Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

Living Life Before the Face of God in 2015

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Cemetery Story

Last week I made my annual trek out to Funk’s Grove cemetery to visit my Mom’s grave on Christmas Eve. I always play Andy Williams’ Christmas music on the way to and from the cemetery because it reminds me of Mom, who used to play his first Christmas album as we were growing up.  As I visited her grave I was reminded of a rather strange story.

When Mom died unexpectedly in 1996 at age 60 we didn’t have any plans on where she and Dad would be buried.  As we were sitting in the Family Room at the hospital, still in shock that we had lost Mom, the thoughts turned to where she would be buried. Mom loved the fall colors. Dad mentioned that the previous fall they were out at the Funks Grove cemetery and Mom mentioned that she could see herself buried near one of the beautiful trees out there.  So that’s where she is buried. It’s a beautiful cemetery in Central Illinois that dates back to 1830.

At that time Tammy and I decided to go ahead and buy a plot near Mom and Dad’s plot. I remember it not being far from a bench that I would sit on when I came out to visit Mom’s grave. The guy who was running the cemetery back then had a hand drawn map (from 1830?) with the locations marked on it.  He seemed pretty disorganized but we didn’t think too much of it at the time. We made our installment payments and eventually got the deed to our plot. Over the years I would see additional graves dug near where our plot was but figured all was well.

A few years ago we got a voice message from the new caretaker of the cemetery. He wanted to talk to us. What could he want? Well, it turns out the cemetery had installed a computer system, and as they went through their records “our” plot had been sold to two different clients. And the other client had died first. Yes, someone was buried in our plot. Seriously? At least we found out about it ahead of time. Could have been much more of an issue if they had found it out when they were getting ready to dig the hole for one of us!  Should we have ‘stood our ground’ and made them evict the other client? No, we ended up picking out a plot in the same general area, but it made for an interesting story to tell.


2014 CHART-TOPPERS:          


IN THE NEWS: Newsies

  • Disney’s Newsies. We saw the musical (based on the 1992 movie starring an 18 year old Christian Bale) in Chicago over the weekend. We really enjoyed it! Check it out if it comes anywhere near you – GREAT singing and dancing.            
  • Jesus Changes Everything: An Announcement Regarding My Future Ministry. R.C. Sproul Jr. announces his parting with Highlands Ministries.
  • Unbroken Film Gets My Dad’s Faith Right. Luke Zamperini writes “That was his (Louis Zamperini) greatest hope for the film version of Unbroken: not that it would be applauded by fellow Christians, although he certainly would have been honored and humbled by their appreciation; but that it would be seen by non-Christians drawn to a rousing epic about the indomitable human spirit who, when the credits have finished rolling, might just discover there’s a whole lot more to his story than that.
  • Louis Zamperini: Captured by Grace. Here is a 28 minute documentary on Zamperini from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
  • Heisman Trophy winner: ‘Football doesn’t define me’ Marcus Mariota of Oregon will face Ohio State in the National Championship game January 12.
  • ‘Wheel of Fortune’ contestant solves puzzle with ONE letter. Matt DeSanto, a Pennsylvania father of two, racked up $91,892 in prize winnings, a new record for the show. DeSanto told that he didn’t do anything special to prepare.
  • Newsweek on the Bible — So Misrepresented It’s a Sin. Albert Mohler calls Newsweek’s recent cover story “An irresponsible screed of post-Christian invective leveled against the Bible and, even more to the point, against evangelical Christianity. It is one of the most irresponsible articles ever to appear in a journalistic guise.”
  • NYPD Officer Rafael Ramos Saw Streets as His Ministry. Rafael Ramos was just hours away from becoming a lay chaplain and graduating from a community-crisis chaplaincy program before he and fellow New York police Officer Wenjian Liu were gunned down in their patrol car Saturday in Brooklyn.
Courtesy of World Magazine

Courtesy of World Magazine


BOOKS: Spurgeon's Sorrows by Zack Eswine


FREE AND RECOMMENDED RESOURCES:Morning and Evening - Spurgie

Tullian Tchividjian is the Senior Pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, grandson of Billy Graham and one of my favorite authors. This is a book of daily readings released just in time to begin 2015. Here is a flavor of what to expect from the reading for January 1:

“We start every new year thinking, This is the year! We resolve to turn over a new leaf – and this time we’re serious. We promise ourselves that we’re going to quit bad habits and start good ones. We’re going to get in shape, eat better, waste less time, and be more content, disciplined, and intentional. We’re going to be better husbands, wives, fathers, mothers. We’re going to pray more, serve more, plan more, give more, read more, and memorize more Bible verses. We’re going to finally be all that we can. No more messing around.

And then, twelve months later, we realize we’ve fallen short – again.

What I’m most deeply grateful for is that God’s love for us, approval of us, and commitment to us does not ride on our resolve but on Jesus’s resolve for us.”

He goes on to write: “As this new year gets under way, take comfort knowing that we are weak and He is strong – that even as our love for Jesus falls short, Jesus’s love for us is eternal.”

I look forward to making this book part of my devotional reading each day. If you would like to try out a free 52 week email devotional from Tullian, you can sign up here – It is Finished Devotional.


I’m Currently ReadingThe Art of McCartneyJohn The Gospel of Wisdom

Book Review ~ John: The Gospel of Wisdom by Michael Card

Music Review ~ The Art of McCartney – Various Artists


Favorite Quotes of the Week ~ 1.5.2015

• Try this New Year’s resolution: I won’t check my phone, my tablet, or my computer until I’ve first read a chapter in my Bible. Kevin DeYoung
• Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you’re not saved yourself, be sure of that! Charles Spurgeon
• The “old man” dies hard. He doesn’t die easily. And the struggle goes on throughout life. R.C. Sproul
• Don’t panic, if you haven’t figured out 2015. Every moment is the beginning of the rest of your life. Begun is begun, no matter when. John Piper
• To say doctrine doesn’t matter, only how you live matters, is itself a doctrine. It’s the doctrine of salvation by works. Tim Kelller
• You cannot experience God without knowing who he is, what he has done, and who you are in relation to him. Michael Horton
• We can only grasp the gospel’s sweetness if we first grapple with its offense- you can’t save yourself. Tim Keller
• Make the most of your life instead of comparing it to everyone else’s. Lecrae
• Christianity loses its scriptural fidelity and internal power when it no longer affirms both sola fide and the necessity of obedience. Kevin DeYoung
• If Christ is not everything, He is nothing. He who has Christ has everything. Steven Lawson
• We do not need more conferences, and celebrities. We need more churches where the Spirit is immersing sinners into Christ day by day. Michael Horton
• Grace is not simply leniency when we have sinned. Grace is the enabling gift of God not to sin. Grace is power, not just pardon. John Piper
• It’s better to feel sorry for doing something bad than to feel superior for doing something good. Tullian Tchividjian
• We do not find success by trying to be successful or happiness by trying to be happy. Michael Horton
• We too often complicate that which God has made simple and too often try to simplify that which God has made mysterious. Burk Parsons
• A spiritual leader is one who knows the way, shows the way, and goes the way. Steven Lawson
• Prayer is the breath, the watchword, the comfort, the strength, the honor of a Christian. Charles Spurgeon
• The best way to guard our hearts isn’t to seal them off from the world but fill them up with grace. Scotty Smith
• I am throwing all my good works overboard, and lashing myself to the plank of free grace; for I hope to swim to glory on it. Charles Spurgeon
• We often think of prayer as a means to an end. Prayer is the goal. Francis Chan
• I fear that many don’t speak out and work against abortion because they think it’s not cool or not the “in thing” to be passionate about. Burk Parsons
• If you do not receive Christ as the Lamb who saves and delivers, you will face Him as the Lion who stalks and devours. Steven Lawson
• To discover the real you, look at what you spend time thinking about when no one is looking. Tim Keller
• It’s because Jesus spoke so frequently about hell that the church should take the concept seriously. R.C. Sproul

integrating faith and work

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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