Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

Leave a comment

Happy Reformation Day and Happy Halloween!

Reformation DayChristian=Pumpkin

~ UPDATED PAGES ON THE BLOG ~Joy An Irish ChristmasWhat Can I Do with My Guilt Book

Book Review ~ What Can I Do with My Guilt? by R.C. Sproul

Movie Review ~ John Wick

Music Review ~ Joy: An Irish Christmas by Keith and Kristyn Getty

 I’m Currently Reading

INTEGRATING FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Courtesy of World MagazineWorld Magazine Cartoon




He said, “I’ve been where you’ve been before.
Down every hallway’s a slamming door.”
No way out, no one to come and save me
Wasting a life that the Good Lord gave me

Then somebody said what I’m saying to you
Opened my eyes and told me the truth.”
They said, “Just a little faith, it’ll all get better.”
So I followed that preacher man down to the river

And now I’m changed
And now I’m stronger
There must’ve been something in the water
Oh, there must’ve been something in the water

Well, I heard what he said and I went on my way
Didn’t think about it for a couple of days
Then it hit me like a lightning late one night
I was all out of hope and all out of fight

Couldn’t fight back the tears so I fell on my knees
Saying, “God, if you’re there come and rescue me.”
Felt love pouring down from above
Got washed in the water, washed in the blood

And now I’m changed
And now I’m stronger
There must be something in the water
Oh, there must be something in the water

And now I’m singing along to amazing grace
Can’t nobody wipe this smile off my face
Got joy in my heart, angels on my side
Thank God almighty, I saw the light

Gonna look ahead, no turning back
Live everyday, give it all that I have
Trust in someone bigger than me
Ever since the day that I believed

I am changed
And now I’m stronger
There must be something in the water
Oh, there must be something in the water
Oh, there must be something in the water
Oh, there must be something in the water

Oh, yeah I am changed


  • Redemption. What a great word. In this “Minute with Maxwell” video with John Maxwell, Maxwell looks at the word “redemption”. Check it out here: Metaxas book - Miracles
  • Miracles. Eric Metaxas writes that is one of the least-understood and, thus, overused words in American culture. His new book Miracles: What They Are, Why They Happen, and How They Can Change Your Life, is his attempt to help Christians and non-Christians alike to understand what Christians mean—or at least should mean—when they use the world “miracle.” Read or listen to his commentary on Breakpoint here:
  • 5 Reasons Why I am Not a New Calvinist. James J. Cassidy writes that “(John) Piper was humble and levelheaded about the new Calvinism, acknowledging its shortcomings and how in some ways it falls short of the older Calvinism. But there was something in his comparison of the new and old that he missed: ecclesiology.” As a result, Cassidy lists five reasons why he is not one of the so-called new Calvinists. Read his reasons here:
  • “Limited Atonement” is the middle letter in TULIP, but as author and pastor Douglas Wilson explains, that name might give the wrong impression. “The problem with ‘limited atonement’ is that it makes everybody think ‘tiny atonement.’” And, of course, no good Christian wants to cast the cross-work of Christ as diminutive. The better term, says Wilson, with a growing number of voices, is “Definite Atonement.” Same doctrine, better name. This way of putting it emphasizes the extent of Jesus’s accomplishment, rather than its restriction. Read the Desiring God article Jesus Doesn’t Fail: An Interview on Definite Atonement” and watch the 13 minute interview with Wilson here:
  • “Practice Principles for Biblical Interpretation” by R.C. Sproul:
  • Earlier this month Ligonier Ministries held their 2014 Regional Conference in Philadelphia on the theme, The Truth of the Cross. Steven Lawson and Stephen Nichols joined R.C. Sproul to consider topics such as the necessity of the atonement, the reason for the incarnation, the two natures of Christ, and several others. You can listen or watch the messages free here stream for free.
  • Mark Jones writes that there is a lot of diversity among Reformed theologians. Check out his article “Reformed Theological Diversity (lots of it)” for some of the areas that have been disputed among Reformed theologians here:
  • Here is John Piper’s latest labs in his series on Romans 8. This one covers verse 3. Check it out here: and this one covers verses 3-4:


  • “The Redwoods and the Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment”. ‘J.I. Packer says that the Puritans are the theological and devotional Redwoods of the western world. My (John Piper) own experience is that no one comes close to the skill they have in taking the razor-like scalpel of Scripture, and lancing the boils of my corruption, cutting out the cancers of my God-belittling habits of mind, and amputating the limbs of my disobedience. They are simply in a class by themselves.’
  • Theologian for the Ages: John Calvin – John Calvin (1509–1564) is easily the most important Protestant theologian of all time and remains one of the truly great men who have lived. Get to know Calvin better by reading Steven Lawson’s article here:
  • William Tyndale (ca. 1494–1536) made an enormous contribution to the Reformation in England. Many would say that he made the contribution by translating the Bible into English and overseeing its publication.” Read Steven Lawson’s article “Prince of Translators: William Tyndale” here:
  • Who is Ulrich Zwingli? Steven Lawson writes “Other than Martin Luther, Heinrich Bullinger, and John Calvin, the most important early Reformer was Ulrich Zwingli. A first-generation Reformer, he is regarded as the founder of Swiss Protestantism. Furthermore, history remembers him as the first Reformed theologian. Though Calvin would later surpass Zwingli as a theologian, he would stand squarely on Zwingli’s broad shoulders.” Read his article “Zurich Revolutionary: Ulrich Zwingli” here:
  • Heinrich Bullinger (1504–1575) is regarded as the most influential second-generation Reformer. As the heir to Ulrich Zwingli in Zurich, Switzerland, he consolidated and continued the Swiss Reformation that his predecessor had started. Read Steven Lawson’s profile of Bullinger “Covenant Theologian: Heinrich Bullinger” here:
  • “Fortress for Truth: Martin Luther”. Steven Lawson writes that “Martin Luther was a giant of history. Some believe he was the most significant European figure of the second millennium. He was the pioneer Reformer, the one God first used to spark a transformation of Christianity and the Western world. He was the undisputed leader of the German Reformation. In a day of ecclesiastical corruptions and apostasies, he was a valiant champion of the truth; his powerful preaching and pen helped to restore the pure gospel.” Read his article here:


  • What do you say to a person who truly believes that they are unlovable? Tullian Tchividjian writes “What can you do when you hear stories of a life lived in constant disgrace? How do you provide comfort when one’s suffering is like nothing you’ve ever experienced?” Read his article “Portraits of Grace: Allison” here:
  • Have you been looking for twenty ways you can be refreshing in your church? Read Jason Helopoulos’ article and put some of these into practice:
  • Have you heard the argument that “Gay is the New Black” that has been used to justify acceptance of homosexuality in our culture? Nobody can argument with the effectiveness in changing attitudes toward homosexuality in our culture. But is it an accurate argument? Pastor Voddie Bauchan doesn’t think so. Check out this article which includes Bauchan’s article on the subject along with a few recent related videos.
  • Do you know professing Christians who don’t attend church? Here’s a helpful article from Matthew Westerholm at Desiring God on why we should attend church. Read his article “Three Reasons to Attend Corporate Worship” here:
  • Have you ever found yourself apologizing for God? Drew Dyck in his new book Yawning at Tigers: You Can’t Tame God writes: “I’m done apologizing for God. Every few months an Atheist writes a book accusing God of being mean, and somehow simultaneously non-existent. Then we spill gallons of ink in response trying to defend God’s actions. I’m not trying to bash on apologists, because I think what they do is crucial. My beef is that after we get through explaining away every passage in the Bible where God seems mean, he comes off as hapless or misunderstood.” Amen to that! Read this article by Tony Reinke of Desiring God “Stop Apologizing for God” here:
  • Is sin worse than hell? Jonathan Bowers of Desiring God writes that “So sin, in the final analysis, is worse than hell. We should not marvel that God burns with wrath against his enemies.” Read his article “Sin is Worse Than Hell” here:
  • Do you enjoy podcasts? R.C. Sproul Jr. recently announced the debut of the “Jesus Changes Everything” podcast. You can listen to it here:
  • Rising church leaders, what is it about you that encourages Tim Keller, John Piper and D.A. Carson? Watch this video from the Gospel Coalition to find out.
  • Do you enjoy your present work or are you looking for the next big thing as far as your vocation? Check out this article from The High Calling.


BOOKS:One Vote


Quotes from R.C. Sproul:

The sinner in hell would give everything he had to make the number of sins he committed in this world one less. -R.C. Sproul

The more seriously we understand the radical nature of sin, the more it exercises a restraint upon us. -R.C. SproulBeyond the Ark by Doug Michael

Doug Michael's Cartoon


Leave a comment

Don’t Mess with John

Looking for a movie to see this weekend? Check out our review of John Wick starring Keanu Reeves to decide if it’s one you would want to see.

John WickJohn Wick, rated R
** ½

It’s been a long time since we’ve seen Keanu Reeves (best known for his Matrix films 1999-2003) in a movie. Actually, I believe it was eight years ago in 2006’s The Lake House with Sandra Bullock. He is back as John Wick, and he’s not to be messed with.
Wick is a retired contract killer who found love with wife Helen (Bridget Moynahan) and left that life behind. But Helen dies at the beginning of the film after an illness, and John is heartbroken. A puppy is delivered to his home after the funeral and it is a gift from Helen knowing that he would need something to love after she was gone. He quickly bonds with Daisy, as the pup follows him everywhere he goes, including in his prized 1969 Boss 429 Mustang.
While gassing up, a young Russian Iosef (Alfie Allen) offers to buy the car, but Wick says it’s not for sale, angering Iosef. Later that night Iosef and his gang of Russian thugs break into Wick’s home, beating John badly, stealing the car and killing Daisy. John is devastated about the dog (and the car) and seeks revenge. He receives a call from Russian mob boss Viggo Tarasov (Michael Nyqyist), who is furious that his son would do such a thing to Wick, as Viggo is very familiar with Wick, who was known as the Boogeyman. But it matters not, John is out for revenge – boy is he ever!
Reeves looks great at 50, and is perfect in this role of a retired contract killer out to settle one final and very personal score. As he does so, the body count is staggering. Viggo knows he is coming, but still can’t stop him. Willem Dafoe stars as an expert sniper who is offered $2 million by Viggo to take out Wick.
We really enjoyed the depiction of the Continental Hotel, where killers stay; it operates by its own set of rules (no killing on the premises) and currency (gold coins). The desk manager is superbly played by Lance Reddick.
The film is directed by first-time directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch. Stahelsk served as Reeves’ stunt double in the Matrix trilogy. The way they film the movie adds a lot to its effectiveness.
As you might expect, there is not much Christian content in the film. A Catholic Church is portrayed, but only as a front for Viggo’s operation. In one scene, Viggo tells John that as killers they are cursed and that is why God took John’s wife.
We enjoyed this film (yes I’ll admit it), but the over the top violence and adult language make it hard to recommend. Reeves is outstanding in the role, but overall, there is not much redeeming value to this film.

Leave a comment

Weekend Update: Looking for a Good Movie and Some New Music?

Are you looking for a good movie this weekend? Check out our review of St. Vincent, starring Bill Murray below.

And if you would like to get a head start on listening to Trip Lee’s new album Rise, which isn’t released until Tuesday, you can listen to it here

Have a great weekend!

St. VincentSt. Vincent, rated PG-13

I’ve been a Bill Murray fan since his three years (1977-1980) on Saturday Night Live. He is an extremely versatile actor, equally able to handle serious roles (received an Oscar nomination for Best Actor in Lost in Translation) as well as comedic ones (Ghostbusters, Stripes, Caddyshack, etc.). I’d been looking forward to this film since seeing the trailer months ago, which made the film appear to be a comedy. Although I very much enjoyed the film, especially the excellent acting performances, the film was much heavier and more serious than expected. Murray’s role as the cantankerous, heavy drinking and broke Vincent is a combination of Bill Murray’s serious and comedic roles, leaning more on the serious side, showing us his depth as an actor. Like all of us, Vincent is flawed, a combination of good and bad.

Vincent owes everyone money – Daka the pregnant prostitute he sees weekly but also cares about (played by Naomi Watts, who received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress in The Impossible), Zucko his bookie (Terrance Howard) and the owner of a long term care facility. We assume he is retired. He drives an old car and lives in a modest and not very clean home with his cat Felix, perhaps his only friend.

After coming home drunk and knocking over the fence in his front yard, Vincent hits his head and passes out on the kitchen floor only to be awoken the next morning hearing employees from a moving company arguing. They had just hit a large tree in Vincent’s front yard, knocking off a large limb that fell on Vincent’s car in the driveway. Vincent is furious and seizing the opportunity also blames them for knocking over his fence.

The movers are there to help Maggie (Melissa McCarthy in a likeable role for once) and her young son Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher) move in. Maggie’s husband has had multiple affairs and she has moved out with Oliver hoping for a fresh start. Oliver attends a Catholic school and has the likeable Brother Geraghty (Chris O’Dowd) as his teacher. Maggie works long hours at a local hospital to pay for the private school as Oliver’s father isn’t helping them with anything. She often comes home late, so she agrees to pay Vincent (who desperately needs the money) to babysit Oliver.

Soon, the two develop an unconventional relationship – the gruff Vincent and the small and shy Oliver. Vincent is certainly not your typical babysitter, and Maggie, who really doesn’t know anything about Vincent, has no idea what is taking place while she’s at work.

Murray delivers a very strong performance as does the young Lieberher (10 years old when he filmed the movie) and McCarthy, who is finally allowed to show what she can do in a serious role after playing the same over-the-top one-dimensional characters in films such as Bridesmaids, Identity Thief, The Heat and Tammy. I also really liked Chris O’Dowd’s humorous performance as Oliver’s teacher.

The theatre included a number of children when we saw the film. They were exposed to a good deal of adult language, a brief sex scene (no nudity), and a scene in a strip club (no nudity). This is not a children’s film, but one mature teens and adults would enjoy.

I mark the film down a half a star for its dismissive attitude toward Christianity. Although Oliver attends a Catholic school, he states that he thinks he is Jewish, while the class also contains Buddhists and a whole lot of “I don’t knows”. And when Vincent is asked to pray before a meal, he bows his head but eventually is unable to utter a prayer.

If you can get past these content concerns, you’ll be treated to a memorable performance from Murray.

Leave a comment

Coram Deo: Books, Music, Movies, Faith and Work and More

What Makes This Blog Different from Others?

I hope you’ve been enjoying the spectacular fall colors we are having in the Midwest this year. We really enjoyed the vibrant red, orange and yellow colors over the weekend. Whether you are a new reader of our blog, or have been with us for a while, we’re so glad that you check us out from time to time. What makes our blog different from the many other fine blogs out there? Our aim for the past 16 years has been to look at culture from a Christian worldview. That means we will look at movies, music, books, news, etc. from a Christian viewpoint. I do a lot of reading and so if I find something that I think you might find of interest, we’ll include it in our “This and That” category. And a relatively new passion of mine is helping myself and others integrate our faith and work, so we’ll try to include plenty of information about that as well. If you have any feedback on how we can improve the blog, please send it to us at Blessings.

 Déjà vu All Over Again

For the third year in a row (the year prior to that they won the World Series), the St. Louis Cardinals advanced to the second round of Major League Baseball’s postseason. And for the third year in a row, they ended the season with three straight losses, this time losing to the San Francisco Giants. The Giants took advantage of every mistake (walks, poor fielding plays and missed opportunities to score) that the Cardinals gave them, and were definitely the better team in the National League Championship Series (NLCS).

My Cardinal season started way back on March 15 when Tammy and I saw the Cardinals play the Atlanta Braves at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in the Orlando area. I saw four regular season games and one in each of the first two rounds of the postseason. I got to enjoy the new Ballpark Village and celebrated my Covenant Seminary graduation with a family lunch and a trip through the Cardinals Museum at Cardinal Nation within Ballpark Village.  All brought me great joy.

Eating at Cardinals Nation

Cardinal Nation has high expectations, and no doubt we are spoiled. It’s just assumed we will go to the postseason each year. At the beginning of this season I told people that anything short of a return to the World Series would be a disappointment. So based on that, the season fell short of expectations. My favorite Cardinals’ beat writer Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch summed up the loss in the NLCS and the season well here:

But overall it was a fun year and I enjoyed watching the Cards, including the many Christians on the team, including Manager Mike Matheny, Adam Wainwright, Matt Holliday, Trevor Rosenthal, Matt Carpenter and Kolten Wong.

Until next season….. Busch Stadium



October 28
Love Ran Red – Chris Tomlin
Rise – Trip Lee

November 4
Eye’M All Mixed Up: Remixes – TobyMac
Hallelujah for the Cross – Newsboys

November 11
After All These Years – Andrew Peterson
The Essential Collection – Passion
Cathedrals – Tenth Avenue North

~ UPDATED PAGES ON THE BLOG ~The Heart of Leadership

Book Review ~ The Heart of Leadership: Becoming a Leader People Want to Follow by Mark Miller

Movie Review ~ Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, rated PGAlexander adn the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Concert Review ~ Keith and Kristyn Getty at Grace Presbyterian Church in Peoriagettys-in-concert

Music Review ~ Songs of Innocence Deluxe Edition – U2songs of innocence

More U2 stuff:

Quotable:  I thought I heard the captain’s voice But it’s hard to listen while you preach      -From “Every Breaking Wave” by U2

With so much of concern going on in the world these days, I smiled when I saw this cartoon from World Magazine:

World Magazine Cartoon

Visions of VocationVisions of Vocation Book Club

Steven Garber was the speaker at my Covenant Seminary graduation in May. Tammy and I are reading his newest book Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good. Below are passages we discussed this week from our reading of Chapter 5:

Chapter 5: Come and See

  • This business of seeing ourselves as implicated is central to the covenantal epistemology. That we see ourselves as responsible, for love’s sake, is what the responsibility of knowledge is always about.
  • For people committed to lives of doing justice, loving mercy and walking humbly with God, it is never easy to craft a public policy that makes everything right for everyone. We know that at our best we still fall short—and someone somewhere will be hurt, falling through the cracks.
  • For Tolstoy’s men on pilgrimage to Jerusalem, it was in seeing that the one understood the meaning of his journey, just as it was in not seeing that the other missed the meaning of his journey. Central to the Telos Group’s mission is the conviction that it is in seeing what is going on that people will begin to understand the realities of the situation and begin to see themselves as responsible, willing to care about justice for all, not justice for “just us.”
  • And it is no surprise that when people see and hear, meeting real people with real lives, that a transformation often takes place. Relationship, revelation, responsibility. When we learn like that, we begin to see ourselves as implicated.
  • In the best of learning, in the truest learning, words have to become flesh, and more often than not it is in storied service that the eyes of the heart are awakened.
  • The covenantal epistemology is a way of knowing that sees the world through the lens of relationship. I know you, and I love you.
  • From the patriarchs on, God calls a people into being, naming them as his own and calling them to live in the world, remembering to remember the most important things.
  • Relationship, revelation, responsibility—the heart and soul of the covenant lived in and through the vocations of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David—and of course the same is true for the generations of people who saw themselves as belonging to God, known by him and loved by him. The Hebrew vision of life, grounded in the God who has “fashioned a cosmos out of love,” is covenantal. There is no other word that so captures the meaning of life lived before the face of God, responsible for love’s sake to God for history, for the way the world is and ought to be. The biblical vision is that the covenant becomes incarnate in Jesus. Wisdom and justice, sovereignty and mercy, compassion and kindness, anger and patience, all characteristics of the Holy One of Israel, become flesh in Jesus.
  • We can only learn the things that matter most when we come and see.
  • They “do the truth,” they put the truth into practice. Yes, they give flesh to the word.
  • And over many years, after many conversations, my conviction is this: moral commitment precedes epistemological insight. We see out of our hearts. We commit ourselves to living certain ways—because we want to—and then we explain the universe in a way that makes sense of that choice. It is why Augustine’s long-ago question still rings true: you cannot really know someone by asking, “What do you believe?” It is only when you ask, “What do you love?” that we begin to know another. We see out of our hearts? Yes, because we live out of our loves.
  • But what I have seen is, in the end, it is always a matter of one’s heart leading the way, one’s loves shaping one’s vision of the world and the way that a person will live in it. It was for Nicodemus, and it is for us. Words have to become flesh.
  • The story of the Samaritan woman in John 4 is its own wonder, offering another take on the meaning of incarnation.
  • But here the Word becomes flesh to the woman, and she sees something that she has never ever seen: a man can know her and still love her.
  • And the text says that Jesus came and lived for a while among them, incarnating words like holiness and mercy, wisdom and compassion. The people of the Samaritan village could see what the words meant as they were incarnated in their midst. Words have to become flesh.
  • Sometime later, Jesus returns to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish feasts and walks by the pool called Bethesda (John 5).
  • Sometimes, very strangely, we choose to love our wounds. Not so much that we openly embrace them, but so much that we cannot imagine living life without them. They have come to mean so much to us. We see ourselves in their light, or darkness, as the case actually is. And of course in the heartache of human life, it is out of our wounds that we wound others.
  • It is amazing grace that finds him in his desolation, and he hears, “Get up, take your bed and walk.” It is an invitation to respond from the one who knew that the man was responsible, able to respond. When all is said and done, what happens is a profound mystery that is finally beyond our explanation—and we can only be amazed at the grace given. Words have to become flesh.
  • For Mary, Martha and Lazarus, Jesus has been a friend, even as he has been a teacher.
  • Even if we do not fully understand the whys and hows of this story, it matters supremely that God is not a passive responder to life and death—and that he does not expect us to be.
  • Lazarus had not lost his humanity in his death—he had not become an automaton. The secret of his humanity was still his responsibility, as mysterious as it finally is.
  • The words fall flat if there is no ability to respond, to be responsible. Relationship, revelation, responsibility—always and everywhere the heart of the covenant, especially the covenant incarnate. Words have to become flesh.
  • Jesus spends the night before the crucifixion, Passover night, with his disciples, and several chapters of John are given to that (John 13–17).
  • Stories do matter, and believing the true story of human life under the sun will give meaning to our vocations, as denying it will prove the implosion of our vocations.
  • In every generation the most honest people have always understood that if there is not a story to make sense of my story, then why not “eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die”? The teaching of Jesus is never disconnected from the tensions of life, from the questions and concerns of real people in the world that is really there.
  • The central themes of the covenantal epistemology are written into the story. Jesus initiates a deepening of the relationship, revealing more of himself in the process, and then sets forth their responsibility—which is summed up by the crucial connection of knowing with doing. This is the covenant made flesh. Words have to become flesh.
  • The final story here is in the last chapter of John’s Gospel, the story of the disappointed and perplexed disciples returning to their fishing (John 21).
  • Two of the most common and most ordinary human activities, working and eating, are sanctified in the story, made holy by Jesus, showing all with eyes to see that in the new heaven and new earth these will be an integral part.
  • He could have shown them anything, he could have done anything. The resurrected Lord that he was, he could have done something noticeably “religious” for them, like baptism or the Eucharist. He could even have preached to them or prayed for them. What he chose to do was honor their work and then eat with them.
  • Working, eating—these are central to human vocation, in every culture and every century.
  • And then he invites them to respond with their labor and their lives, seeing even the most ordinary things of life as sacramental, made new as they are by the reality of the resurrection. They are signposts in a strange land of the world that someday will be. Words have to become flesh.
  • A couple of years ago, I invited a group of folks to our home for dinner. We call these Vocare evenings “conversations about calling”, together pondering the meaning of Berry’s essay “Two Economies.” In earlier conversations, we had discussed the essay and decided it would be worth a more prolonged conversation because his vision of an economics of mutuality was remarkably rich. The essay sets forth “two economies,” a lesser economy and a greater economy.
  • Berry believes that wherever we look in the world there are lesser economies: farms, villages, cities, regions, states, even nations.
  • He says that for him the greater economy is “the kingdom of God,” but that people are free to call it what they want.
  • What he does not give freedom for is whether there is a greater economy, or whether the greater economy is in fact the final arbiter of all economic visions.
  • It is important to understand this about Berry: he writes for everyone, translating his own deepest convictions in language that the whole world can understand. He is not writing for a parochial audience, for people who necessarily think like he does, who believe like he does. And in everything he writes—poetry, novels, essays—he sees the world in terms of the covenantal cosmos, of relationship, revelation and responsibility. But he is a translator, using images and words to connect to the wider world.
  • Berry is writing about the truth of the human condition, situating human beings in relation to God and to history.
  • For some, the Berryian vision is for a time out of mind, a world that has long passed away. That is not fair to him or to the world. But there is a tension here, and I have said to him on a few occasions, “If what you were arguing were simply nice ideas for nice people who live in nice places, then I would not be interested. But what you are saying is true, and so it is our responsibility to figure out what it means for where we are.”
  • These are the truest truths of the universe: We do not flourish as human beings when we know no one and no one knows us; we do not flourish as human beings when we belong to no place and no place cares about us. When we have no sense of relationship to people or place, we have no sense of responsibility to people or place.
  • Perhaps the saddest face of the modern world is its anonymity, to live as if I am known by none and belong nowhere.
  • From road rage on freeways to the casually cruel crime of the city to the existential angst of being lost in the cosmos, when we are not in relationships that matter, it is almost impossible to see ourselves as responsible to and for others.
  • Berry is writing about a covenantal cosmos, about life in the world where knowing and being known is critical if we are to flourish. This one theme runs through the body of his work: We must learn to live incarnationally, committed to particular people and particular places. If we are to have honest lives, we will have to incarnate who we are and what we believe with those people and in those places.
  • In every century and every culture there is an integral connection between knowing and doing, and it is most fully expressed in love. For glory or shame, we choose to live in love—or not. But there is also a greater economy, the kingdom of God, and in it we live and move and have our being—or not. Our flourishing depends upon our seeing these truths as true to the way the world really is. If we are to understand our place in the world, we have to find a way into that vision, somehow somewhere. Come and see.

Next week we’ll read chapter 6. Won’t you join us?


Faith and Work Book Clubs – Won’t you read along with us?What's Best Next

What’s Best Next Book Club

We continue with our overview of this new book on productivity from a Christian perspective. I’ve highlighted a number of passages and would like to share some of them from Chapter 18 – Harnessing Time Killers

How then SHOULD We Work? Rediscovering the Biblical Doctrine of Work Book Club

How Then Should We WorkThis week we conclude our overview of Hugh Whelchel’s fine book How Then Should We Work? Rediscovering the Biblical Doctrine of Work with Chapter 6. Whelchel is the Executive Director the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics and has a passion and expertise in helping individuals integrate their faith and vocational calling.

God at WorkNext week, we’ll begin a new faith and work book club on Gene Veith’s book God at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of Life. This looks to be an excellent book to read with peers with work.

Beyond the Ark header
Doug Michael Cartoon

Leave a comment

Another Red October

Big CityFor St. Louis Cardinals fans, Red October doesn’t refer to the color of the maplefamily photo tree leaves. No, it means post-season baseball. Fans are arguably enjoying the greatest stretch in team history. On Tuesday night last week, on the strength of a Matt Adams’ home run, the Cardinals advanced to the National League Championship Series (NLCS) for the seventh time in the past eleven seasons. Now they’re tied 1-1 with the San Francisco Giants. I’ve been blessed to see the Cardinals in the World Series in 2004, 2006, 2011 and 2013. Will it happen again in 2014?

 Extending Our Reach

Would you help us get the word out on our blog? If you have enjoyed and been blessed by what you read here, would you consider posting a link to the blog on your Facebook site and sharing with your friends, asking them to do the same if they enjoy what they read here? You can also click on the link on the top right side of the home page ( to “Follow”, and receive emails each time the blog is updated. Thanks so much!

 Lessons from the Upper RoomRecommended Resource ~ Lessons from the Upper Room by Sinclair Ferguson

For the last week, I’ve immersed myself in these twelve messages from one of my favorite Bible teachers. In fact, R.C. Sproul has described Sinclair Ferguson as the greatest Reformed Theology teacher of our generation. In this new series, Ferguson covers those wonderful chapters from the Gospel of John that cover his Upper Room or Farewell Discourse, chapters 13-17. The series runs about five hours, about the same time, Ferguson states, that the actual events described in these chapters took place.
A few things to highlight in this series are:

  • Ferguson describes Jesus washing the feet of his disciples, kneeling and washing the feet of all, including ones that would soon deny and betray him. Shouldn’t we follow his example?
  • If you are a Christian you follow a crucified Savior. We share in the fellowship of his sufferings.
  • Simon Peter is probably the favorite apostle of many Christians because we are most like him in failing so often.
  • Ferguson states that John 14: 1-3, often read at funerals, may be the most well-loved verses from the Gospel of John, more so than even John 3:16, because they are so comforting:  
  • Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
  • Resources we have in the Gospel are greater than the troubles we face.
  • Jesus says that He is the way to the Father in John 14:6: Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
  • Jesus must leave them so that He can send the Holy Spirit, something that the apostles couldn’t understand, and I’m sure it would have been difficult for us to understand as well.
  • Jesus prayer to the Father in his so-called High Priestly Prayer.

I highly recommend this series to you. You can watch the first message from the series “Foot Washing in Five Stages” here:
You can find out more about how to purchase the series here:

Teri's photoGuest Blog:  Teri Williams, Director of the Spoon River Pregnancy Resource Center

I am still marveling at the opportunity I had today. In all the years I have discussed options with pregnant girls/couples, rarely have I known the choice that was made regarding the pregnancy —if they were contemplating abortion–after they left. In fact, to my knowledge, I have only learned the outcome 3 times out of so many. Yes, this is hard.

The first time was actually several years ago. I had talked with a teenage girl, explained details of her options, including abortion, and she had left very unsure about carrying the pregnancy to term. So I was left to wait and wonder. I do know heaven will reveal truth, but here on earth we wait. Well one day I was at Big Lots : ). As I rounded the corner of the aisle—there was the same girl very obviously several months pregnant! My mouth dropped open, I may have even gasped and she turned to look at me. She smiled and said, “Yes, I decided to carry!” And we hugged.

Today, I actually had the privilege of meeting and holding the baby. His mom had texted me earlier in the week to come over and see him as I was “pretty much the reason he was even here!” That statement knocked me over! The memories of our many conversations have flooded over me. With her permission we are going to share parts of this situation with all of you on Facebook. I am still in awe and very thankful. To be continued.


I’m Currently ReadingKilling Patton

Book Review ~ Killing Patton: The Strange Death of World War II’s Most Audacious General by Bill O’Reilly and Martin DugardThe Judge

Movie Review ~ The Judge, rated R

Music Review ~ The Greengrass Session by Keith and Kristyn GettyGetty's EP






  •  David Mathias of Desiring God writes that “It is at the height of Christian virtue in a fallen world, and its exercise is quite simply one of the most difficult things you can ever learn to do.” What is he writing about? Self Control. Read his article “Self Control and the Power of Christ” here:
  • Desiring God has introduced a new video podcast from John Piper called Look at the Book. You can check out the Look at the Book labs and sign up for the video podcast here:
  • Stephen Miller of Desiring God writes that “Sometimes it seems as if many believers feel the need to alter who they are when they come to God in prayer, particularly when others are around.” He goes on to state that “Jesus taught the Apostles pray simply, humbly, confidently, according to God’s word, and for God’s glory.” Miller sums up Jesus’ teach in five guiding principles. You can read them in his article “Be Yourself in Prayer” here:



  • Justin Taylor interviews some of the authors of Fallen: A Theology of Sin. This got my attention as a few of my former professors at Covenant Seminary wrote chapters or edited the book – Robert Peterson, David Calhoun and Robert Yarbrough. In addition, Bryan Chapell, former President of Covenant Seminary and current Senior Pastor at Grace Presbyterian Church in Peoria, also wrote a chapter.
  • The Duck Commander Faith and Family Bible will be released October 28. It features new stories and testimonials by Phil Robertson and his son Al, a pastor with more than 22 years of experience. Together they offer fresh wisdom on biblical values and how everyday people can apply them to their lives. Features include:Duck Commander Bible
    • Full text of the New King James Version Bible
    • A personal welcome note from Phil and Al Robertson
    • 125 articles on the top 24 most-searched topics on BibleGateway
    • Life application and scripture references supplement each article
    • 30 days of life-changing testimonials
    • Topical index and reading plans



  • Albert Mohler writes that “A giant milestone in the moral revolution passed last week when the U.S. Supreme Court turned down every single appeal from several states on the issue of same-sex marriage.” He goes on to write that “The remaining federal courts were put on notice that same-sex marriage is now the expectation of the Supreme Court and that no appeal on the question is likely to be successful, or even heard. You can expect the lower courts to hear that message loudly and clearly — and fast.” He writes that “The decision made clear by the Court will lead, automatically, to the fact that 30 states will have legal same-sex marriage within weeks, if not days. The news from the Court means that the vast majority of Americans will live where same-sex marriage is legal, and three fifths of the states will have legalized same-sex marriage.” Read his entire article “The Vindication of Antonin Scalia — A Sad Milestone for Marriage and Morality” here:
  • Ebola is in the news these days. Check out the article “Ebola Explained: What You Should and Shouldn’t Worry About” here: of World MagazineWorld Magazine Cartoon


Cardinal Church Sign

Quotable:  When we think too lightly of sin, we think too lightly of the Savior. –Charles Spurgeon


Integrating Faith and Work: Connecting Sunday to Monday

 Faith and Work Book Clubs – Won’t you read along with us?

How then SHOULD We Work? Book Club – Chapter 5How Then Should We Work

This week we continue our book club on Hugh Whelchel’s book How Then Should We Work? Rediscovering the Biblical Doctrine of Work. Whelchel is the Executive Director the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics and has a passion and expertise in helping individuals integrate their faith and vocational calling. This week we cover the material in Chapter 5: The Future: Work, Calling, and Cultural Renewal. The Gospel at Work

The Gospel at Work Book Club – Chapter 8

I’m involved in a book club with peers at work discussing The Gospel at Work by Greg Gilbert and Sebastian Traeger. Last week we looked at Chapter 8: What Does It Mean to be a Christian Boss?

What’s Best Next Book Club – Chapter 17What's Best Next

We continue with our overview of this new book on productivity from a Christian perspective – What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms The Way You Get Things Done by Matt Perman. I’ve highlighted a number of passages and would like to share some of them from Chapter 17: The Art of Making Time.

Beyond the Ark headerDoug Michae cartoonl


1 Comment

Kicking One off the Old ‘Bucket List’

Concert Review ~ Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band at The Fox Theatre in St. LouisRingo at the Fox

Ringo in Concert

I grew up, and remain, a huge Beatles fan. Though I never saw them perform (they stopped touring in 1966), I have seen Paul McCartney in concert eleven times, the late George Harrison on his only US tour in 1974, and unfortunately never saw John Lennon in concert; he was murdered in 1980. Seeing Ringo Starr in concert was on my “Bucket List”. He tours often with an assortment of artists known as his All-Starr Band. The current lineup has been together for three years, something that hasn’t been done since Ringo started touring with the All-Starr Band back in 1989.
Last Friday when I eventually did see Ringo in concert was one fine day. After stopping at Busch Stadium to get my NLDS t-shirt and having a great lunch at Pappy’s Smokehouse, my favorite place to eat in St. Louis, we checked into the Hotel Ignacio, a small boutique hotel within walking distance of the Fabulous Fox Theatre, where the concert was held.
The Cardinals were opening the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers and the best pitcher in baseball, Clayton Kershaw. I watched the first few innings from the Triumph Restaurant next to the hotel, and Kershaw was dominating, giving the Cardinals only one hit and leading the Dodgers to a 4-1 lead. By the time I found my seat at the Fox a few minutes later, the score was 6-1. I continued to monitor the game throughout the two hour concert, and the Cardinals won in a thriller 10-9.
Ringo, who is 74 years old, was in great physical shape and strong voice on this night in front of an enthusiastic sold-out crowd at the unique Fox Theatre. He opened with “Matchbox” shortly after 8:00 pm, and the night was off and running. The background vocals of the other six members of the band also added much to Ringo’s twelve songs.
The night was equally split between Ringo and the All-Starr Band, which was comprised of Todd Rundgren, Toto’s Steve Lukather on guitar, Mr. Mister bassist Richard Page, Santana/Journey keyboardist Gregg Rolie, drummer Gregg Bisonette and percussionist/saxophonist Warren Ham. Rundgren, Lukather, Page and Rolie each did three of their songs, in addition to Ringo’s twelve songs, Beatles and solo songs.
It was obvious that Ringo and the entire band are enjoying what they are doing on this tour. Ringo would often flash the peace sign as he repeatedly said “Peace and Love”. There was a red star on his drum and stars served as the artwork on the curtain. Surprisingly, unlike most concerts these days, there was no video screen for this tour.
You can check out the entire set-list and the review of the concert from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch here:

The Good Lie


Movie Review ~ The Good Lie, rated PG-13




Only one life, yes only one, Soon will its fleeting hours be done;
Then, in ‘that day’ my Lord to meet, And stand before His Judgment seat;
Only one life, ‘twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last

Read Nathan’s article “Only One Life” here:

  • I found this Q&A from the folks at Crucial Skills to be of interest, not only for those in the workplace, but all of us. Read “Atoning for Past Mistake”.   
  • This week’s Andy Andrews’ podcast looks at what makes a successful coach, as well as Andy’s criteria for being coachable. Listen to it!
  • Each day John Maxwell offers a short video on a word of the day that someone writes in about. This one is about the word “kind”. Watch it here:
  • John Maxwell writes that “….ALL ethics boils down to one thing: ‘The Golden Rule’. Essentially, asking the question, “How would I like to be treated?” is an integrity guideline for ANY situation.” He states that we like to be treated in six different ways in the workplace. Read what they are in his article titled “The Right Thing 101” here:
  • Dr. Alan Zimmerman in this “Tuesday Tip” indicates that he learned what produces excellence, mediocrity and failure, and then began to realize the difference between winners and losers. Read more here in his article titled “The One Thing that Separates the Winners from the Losers”.
  • Have you visited “Place for Truth”, the website for the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals? Check it out at
  • The “casual conversations about things that count” will soon be expanding with a new website. The new site will maintain the same URL address and house the weekly Mortification of Spin podcast, but will feature articles from each of the three hosts: Carl Trueman, Todd Pruitt and Aimee Byrd. Also, listen this fall for several podcasts that will be recorded before, and even include participation from a live audience! Lots of surprises are coming; don’t miss them at


  • Ligonier Ministries Teaching Fellow Steven Lawson writes: “It is my great privilege to introduce to you the inaugural issue of Expositor Magazine, the print magazine of One Passion Ministries. Through the bi-monthly publication of Expositor, we desire to address the historical, biblical, and theological dynamics and practice of expository preaching. In addition, Expositor will serve pastors, preachers, students, teachers, and lay people by examining historical and current issues related to biblical exposition. Please visit for more information and to subscribe.”
  • Richard Phillips writes that Philippians 1:6 develops the theme of God’s preserving grace—which ensures the perseverance of His own—in three points. Read about those three points in his article “God is Faithful to Preserve His Own” here:
  • Ligonier Ministries has released a new 12-part teaching series, Lessons from the Upper Room, from Sinclair Ferguson. Ferguson paints a vivid picture of the disciples’ final moments with their Savior. Carefully walking through John 13-17, Dr. Ferguson reminds us of the centrality of Christ in all of life. Click here to find out more about this new resource.
  • Do you know what the Covenant of Redemption is? If not, check out this article from R.C. Sproul:


  • John Piper, in writing about the aging of the Baby Boomers suggests four items be the goal of our aging. See what these four are in his article “Boomer’s Bodies – And Yours” here:
  • John Piper addresses four common causes of Bible neglect in the Christian life, like: “I don’t read my Bible because . . .
    • . . . it seems so irrelevant to my life.”
    • . . . I don’t have time.”
    • . . . I go to church every Sunday.”
    • . . . I find it confusing.”

Read this article titled “Why We Neglect Our Bibles” to see how he addresses these causes:

  • John Piper has released a number of Look at the Book labs on the Desiring God website. Look at the Book is a new online method of teaching the Bible. It’s an ongoing series of 8–12 minute videos in which the camera is on the text, not the teacher. You will hear John Piper’s voice and watch his pen underline, circle, make connections, and scribble notes — all to help you learn to read God’s word for yourself. His goal is to help you not only see what he sees, but where he sees it and how he found it. Check out the labs here:


  • Did you see the catch that Steven Souza Jr. of the Washington Nationals made on the final play of the game to finish off Jordan Zimmermann’s no-hitter against the Miami Marlins on the last day of the baseball season last week? If not, check it out. 
  • My friend Jim sent me this St. Louis Cardinals corn maze from Eckert’s Fun Farm in Millstadt, Illinois. Can we send the San Francisco Giants into the maze?Cardinal Corn Maze

BOOKS:Christian Audio Book of the Month

  • The free audiobook of the month from Christianaudio is He Wins, She Wins from Willard F. Harley, who is best known for the best-selling book His Needs, Her Needs: Building An Affair-proof Marriage. He Wins, She Wins begins with one simple rule: Never do anything without an enthusiastic agreement between you and your spouse.  Click here to find out how to download your free copy.   Bush Book
  • George W. Bush’s book about his father is titled 41: A Portrait of My Father. It will be published November 11.
  • I enjoyed this review of the new book Fallen: A Theology of Sin – Theology in Community Series, edited by Christopher W. Morgan and Robert A. Peterson, the latter of which I had for two classes at Covenant Seminary. Others from Covenant Seminary who contributed were Bryan Chapell, Robert Yarbrough and David Calhoun. You can read the review here: Abridged Edition
  • Eric Metaxas’ excellent biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer at 608 pages may have scared some readers away (though Tammy recently completed the book). Now a 256 page abridged edition has been released. Check out this excellent book and learn more about this important figure. Metaxas’ new book Miracles, will be released October 28.
  • Here’s a Christianity Today review of Michael Horton’s new book Ordinary, which I plan to read when it is released this week. Check out “The Case Against ‘Radical’ Christianity”. 



  • Justin Taylor writes that the film Hound of Heaven (Kurosawa Productions) will premiere at the 2014 Raindance Film Festival on October 4. Author N.D. Wilson adapted Francis Thompson’s spiritual poem (1893), the original of which you can read here. Propaganda provides the spoken-word narration. You can read the whole story here.
  • Last weekend a new Left Behind film, based upon the popular book series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins and a remake of the previous film by the same name opened. The film stars Nicolas Cage and Randall Hardman writes “…a severe misinterpretation of what the Bible actually says about the topic. To put it bluntly, and perhaps to the chagrin of some readers, the idea of a “rapture” is simply not biblically based (and that’s where I’ve lost a third of you!) It represents, instead, a theology based on escapism and in the process does damage to what the Bible really does say about “the last days.” Read his article “Why Left Behind Should be Left Behind” here:


  • Keith and Kristyn Getty’s sold-out concert at Grace Presbyterian Church is less than two Getty's EPweeks away. On the verge of the concert they have released a new EP The Greengrass Sessions. This limited edition EP features:
    • My Worth Is Not in What I Own – the new hymn written by Keith and Kristyn and Graham Kendrick
    • Good Shepherd of My Soul – a warm and moving a capella rendition of one of Keith and Kristyn’s newer songs
    • Come Ye Sinners – a musical journey from Ireland to Appalachia envelops the traditional hymn
    • Plus 3 more brand new recordings!

To order, go to

  • Here’s a few more upcoming music releases you might be interested in:
    • November 4: Eye’M All Mixed Up: Remixes – TobyMac
    • November 4: Hallelujah for the Cross – Newsboys
    • November 11: The Essential Collection – Passion (Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, etc.)
    • After All These Years – Andrew Peterson
  • U2’s album The Unforgettable Fire is 30 years old. Billboard magazine takes a track by track look at the classic album.Newsboys
  • More on the new Newsboys album…. On the heels of one of the biggest years in their legendary career, Newsboys are at it again with a brand new hymns album, Hallelujah for the Cross. It will include many traditional hymns with new arrangements like: “Jesus Paid It All,” “What A Friend We Have In Jesus,” “It Is Well,” “All Hail The Power Of Jesus Name” and many more.
  • One of my favorite new songs is “Liberty” from Switchfoot’s new EP The Edge of the Earth: Unleased Songs from the Film ‘Fading West’: Here are the lyrics to the song:

A feeling comes to me in wavesSwitchfoot
The darkest seas I’ve ever known
Mine is an odyssey of grace
Mine is a story headed home

I tied myself to the mast
Give up the semblance of control
The sirens sing but I let them pass
Cause only You can free my soul

Set these broken bones to cast
Stitch my wounds with holy sutures
Every saint has got a past
But every sinner’s got a future

Show me the freedom from these chains
Show me a battlefield that saves
That world is still a word away
But You are my liberty

Free my soul, free my soul
And let liberty flow
Like a flood, let it go
And I’ll let the past go
I’ve come running back home
And I’ll make it, I know
All my love, all my hope
Only You could free my soul
Come on, free my soul
Only you could free my soul

I tie myself up to the mast
I tie myself up to the mast
And let it go

Only You could free my soul


 Quotable:  Don’t go to bed tonight without preaching the gospel to your heart one more time. -Scotty Smith

 Beyond the Ark headerDoug Michael Cartoon



  • God himself will milk the cows through him whose vocation that is. He who engages in the lowliness of his work performs God’s work, be the lad or king. – Martin Luther
  • A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them. – John C. Maxwell

Joy, Inc.

 Work and Leadership Book Review –

      Joy, Inc.: How We Built a Workplace People Love by Richard Sheridan


 Integrating Faith and Work: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work Book Clubs – Won’t you read along with us?

How Then Should We WorkHow then SHOULD We Work? Rediscovering the Biblical Doctrine of Work Book Club – Chapter 4

This week we continue our book club on Hugh Whelchel’s book How Then Should We Work?: Rediscovering the Biblical Doctrine of Work. Whelchel is the Executive Director the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics and has a passion and expertise in helping individuals integrate their faith and vocational calling. This week we cover the material in Chapter 4: Our Current Situation. 

What's Best NextWhat’s Best Next Book Club – Chapter 16

We continue with our overview of this new book on productivity from a Christian perspective. I’ve highlighted a number of passages and would like to share some of them from Chapter 16: The Problem with Full System Utilization.Love never fails



Leave a comment

How to Get Away with Murder

Here’s feedback I sent to ABC regarding their new TV show How to Get Away With Murder:  (I misspelled the creator’s name – rats!)

You & Peter Norwalk have taken a much-anticipated show and made it cheap and tawdry. You’ve taken an award-winning actress & a great plot but chose to add gratuitous sex.   You could have had a broad family audience, but this is why you finished third in the network total viewers stats last week. Keep pushing your individual agendas & continue to watch your viewer numbers drop. Sadly, we won’t be watching ‘How to Get Away with Murder’.   And if Viola Davis has any class, she’ll leave the show.

Here’s a quote from that prompted my feedback:

And you can expect a lot more same-sex sex and same-sex romance as the series continues because, as Nowalk puts it, “It’s part of life.”

“I knew I wanted to push the envelope, especially with the gay sex,” Nowalk explained to me. “And to me, writing the gay characterization and writing some real gay sex into a network show is to right the wrong of all of the straight sex that you see on TV. Because I didn’t see that growing up, and I feel like the more people get used to two men kissing, the less weird it will be for people. I just feel like it’s a lack of vision that you don’t see it on TV, but ABC has never had a note about any of the weird stuff in the show, so I’m gonna keep it going.”

Nowalk reveals that Connor (Jack Falahee), the gay character, is definitely going to have a romance in the first season, right off the bat, starting with the second episode. It was in important to show a gay person as a full-fledged character.”

And of course it goes without saying, there will be lots of straight romance and straight sex, too.

If you want to give feedback to ABC:
1.  Don’t watch the show!
2.  Go to  They give you a limited amount of space, so make it short and pithy!

 To quote the movie, ‘Network’:  “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”