, written with Vince Vitale is Why Suffering: Finding Meaning and Comfort When Life Doesn’t Make Sense. The book will be published October 21.  
  • Through the end of May, Reformation Trust Publishing is giving away the eBook edition of Douglas Bond’s The Poetic Wonder of Isaac Watts. In this addition to the A Long Line of Godly Men Profile series, Bond introduces us to Isaac Watts, “the father of English hymnody.” Read more and download your copy here:


  • “Daywalkers” by Propaganda and featuring Lecrae from Propaganda’s new album Crimson Cord is one of my favorite songs of the year. Below are the lyrics to the song:

Could we just get three minutes of your time, give or take a second or two? See, when they ask you about the culture, tell them I know it well This what you get when you mix Tony Hawk with Ice Cube, NWA, and the Bones Brigade Let me talk to them

Propaganda: Catch me copping nag Champa north corner of Santee or Twenty minutes east of South Central, that’s West Covi Broken families imposter, black rocking white Rasta Jimi Hendrix, Courtland Urbano mocking all your preconceived The narrative fight great, the heritage makes a man stand with his spine straight The ground that grew Kendrick, Anthony Kiedis, Incubus Music that speaks to the Jim Morris in each of us Shared the same nutrients, except mine got laced with divine DNA The child of a freedom fighter, trialed like graffiti writers Wild like the Freedom Riders We are all daywalkers, hybrids, bilingual, bicultural Flowing in the King’s tongue, Elohim and human one Rosetta Stone with a mic and some Chucks on All things to all men, so all men say “Amen!”

Hook:When you’re the product of a Panther and mama’s prayers answered You don’t even think twice You be like “Let’s go!” When they ask you about the culture, say “I know it well”

Lecrae:  Hey look, my homies told me back when I was playing my Nintendo To stay away from windows, cause bullets, they tend to hit those My mama told when I got the PS one To skip the BS and lead us or be as numb As every other brother throwing up colors in my community I knew better, but couldn’t do better but then I grew to be The same dude reading Wayne Grudem even though I grew up Listening to Snoop and Ice Cube, be amused Had the musac we used that to bruise cat’s egos Nowadays you might find me under the steeple Preaching to the people or making me a sequel To mixtapes, get shin scrapes at skate parks I’m everything in one; I’m a product of great art I’m a product of Descartes, Tim Keller, and Outkast Iconoclast the glass ceiling that they put above me The reason that they hate me, the same reason they love me


Leadercast 2015 – Beyond You

I’ve been attending the Leadercast event (which has gone under different names – Maximum Impact Simulcast, Chick Fil-A Leadercast and now Leadercast) over the years. Originally it was John Maxwell’s event, and he has been a speaker each year I’ve attended until this year. Each year the event has been well hosted at Second Presbyterian Church in downtown Bloomington. Attendance this year was down almost 75% from last year due to a decision from a local employer not to support the event. However, my experience was that the 125 people who did attend found it to be a wonderful day of learning, inspiration and networking.

This year’s theme was “Beyond You”. That resonated with me because it is what servant leadership is all about.

Andy Stanley opened the event, and it was his job to tell us what it means to be a “Beyond You” leader, and to create a “Beyond You” culture in your organization. He stated:

  • “Beyond You” leaders fearlessly and selflessly empower leaders around them as well as those coming alongside them.
  • Fearlessly. Leaders who are not afraid of the 25 year-old kid who is smarter than you. “Beyond You” leaders will pour themselves these leaders even though they may take their place someday.
  • Empower. Every leader has power. What leaders need to learn is how to leverage your power/influence for the sake of those around you.
  • Andy stated that the Big Idea is: The value of a life is always measured by how much of it was given away. He said that this is often apparent when we hear about the impact someone has had on others at their funeral.
  • “Beyond You” leaders celebrate generosity and selflessness. We celebrate generosity, but sometimes envy accumulation.
  • We should spend more time on leveraging influence for the sake of others rather than accumulation.
  • He gave us three things to begin doing:
  • Make as few decisions as possible. Refuse to make decisions that other people can make. This is empowering. We need to say: “You decide”. As your organizational authority increases, your organizational IQ decreases. As you go up, you’ll know less and less about more and more things because you are responsible for more. You have authority, but not competency. Just because I have the authority, I don’t have to use it. Give it to others.
  • Work for your team. “Beyond Leaders” ask: “What can I do to help?” How can I leverage my influence/power/position to help you do what I’ve hired you to do? How can I work for you? I want to loan you my influence/power/position. Ask for 1-3 things you can do to assist your team members.
  • Empty your cup. “Beyond Leaders” should ask: “What can I do to fill their cup”? Some object and say that they will do this when they’re the boss. No, start now.

Leadercast is about creating leaders who are worth following. They announced that in addition to the annual one-day event, they are launching new experiences (Leadercast Nights,, etc.). Though the cost to subscribe to LeadercastNow is $299 annually, you can sign up for a free two-week trial subscription at

Leadercast is partnering with the Barna Group on a research initiative on leadership. A few findings: Only one in five say their leader is a good leader. Two in five say their leader is a bad leader. A good (or bad) leader makes a big difference. Bad leadership holds us back.

Here are a few other take-aways from the event:

Dr. Henry Cloud

  • Cloud recently spoke at the organization I work at. His latest book is Boundaries for Leaders: Results, Relationships, and Being Ridiculously in Charge.
  • He talked about the middle space between leadership and human dynamics.
  • Human dynamics drive your influence. You leave a wake (like a boat).
  • Results and relationships. Some leaders get results, but damage people in the process and lose influence.
  • How do you get influence? You need to build influence on a foundation of trust.
  • The human heart wants to be known and understood. Do the people you lead know that you understand them?
  • It’s good to have something past yourself. Is it just about the work? What is the big reason you do what you do? Do the people you lead know this?
  • An opportunity comes when your passion meets a need.
  • Does your work have meaning?
  • Having your influence go past you is vital.
  • Are you able to give up the one thing that is hardest for you to give up (control)? Human beings are control freaks.
  • If you want to empower people you’ve got to let go and give them control. Then, connect them to the work that will help them get results and have passion for.
  • People need to know that you are there for them.
  • Show your people that you are willing to do whatever it takes for them.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu

  • He spoke live at the Cape Town, South Africa Leadercast site.
  • He spoke about Nelson Mandela, his selflessness and servant leadership.
  • He had an incredible distinctive laugh, and seemed to really enjoy speaking to the group.
  • He included current events, mentioning the girls were recently abducted, hearing that they had been sold as child brides for $12 in neighboring countries.
  • He said that good leaders listen and consider the opinions of all.
  • Good leaders are accountable. They serve those they lead.
  • Good leaders are there to lead because they know the way.
  • He humorously ended by saying that good leaders know when to retire, and then walked off the platform.

Laura Schroff

  • Told a moving story about helping a hungry 11 year old boy (Maurice) on the streets of NYC in 1986. That has resulted in a long-term relationship with Maurice, who is now married with seven children. Schroff wrote about her relationship with Maurice in her book An Invisible Thread.

Malcolm Gladwell

  • Gladwell talked about Ian Freeland, a General in the British forces in Northern Ireland who made a major mistake. Note: this account is from Gladwell’s latest book, the excellent David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants. See my review here: David and Goliath
  • Freeland thought a leader’s role was to set a clear set of rules. Violate those and there will be consequences.
  • Gladwell introduced the topic of deterrence and the consequences of not obeying a leader or the law. What is a leader to do to maintain their authority?
  • He used the example of paying taxes. The level of honesty on tax day varies significantly from county to country. Why so? Americans pay taxes because the perceived cost is so high for cheating. But do we have serious penalties in the U.S.? Not really.
  • Is deterrence the reason people obey or follow law/leaders? No, it’s legitimacy.
  • He talked about the components of legitimacy. It is legitimate if we are being treated with respect.
  • It is legitimate if we are treated with fairness.
  • It is legitimate if it is not arbitrary.
  • What does effective leadership look like? It’s not just what you say, but how you say it. You must be respectful of people. Even if you disagree.
  • You must have a trustworthy system.
  • When we look at people who disobey leaders, we shouldn’t ask what’s wrong with the people, but what’s wrong with the leaders.
  • Another illustration used was education in low-income neighborhoods. It is a system that can’t be trusted.
  • As a leader, we must ask what we can do to make this whole enterprise legitimate.
  • Freeland never understood about establishing legitimacy.
  • The people (Catholics) were not treated fairly. The police were Protestants.
  • The system wasn’t fair or trustworthy.
  • Freeland’s mistake lead to 30 years of fighting that didn’t end until the 1990’s. It started with a leader who did not understand the full obligations of leadership.

The 2015 Leadercast will be held on May 8.


Book Reviews:

  • The Holy Spirit by Sinclair Ferguson
  • God Took Me by the Hand: A Story of God’s Unusual Providence by Jerry Bridges
  • Where Nobody Knows Your Name: Life in the Minor Leagues of Baseball by John Feinstein

Music Review: The Essential James Taylor

 Os G


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Jack is Back!



look book

  • David Murray recently listed his top ten books for fighting porn. Read his article – click here.



  • Author Jan Karon returns to Mitford with Somewhere Safe With Somebody Good, to be published Sept. 2. See the cover of the book and read an exclusive excerpt here:
  • Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God by J.I. Packer is the free audiobook from Christianaudio for the month of May. If God is sovereign, can Christians sit back and not bother to evangelize? Or does active evangelism imply that God is not really sovereign at all? What is an antinomy? This classic audiobook by J.I. Packer clarifies the sovereignty of God, the responsibility of man, and the heart of God to seek and save the lost. To download your copy, go to                                                         In addition, Christianaudio has priced four other J.I. Packer audiobooks, including the classic Knowing God, at just $4.98.





Book Reviews:

  • Shining Star: Braving the Elements of Earth, Wind and Fire by Philip Bailey with Keith and Kent Zimmerman
  • Uncommon – Finding Your Path to Significance by Tony Dungy
  • Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

Movie Review:

  • The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Music Reviews:

  • Passion: Take It All (Deluxe Edition)
  • Crimson Cord by Propaganda


Truth has no degrees or shades. A half-truth is a whole lie, and a white lie is really black. -John MacArthur