Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

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Tomorrow’s July already? The days are starting to get shorter? Nah.

For the past several years I’ve gone to a Milwaukee Brewers game with my brother and a few of his friends. It’s always a nice time. This past week on our annual trip we saw the Brewers beat up on the Washington Nationals. Of course, since the Brewers are in first place ahead of my Cardinals, I had to cheer for the Nationals (but to no avail). Here’s a picture I took from just behind the foul pole before the game, which gives you a good idea of what Miller Park looks like:Miller Park

RaviniaLogoHave you ever been to Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, IL? What a wonderful venue for a music concert! We recently went to hear James Taylor, and you can see some photos and read more about it at




  • Singer/songwriter John Hiatt will release Terms of Surrender on July 15. The title song can be purchased now at iTunes.
  • Michael Card has a song included on the new album Uncle Donald’s Niagra Brand Tonic Elixer. The song is “Lo! and Behold!” Here’s a link to the album on
  • I recently saw that Trip Lee, Reach Records rapper is serving as a Pastoral Assistant at Capitol Hill Baptist Church where Mark Dever is Senior Pastor. Trip is in the process of recording his follow-up to 2012’s The Good Life.


World Magazine Cartoon


  • The MLJ Trust announces a daily sermon podcast of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. You can sign up for the Podcast by either clicking on the following link MLJ Podcast, or going to the lower right section of the sermons page on the website: MLJ Sermons. They will be starting with Romans, and one of the best MLJ sermons on the Apostle Paul, called, simply, “A Man Called Paul”.
  • Dr. Don Kistler recently returned from northern California where he preached five messages on the doctrine of the church. The messages are: 1. Why Is the Church Important? 2. Christ’s Faithfulness to His Church 3. Mutual Ministry 4. Protecting the Flock 5. Church Growth, God’s Way The messages are available at the website of Christ the Redeemer Presbyterian Church of Eureka, California at:











There is no better test as to whether a man is really preaching the New Testament gospel of salvation than the fact that some people might misunderstand it and misinterpret it to mean that it really amounts to this–that because you are saved by grace alone it does not matter at all what you do, that you can go on sinning as much as you like because it will abound all the more to the glory of grace. That is a very good test of gospel preaching. If my preaching and presentation of the gospel of salvation does not expose it to that misunderstanding, then it is not the gospel.   -D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (listen to 1,600 sermons from Lloyd-Jones at

Quotable -Tweeted by Dr. Albert Mohler
“Mr. Whitefield, don’t flatter them, I fear that half of them are going to hell with their eyes open.”–said by a pastor to George Whitefield

God doesn’t invite people to be saved. He commands them. -RC Sproul

The reason God knows the future is because he plans the future and accomplishes it. -John Piper


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  • NEEDTOBREATHE recently released the official video for “Multiplied”, one of my favorite songs off of their chart-topping album Rivers in the Wasteland. It was recently filmed in Nashville. You can watch it here:
  • Recently, Tammy and our brother in law Al were talking about some of the all-time great albums. Some that came up were Rumours by Fleetwood Mac, the debut album by Boston, Frampton Comes Alive by Peter Frampton, Thriller and Off the Wall by Michael Jackson. I’ll add Abbey Road and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band from the Beatles, Born to Run from Bruce Springsteen and Tapestry from Carole King. What about 21 from Adele? What albums would you add to this list? Let us know.
  • U2 leader Bono was given a humanitarian award at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. The festival presented the rock star with its inaugural Cannes LionHeart award, which recognizes a person or organization “that, through innovative use of commercial brand power, has made a significant and positive difference to people or the planet.” Read more here:
  • Amy Grant’s 1991 hit “Baby, Baby” has been amped up and reimagined for the singer’s first-ever album of remixes. “In Motion: The Remixes” will be released August 19 on Sparrow Records, and is slated to include other Grant pop classics like “That’s What Love Is For” and “Every Heartbeat.” Ready about the new album and listen to the remix of “Baby Baby” (which is actually pretty good), here.Paul Mc


Desiring God –                          

  • The 2014 Desiring God National Conference will be held September 26–28 in Minneapolis. It will be the twelfth and final fall conference as we have known them. Desiring God is calling it Look at the Book: Reading the Bible for Yourself. John Piper will do five sessions, modeling Look at the Book from Romans 8 and unfolding the biblical foundations and fruit of seeing the Bible in this way. Jerry Bridges, Nancy Guthrie, Ben Stuart, and others have agreed to come and speak on topics related to personal Bible reading. Registration is only $150 if you register by July 25. Read more here and watch the trailer for the conference here:
  • Here’s a helpful article on evangelism from Desiring God titled “Are You Too Christian for Non-Christians?” Read it here:
  • Jon Bloom, in his article “Jesus Wants You to be You”, writes: “God had you specifically in mind when he created you and called you to follow him. You are custom-designed for your calling. But when you face the difficulty of your calling, you may look at others and be tempted to wonder why they don’t seem to bear the same burdens you do”. Read the entire article here:
  • In Jon Bloom’s article “This May Push You Over the Edge”, he references John Piper’s sermon on suffering “Live to Die,” with his primary text being Colossians 1:24. Bloom encourages us to listen to the message, not just to read the transcript. He says that it will shake us, that it gets to the core what it means to live as a Christian in this age. It is not a comfortable message.
  • John Piper continues looking at the ten most highlighted passages – this time Philippians 4:13 – in this article entitled “The Secret in Every Circumstance”. Read the article and watch the 3-minute video here:

Ligonier Ministries –

Other –

 5 loveThe 5 Love Languages Book Club Week One

Tammy and I started our summer book club of Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to a Love that Lasts last week. We covered the introductory chapters. Here are a few passages we highlighted:

  • With all the help available from media experts, why is it that so few couples seem to have found the secret to keeping love alive after the wedding?
  • The problem is that we have overlooked one fundamental truth: People speak different love languages.
  • We must be willing to learn our spouse’s primary love language if we are to be effective communicators of love.
  • My conclusion after thirty years of marriage counseling is that there are five emotional love languages—five ways that people speak and understand emotional love.
  • In the field of linguistics a language may have numerous dialects or variations. Similarly, within the five basic emotional love languages, there are many dialects.
  • The important thing is to speak the love language of your spouse.
  • Seldom do a husband and wife have the same primary emotional love language. We tend to speak our primary love language, and we become confused when our spouse does not understand what we are communicating.
  • Among those emotional needs, none is more basic than the need for love and affection, the need to sense that he or she belongs and is wanted.
  • We needed love before we “fell in love,” and we will need it as long as we live.
  • The need to feel loved by one’s spouse is at the heart of marital desires.
  • I am convinced that keeping the emotional love tank full is as important to a marriage as maintaining the proper oil level is to an automobile.
  • WARNING: Understanding the five love languages and learning to speak the primary love language of your spouse may radically affect his or her behavior. People behave differently when their emotional love tanks are full.
  • We have been led to believe that if we are really in love, it will last forever. Unfortunately, the eternality of the in-love experience is fiction, not fact.
  • After studying scores of couples, she concluded that the average life span of a romantic obsession is two years.
  • Once the experience of falling in love has run its natural course (remember, the average in-love experience lasts two years), we will return to the world of reality and begin to assert ourselves.
  • Some couples believe that the end of the in-love experience means they have only two options: resign themselves to a life of misery with their spouse, or jump ship and try again. Our generation has opted for the latter, whereas an earlier generation often chose the former.
  • Our most basic emotional need is not to fall in love but to be genuinely loved by another, to know a love that grows out of reason and choice, not instinct.
  • That kind of love requires effort and discipline. It is the choice to expend energy in an effort to benefit the other person, knowing that if his or her life is enriched by your effort, you too will find a sense of satisfaction—the satisfaction of having genuinely loved another. It does not require the euphoria of the in-love experience. In fact, true love cannot begin until the in-love experience has run its course.
  • Love is the attitude that says, “I am married to you, and I choose to look out for your interests.”
  • How do we meet each other’s deep, emotional need to feel loved? If we can learn that and choose to do it, then the love we share will be exciting beyond anything we ever felt when we were infatuated.

Each chapter ends with a helpful discussion question.

Next week we will cover the first love language Words of Affirmation. Won’t you join us?

 Integrating Faith and Work

  • Check out this article “God’s Will and Your Job”, from R.C. Sproul:
  • Being a leader is about creating a way for people to contribute in order to make something extraordinary happen. Nancy Ortberg discusses two simple ways in which leaders can do this to humanize work. First, she explores the ways God reminds us to look in small places for great things. Second, she tackles the importance of workplace conflict and the need for giving feedback to those we respect. Check out her talk titled “Humanizing Work Through Leadership” here:


Book Reviews:

Movie Reviews:

  • Jersey Boys
  • Lone Survivor


We can put it this way–the man who has faith is the man who is no longer looking at himself and no longer looking to himself. He no longer looks at anything he once was. He does not look at what he is now. He does not even look at what he hopes to be as the result of his own efforts. He looks entirely to the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished work, and rests on that alone. He stops saying, ‘Ah yes, I used to commit terrible sins but now I have done this and that.’ If he goes on saying that, he has not got faith. Faith speaks in an entirely different manner and makes a man say, ‘Yes I have sinned grievously, I have lived a life of sin, yet I know that I am a child of God because I am not resting on any righteousness of my own; my righteousness is in Jesus Christ and God has put that to my account.’

-D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (listen to 1,600 sermons from Lloyd-Jones at



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Summertime, and the livin’ is easy…



• The faith based film Alone Yet Not Alone is showing at the Carmike Theatre at Grand Prairie in Peoria. You might want to catch it this week as it may not be held over after Thursday.
Duck Dynasty fans already know this, but for the rest of you, season 6 began on June 11 on A&E.
Ligonier Ministries has made the audio and video of all sessions at their recent West Coast Conference available. Check them out here:

Ligonier West Coast Conference



  • The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman is one of those best-selling Christian books that I had not read. Not sure why, but I finally listened to the audiobook a few weeks ago. That was about the same time that Tammy suggested we do a book or Bible study over the summer. I suggested reading and discussing The Five Love Languages. We’re starting today! Why not considering doing the same with someone you love?
  • This year, World Magazine, instead of having one Book of the Year, chose an outstanding title in each of three categories—popular theology, history, and analysis. Two more in each category are runners-up, and they also spotlighted a book that doesn’t fit in those categories but deserves special recognition. Read more here:
  • Desiring God announces their latest e-book, Good: The Joy of Christian Manhood and Womanhood, which is available in three formats, free of charge. Desiring God has teamed up with the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood to produce a multi-contributor volume that aims at a fresh articulation of God’s good design in creating men and women. This new resource — the collaboration of 14 contributors — seeks to cast a vision for manhood and womanhood that is rooted more in beauty than mere ideology, more in gladness than mere position. Read more here:
  • Cal Thomas was recently the guest on Steve Brown’s excellent podcast Steve Brown, etc. He was talking about his new book: What Works: Common Sense Solutions for America, a book that is on my reading list. Check out the interview here:



Integrating Faith and Work
Here is a link to a condensed version of a paper I wrote on my vocation as a leader in the Calling, Vocation and Work course I took at Covenant Seminary in the summer of 2013. Calling Vocation & Work-condensed PDF

Bucket List Updates
Looks like I’m going to be knocking two items off of my bucket list over the next several months:
• See Ringo Starr in concert. The former Beatles’ drummer will be in concert at the Fabulous Fox Theatre in St. Louis in early October. I’m excited to finally see him in concert with his All-Starr Band, which this tour features Todd Rundgren and former members of Toto, Santana, Mr. Mister and Billy Joel’s and Don Henley’s bands. We’ll also be seeing Paul McCartney, the only other surviving Beatle, in concert this summer, so it will be quite the nostalgic year. Yeah, yeah, yeah!

Visit Israel with Michael Card as guide. After a lot of prayer, Tammy and I made the decision that I would register for the Journey Through Israel with Michael Card: 11 Day – Life of Christ trip, January 1-11, 2015. Read more details about the trip:

Book Reviews
The Noticer Returns: Sometimes You Find Perspective, and Sometimes Perspective Finds You by Andy Andrews
The Captain: The Journey of Derek Jeter by Ian O’Connor
Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Makes You Free by Tullian Tchividjian

Theology and Misc. Book Reviews
• By Grace Alone: How the Grace of God Amazes Me by Sinclair Ferguson
• Indescribable: Encountering the Glory of God in the Beauty of the Universe by Louie Giglio and Matt Redman
• For Calvinism by Michael Horton
• How the Gospel Brings Us All the Way Home by Derek W. H. Thomas
• Twelve Unlikely Heroes: How God Commissioned Unexpected People in the Bible and What He Wants to Do with You by John MacArthur
• The Disappearance of God: Dangerous Beliefs in the New Spiritual Openness by Albert Mohler
• The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming by Henri J.M. Nouwen
• Who Am I? Identity in Christ by Jerry Bridges

Movie Reviews
• How to Train Your Dragon 2
• Belle

Music Review
• iTunes Session – Crowder

(Imagine this as an episode of the TV Show Frasier)

So I’m sitting at the computer in my pajamas, trying to buy an online ticket to an event, and here’s what happened over the last 30 minutes:
• I get to the ‘5 minutes left to make your purchase’ page, and Molly, our dog, frantically has to go outside.
• We just got new credit cards, and I keep getting ‘problem processing your credit card’.
• In the meantime, I also have to use the ladies room.
• Then I hear knocking on the patio door – it’s the men that cut our grass and they want Molly out of the backyard.
• She’s barking – running – acting goofy. Meanwhile I’m in my PJ’s with no foundation garment on trying to round her up.
• Back to the computer – I’ve accidentally chosen too many tickets, and have to figure out how to edit that.
• In the meantime, the 5 minutes has expired.
• Starting the process over again, I’m STILL having trouble with the credit card (they said the new card wasn’t activated, even though I KNOW I called the 1-800 number and took off the sticker).
• I switch to paying with the debit card and FINALLY purchase the ticket.
• Immediately I go to my bank’s website to transfer money to cover the debit card purchase – from savings to checking. Too late! Overdraft transfer fee. Ugh!
• I topped it all off with a phone call to the visa card company to find out why my card wouldn’t work. And what do I receive for my trouble? An endless list of security questions!
So, honey, what did you do with your day today?
You are either a Christian or you are not a Christian; you cannot be partly a Christian. –Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Quotable ~ From “At the Cross” by Chris Tomlin
At the cross
At the cross
I surrender my life.
I’m in awe of You
I’m in awe of You
Where Your love ran red
and my sin washed white.
I owe all to You
I owe all to You Jesus.

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When Cancer Visited our Family

On the evening of May 20, still basking in the glow of a graduation celebration we decided to go to a movie. I was planning to go to a Yankees/Cubs game with my Dad and brother the following day. We arrived home to a message from my sister Lisa, indicating that she had been diagnosed with melanoma, or skin cancer. We were shaken. This was my little sister, ten years younger than me. It was the first time that cancer had visited our immediate family. We went from the highest high of my graduation to the lowest low.

The following days we talked of a “heavy heart”, as we prayed for Lisa, who clung to her faith during this very difficult time. Facing an upcoming trip to Spain to visit her daughter who is studying there this summer, Lisa worked hard to get appointments set up with the oncologist and surgeon. In God’s providence, she was able to have surgery to remove the malignant melanoma on June 2, less than two weeks after being diagnosed. We were blessed to hear on June 6 that the lymph nodes removed during surgery came back free and clear and there were clear margins around the melanoma. We are thankful for the mercy the Lord showed Lisa.

Thank you to so many of you who prayed for Lisa and our family during this time.


Developing a “Best List”

On May 21 my Dad, brother and I went on our annual Peoria Charter bus trip to Wrigley Field to celebrate Father’s Day. On 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 folks that I shared those experiences with. What would be on your list?

Here are a few of the favorite things that I’ve done to start my list:


  • Paul McCartney at Soldier Field in June 1990. It was the final show of the tour, a beautiful night and we were there with Tammy’s sisters and husbands. It is my favorite of the eight (and counting) McCartney shows that I’ve seen.
  • Billy Joel and Elton John at the Allstate Arena several years ago. They played nothing but hits for about three hours.
  • Bruce Springsteen. I’ve seen him several times and he never fails to amaze.
  • U2. I’ve seen them several times, and my favorite was their October, 2001 concert in Chicago on the Elevation tour, just after the September 11 tragedy. There was an intensity that wasn’t there during the Chicago stop in May


  • We’ve been traveling to Orlando in February or March almost every year since 1997. During this particular week we attended the Ligonier Ministries National Conference, a Disney theme park, Arnold Palmer’s golf tournament, the Winter Park Sidewalk Arts Festival and a Cardinals/Braves Spring Training baseball game.
  • As a family we took several trips up to Hayward, Wisconsin, staying in a nice home on Clear Lake. I have wonderful memories of the weeks we spent there fishing, golfing, etc.
  • In the years before my Mom died in 1996, Tammy, Mom, Dad and I took several trips to Eagle Ridge in Galena, Illinois. We enjoyed golf and several special dinners.
  • Since we’ve been married, almost every year we’ve taken an extended family vacation with Tammy’s family. This usually includes her sister, husband, their children and also a niece. It now includes some of the children’s spouses and will soon include a new granddaughter. We enjoyed vacationing at Turkey Creek Ranch in Theodosia, Missouri on Bull Shoals Lake for several years and have also enjoyed Hilton Head Island in South Carolina for several years.

Sporting Events

  • In 1998 Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were chasing Roger Maris’ all-time home run record of 61. In the first inning in St. Louis, McGwire hit a towering home run down the left field line. I was so excited I just started pounding my brother’s arm!
  • In June 1998, Michael Jordan’s last year with the Bulls, the Bulls were playing game 6 against Utah in Utah. The Bulls opened up the United Center for fans to watch the game on the video screen. The Bulls won the game on Jordan’s dramatic shot and the place went crazy. I’ll never forget heading home on Damon Avenue with horns going off, slapping “high fives” with people walking alongside the car.
  • I grew up going to Illinois State University games at Horton Fieldhouse. I attended so many great games there, that I can’t pick just one, though watching Doug Collins play was certainly special. Going to a game at Horton was a great experience.
  • Growing up, Mickey Mantle was my favorite baseball player. My Dad would take us up to old White Sox Park to see Mantle and the Yankees, but it seems that he was always injured and didn’t play. Finally, toward the end of his career he not only played, but hit a home run into the upper deck in right field. I’ll never forget as the entire crowd stood as the Mick rounded the bases.  




  • Here are recommended books for the graduate in your life from Todd Pruitt:
  • The ESV Reader’s Bible was created for those who want to read Scripture precisely as it was originally written–namely, as an unbroken narrative. Verse numbers, chapter and section headings, and translation footnotes are helpful navigational and interpretive tools, but they are also relatively recent conventions. In the ESV Reader’s Bible they have been removed from the Bible text. The result is a new kind of Bible-reading experience in a volume that presents Scripture as one extended story line. The ESV Reader’s Bible will be released June 30. Find out more about it here:
  • Christianaudio’s Twice Yearly Sale, in which nearly all of their digital downloads are just $7.49, is going on now through June 20. I always look forward to this sale to stock up on some good Christian audiobooks. Find out more here.



  • Crowder sightings. Crowder will be in concert at Joyfest at Six Flags in St. Louis this Saturday and also at the House of Blues in Chicago (with All Sons and Daughters and Capital Kings) on October 1.
  • Speaking of upcoming concerts, check out the AudioFeed Music Festival at the Champaign County Fairgrounds July 3-6. Appearing on Saturday July 5, will be Steve Taylor, Peter Furler and Propaganda.
  • I grew up being a huge Beatles fan, and still am. I saw George Harrison on his only tour, and have seen Paul McCartney eight times, and will see him again in Chicago later this year. Regrettably, I never saw John Lennon in concert. On my bucket list is to see Ringo Starr in concert. It may just happen, as he has announced an October 3 concert in St. Louis at the Fabulous Fox Theatre in St. Louis. Now….to get someone to go with me, that’s a completely different challenge (smile).



  • I enjoyed this church sign as posted on Christianity Today’s site:



I’m Currently Reading…

Integrating Faith and Work

Book Reviews –
The Closer: My Story by Mariano Rivera
A Godward Heart: Treasuring the God Who Loves You by John Piper

Movie Reviews
Edge of Tomorrow
The Fault in Our Stars

Music ReviewBelow Paradise by Tedashii


I enjoyed this quote from Albert Mohler’s “Sexual Devolution” message at Ligonier Ministries West Coast Conference:
Quotable ~ Knowing God is your single greatest privilege as a Christian. -Sinclair Ferguson

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Center for Faith and Work Dream

Ever since reading Tim Keller’s outstanding book Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work (see review here: Every Good Endeavor  by Timothy Keller), and reading about Redeemer Presbyterian’s Center for Faith and Work, I’ve had a passion to do something like that locally. I write about that in my “Philosophy of Ministry document here: Philosphy of Ministry – FINAL copy. I would like to merge what I’ve learned in my vocational leadership and my seminary education.

Now that I have completed my seminary work I have more time to focus on this. This summer I will be reading recommended books and thinking about what this may look like in Bloomington/Normal.

For example, I’ll be reading some of these books to learn more about how to integrate my faith into my vocational life:

Every Good Endeavor
Creation Regained
Culture Making
Work Matters
Playing Heaven: Rediscovering Our Purpose as Participants in the Mission of God
He Shines in All That’s Fair
When The Kings Come Marching In

Initial thoughts I have are to organize book clubs reading some of these books. I can also envision Adult Sunday School classes on faith and work. I could see a panel discussion, with people from different vocations talking about what it looks like to be a Christian in different fields (IT, medical profession, farming, insurance and financial services, etc.).

To find out more about Redeemer’s Center for Faith and Work, go to

If you have a similar passion, please let me know.









  • Disney’s film Frozen recently surpassed their film Iron Man 3 to become the fifth-highest grossing film of all time, with an incredible $1.219 billion in ticket sales worldwide. Read more here:,0,2641840.story
  • There were a few strong debuts by Christian artists on the iTunes charts this week. Below Paradise by Tedashii debuted at #7 and Neon Steeple, the initial release by Crowder debuted at #8. In addition, Below Paradise debuted at #1 on the Hip-Hop/Rap charts. Congratulations!
  • Speaking of Tedashii and Crowder, Crowder guests on the song “Angels and Demons” on Tedashii’s Below Paradise album.
  • The Decatur Celebration will be held August 1-3 in downtown Decatur. Dove Award Contemporary Christian singer Jamie Grace will be in concert on Sunday, August 3. To check out more information about the event, go to

I got a chuckle out of this sign that appeared in Christianity Today.

quaker ave.


Leadership Book Review ~

  • The Noticer by Andy Andrews

Sports Book Reviews ~

  • A Golfer’s Life by Arnold Palmer with James Dodson
  • Mentored by the King: Arnold Palmer’s Success Lessons for Golf, Business, and Life by Brad Brewer

Movie Review ~ Maleficent, rated PG

Album Review ~ Neon Steeple by Crowder


Quotable: God in saving us saves us from Himself. -RC Sproul