Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

Blue Ridge Wedding Weekend

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Pretty Place Chapel SCLast weekend we travelled to South Carolina for the wedding of our nephew Mark and his bride Tiffany. I have known Mark since he was born in 1981. We have gone on family vacations together most of the years since then. We don’t agree on much – be it sports, politics or religion. But I love him like I would my own son, so we very much looked forward to the destination wedding.

We flew out of an empty Midway Airport in Chicago on Thanksgiving Day, and back on Monday (later finding out that Midway made national news for their mile-plus lines going through security on Sunday) and landed in Greenville, South Carolina.

The groom, his bride, the best man and his wife and some friends were already there from Houston, Texas. Others came from as far away as Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey, Florida and Washington D.C. Many were frustrated by the lack of cell and wireless service in the area, but everyone loved the natural beauty. I enjoyed reading Sinclair Ferguson’s outstanding new book The Trinitarian Devotion of John Owen as I sat next to the Saluda River (which was more like a large creek at this time of year).   We stayed in a Table Rock river cabin (check out their site for photos here – There was such joy as family and friends (who stayed in other cabins in the area) would gather to eat, drink and visit in the large cabin next to the one we stayed in. Over the long weekend the crowd plowed through 16+ Giordano’s pizzas!

The largest towns in the area were Pickens and Traveler’s Rest. There were Baptist churches of every type and size in the area, which was just beautiful. In God’s Providence the reading for the day of the wedding (November 29) in Scotty Smith’s book Everyday Prayers was on marriage, and the chapter I read in Gene Veith’s God at Work was on the family, and marriage as a vocation.

Happy Bride and GroomThe wedding was held in a chapel appropriately known as “Pretty Place”, 2,900 feet up at a YMCA camp that held special memories for both the bride and her father. Christ was at the center of the ceremony, just as He is in the center of Mark and Tiffany’s relationship. Above the couple as they took their vows on a beautiful cool (48 degrees) day was Psalm 121:1: I will lift up my eyes to the hills.Table Rock Lodge

The reception was held at the Lodge at Table Rock State Park –, with a beautiful view of Table Rock Mountain and a beautiful lake.

On Sunday morning many had breakfast at the Café at Williams Hardware (appropriately named as the groom’s last name is Williams) in Traveler’s Rest.

Biltmore Estate After we said our “goodbyes”, with all going their separate ways, we were off to Asheville, North Carolina with our niece Amanda to visit the Biltmore Estate which was decorated for Christmas. We had a great time and enjoyed a beautiful day.

All in all, it was a great time with family and friends in a beautiful setting. Many blessings for a long, happy, healthy and Christ-centered marriage for Mark and Tiffany.

A Titillating Tidbit:

Bob Jones University is located in Greenville, South Carolina, and was made infamous in Steve Taylor’s 1984 song “We Don’t Need No Color Code” about their racial policies. The song was going through my mind throughout the time we were in the area:

Down Carolina way
Lived a man name o’ Big B.J.
B.J. went and got a school
Founded on Caucasian rule
Bumper sticker on his Ford
Says “Honkies If You Love The Lord”

White man speak with forked tongue
White supremacists eat their young
Bigotry is on the loose
Ignorance is no excuse
I know Jesus loves that man
Even with a Greenville tan

In 2008, the university apologized for their racist policies including a one-time ban on interracial dating that wasn’t lifted until 1999 and its unwillingness to admit black students until 1971.

So, are there any current Christian musicians that are willing to speak up and light a spark in our culture today?

Favorite Christmas Albums

I love Christmas music! Once I get to the week before Thanksgiving, it’s about all I listen to until Christmas Day. My two favorite Christmas songs are “O Holy Night” (you gotta listen to Stuart Neill’s version) and “Go Tell it on the Mountain”, of which James Taylor has a great rendition.

We usually pick up a few new Christmas albums each year. This year, I chose albums by Keith and Kristyn Getty, Michael W. Smith, John Schlitt and Peter Furler. My all-time favorite Christmas albums are The Andy Williams Christmas Album, which my Mom used to play as we went to sleep and Christmas Songs by Jars of Clay. I also love all four of Michael W. Smith’s Christmas albums, James Taylor’s Christmas albums as well as Christmas music from Chris Tomlin, Steven Curtis Chapman, Nat King Cole, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Michael Buble, Michael McDonald, Russ Taff, Perry Como, and many others.

What are some of your favorite Christmas albums?


I’m Currently Reading

Movie Reviews:Whiplash

  • Whiplash (reviewed by Jason Halm)
  • Birdman (reviewed by Bill Pence)Birdman

Michael W. Smith ChristmasMusic Review: The Spirit of Christmas – Michael W. Smith & Friends



The Dawning of Indestructible JoyFree Piper Audiobook. The free audiobook for December from Christian Audio month is John Piper’s new The Dawning of Indestructible Joy.

14 Best Books of 2014. Tony Reinke of Desiring God lists his top books of the year, none of which I have read, though Tammy and I plan to read his top choice together soon. I’ll list my favorites from 2014 the first week of January.

Tim Keller on Prayer. Tim Challies writes that “He (Keller) has written a winsome, well-rounded book that leads through theory and into practice. It is one of the strongest books on prayer I have ever read and it receives my highest recommendation.”

Rise: Get Up and Live in God’s Great Story by Trip Lee. Here’s a two-minute video about Trip’s new book, which features a Foreword from John Piper and will be released January 27.

MUSIC:Shane and Shane Christmas

Free Download of Shane and Shane ‘Joy to the World’. You can download a track for FREE from A Worship Initiative Christmas from Shane and Shane courtesy of Desiring God. It is the number one Christian album on iTunes this morning.

Lie Down in the Grass ~ Charlie Peacock discusses the 30 year anniversary release of his classic album.

Former Creed Lead Singer Penniless. Sad story about Scott Strapp, who recently made a Christian album and was in my town recently for a concert.

Bob Dylan Performs Concert – For Just One Person. My friend Tom told me about this private concert that Dylan held recently.

U2 Tour LogoNew U2 Tour. Christmas comes a little early for U2 fans as their iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE Tour has been announced. The tour begins in 2015, will see U2 play indoor arenas for the first time in a decade and will visit 19 cities (including the United Center in Chicago June 24-25), worldwide during its first year with pairs of shows in each city. “We are going to try to have a completely different feeling from night one to night two,” said Bono, “and have some fun playing with the idea of innocence and experience. More to be revealed!” The tour follows the recent release of U2’s thirteenth studio album Songs Of Innocence. To date, Songs of Innocence has been streamed 81 million times and has been downloaded by 30 million fans. Tickets go on sale to the public Monday, December 8. U2 is my favorite band – can’t wait!

New McCartney Single. Sir Paul McCartney will release a new single – “Hope for the Future” this month. The track is taken from the year’s biggest video game release ‘Destiny’.


Sadie Robertson Finishes Second in Dancing with the Stars. The daughter of Willie and Korie did well on the popular dance competition.

Did you see Ruffalo play “Musical Beers” with Jimmy Fallon and others recently on The Tonight Show?

Why Christian Bale is Wrong About Moses. Matt Perman writes why comments made by Christian Bale (who will portray Moses in the upcoming Exodus: Gods and Kings film) are in direct contrast to the depiction of Moses in Scripture.


The Ferguson Moment—A Moral Test for the Nation. Albert Mohler’s reaction on the Ferguson decision last week.

Ferguson and the Path to Peace. Russell Moore writes that the tension in Ferguson, Missouri “ought to remind us, as the church, that we are living in a time in which racial division is hardly behind us. That reality ought to motivate us as citizens to work for justice, but also as the church to seek to embody the kingdom of Christ.”

Why I Believe the Grand Jury Got It Wrong and Injustice Triumphed. Here is Thabiti Anyabwile’s reaction to the Ferguson decision.

Thoughts on Ferguson. Voddie Baucham writes “In the end, the best lesson my children can learn from Ferguson is not that they need to be on the lookout for white cops. It is far more important that I use this teachable moment to remind them that “God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap” (Gal. 6:7). Moments before his death, Michael Brown had violently robbed a man in a store. A man doing the best he could to make a living. Minutes later, Brown reaped what he sowed, and was gunned down in the street. That is the sad truth.”   4

Lecrae on Ferguson: ‘The System We Have in Place Has Biases’ Lecrae didn’t choose the article title. He writes “I still have hope for a dream of unity and peace. I’m exercising my faith and fighting for a glorious future, and I want to call others to do the same. It’s going to take a lot of time, long conversations, and education, but if not us then who?”


Why is Church So Boring? R.C. Sproul gives his answer.

Ligonier Ministries Resource Guide. A lot of gold here with many resources that have blessed me mightily over the years.

Mark Noll’s Memoir: World Christianity, Historical Thinking, Humbling Paradox. John Piper gives a glimpse into Noll’s three passions and the foil of his personal faith.

How Pornography Works: It Hijacks the Male Brain. Albert Mohler writes that “We are fast becoming a pornographic society. Over the course of the last decade, explicitly sexual images have crept into advertising, marketing, and virtually every niche of American life. This ambient pornography is now almost everywhere, from the local shopping mall to prime-time television.”

A Theology of Sleep. Andy Naselli offers ten excerpts from And So to Bed….A Biblical View of Sleep by Adrian Reynolds.

A Prayer for Days When You Wake Up with a Low-grade Irritability. Here is another wonderful prayer from Scotty Smith that hits a little too close to home.

Favorite Quotes of the Week 12.1.2014

  • Whether you are “radical” or “ordinary” – love Jesus, stay humble, and serve others. -Scotty Smith
  • As long as I am focusing on the faults of others, then I don’t have to face my own.Tullian Tchividjian
  • In the culture of pluralism…the only thing that cannot be tolerated is a claim to exclusivity. -R.C. Sproul
  • We never grow closer to God when we just live. It takes deliberate pursuit and attentiveness. -Francis Chan
  • The bad news? We’re far worse than we think. The good news? He’s far more gracious than we think. -R.C. Sproul Jr.
  • Suffering is the stripping of our hope in finite things, therefore we do not put our ultimate hope in anything finite. -Tim Keller
  • I am going to judge my circumstances by Jesus’ love, not Jesus’ love by my circumstances. -Tim Keller

integrating faith and work

Dave Kraft looks at the 20th chapter of Acts in these two articles:

These Occupations Could Offer the Most Satisfying Careers. This list ranks over 200 different occupations not on how big the salary is, but on how meaningful these jobs feel to the people that work them.

Three Practical Ways You Can Express Gratitude at Work. John Kyle writes that “Feeling and expressing gratitude in a workplace filled with thorns and thistles can be challenging.” He provides three ways we can be more thankful at work.

Permission. John Maxwell looks at this word in this edition of a “Minute with Maxwell”.

Work and Rest According to Jesus. Download this free audio sermon from Tim Keller at the Redeemer Presbyterian web site.

Overworking Is Not God’s Idea. Bill Peel shares ideas from J. B. Wood on how to put a little Sabbath in our lives.

4 Ways a Christian Leader Should Know “What Time It Is”. Trevin Wax states that there are four spheres in which Christian leaders should know “the time”.  (Kinda reminds me of “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” a song written and sung by Robert Lamm while in the rock band Chicago.)

How To Get Things Done: Deal With Interruptions. Tim Challies continues his helpful series on productivity

My Work Is More Important than Yours,’ So We All Say. Bethany Jenkins writes that “The more precious the cross becomes to us, the less we feel the need to exalt our work over the work of others.”

Check out this week’s episode of Andy Andrew’s podcast on when to eliminate negative people from your life.

Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael

Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael





Author: Bill Pence

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

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