Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

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2015 Ligonier Ministries National Conference


Nearly every year since 1997, my wife Tammy and I have experienced a taste of Heaven each February or March as we make the trek from the frigid Midwest to sunny Orlando, Florida to attend the Ligonier Ministries National Conference. It is the home of the “Happiest Place on Earth” after all. For the second year in a row we enjoyed the conference with fellow elder Don Lusk and his wife Angela.

First Baptist Church of Orlando, the usual host of the conference, was not available due to renovation work (though the 2016 conference will return there February 25-27). As a result, the conference was held this year at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, a beautiful location, where we enjoyed the beauty of the lakes, landscaping, wildlife and several walks during the five days we stayed there.Reformation Study Bible

The conference was highlighted by the release of the newly revised and updated Reformation Study Bible, which R. C. Sproul served as the General Editor. Go to to find out more about this important new resource.

Glory to the Holy OneAnother highlight of the conference was the release of the new album of sacred hymns Glory to the Holy One from Jeff Lippencott (music) and R.C. Sproul (lyrics). Lippencott is an Emmy-nominated composer. See to find out more about Jeff and his accomplishments.

The album was presented in full at Saint Andrews Chapel the night before the conference with full orchestra and choir. In addition, four songs from the album were performed at the conference on Friday evening. Go to to find out more about this powerful new release. The album includes R.C.’s song “Clothed in Righteousness”, which has become one of my favorite hymns sung at Ligonier National Conferences and Saint Andrews Chapel the past few years.  The hymn singing with such a huge crowd of believers is a highlight for my wife, only topped by the singing of the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah at the end of the conference.

This year’s conference began with a pre-conference event, kicked off by Tim Challies, who spoke on “Purity in the Digital Age”, a very helpful message that everyone needs to listen to. All conference messages can be watched free at

Tim’s message was followed by the inspirational story of Rosaria Butterfield, as she detailed her journey as a lesbian professor in the English Department and Women Studies Program at Syracuse University. Her academic interest was focused on feminist theory, queer theory and 19th century British literature. She achieved tenure in 1999, the same year that she converted to Christianity and ultimately became a pastor’s wife. I picked up Rosaria’s book The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, and will be reading it shortly. She recommended the book, The Art of Neighboring: Building Genuine Relationships Right Outside your Door by Jay Pathak. She said that the GLBT community values hospitality and applies it with skill, sacrifice, and integrity; something the Christian community could learn from. Peter Jones gave the final message in the pre-conference, and a “Question and Answer” session (always among my favorite sessions) closed out the pre-conference.

Sinclair Ferguson, one of today’s most respected Reformed theologians, opened the formal conference with “Christ’s Message to the Church”, from Revelation 2:1-7, the message that most impacted me. This is a message that all church leaders should listen to. This was such a powerful message, Tammy and I listened to it again on the way to Saint Andrews for worship the day after the conference ended.

Other highlights for me were Alistair Begg’s “No Place for Truth”, “Whatever Happened to Sin?” from Russell Moore and Do Not Love the World” from Kevin DeYoung. Other conference speakers were Steven Lawson, R.C. Sproul Jr., Robert Godfrey, Stephen Nichols and R.C. Sproul. Another highlight was a session we attended Friday night in the conference bookstore in which Sinclair Ferguson described a number of books that he recommended we read.

All of the messages were strong. The messages and the question and answer sessions challenged and encouraged me. I left the conference with a greater desire to read and study the Bible and to pray.

Below are the daily recaps of the conference from Andrew's Chapel

We ended our conference experience by attending Sunday worship at Saint Andrews Chapel in Sanford, where we sang hymns accompanied by their beautiful pipe organ.  Sinclair Ferguson filled the pulpit and preached (in his Scottish brogue) on “The Gospel in Four Propositions” from Galatians 2:20 in the morning and evening services.
Aaaahhh…. Another taste of Heaven.

If you get an opportunity to attend the 2016 Ligonier National Conference I would highly recommend it.

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Movie Reviews ~ McFarland USA and Kingsman: The Secret Service

McFarland USA movieMcFarland USA, rated PG
*** ½
This film is based on the true story of the 1987 McFarland High School cross-country coach Jim White, portrayed well by Kevin Costner. The film is directed by Niki Caro, who directed Whale Rider, a film I saw back in 2002.

Coach White’s passionate temper has gotten him fired from football coaching jobs and he is down to his last chance at underfunded McFarland High School in California, where he takes a job teaching science and Physical Education, while also serving as the assistant football coach. The school is in a poor agricultural community which is home to Mexican-American farmers and produce pickers. When White, his wife Cheryl (Maria Bello) and their two daughters move to McFarland, they are definitely outsiders. White has initial conflicts with the head football coach and high school principal (Valente Rodriguez). It is only as he sees his students, who refer to him as “White”, running to get to their after school jobs as produce pickers that he gets the idea of forming a cross-country team at the school, something only more wealthy schools have.

We see White getting involved in the lives of his students, who work in the fields before and after school each day, running from and to the fields to school. We get to know well the members of his cross-country team, especially Thomas (Carlos Pratt) and the chunky Danny (Ramiro Rodriguez), who is only on the team because they needed seven runners. Danny Mora is excellent as the local store owner, who hasn’t closed his store in years. We see a very close-knit community that White and his family eventually become very close to and an important part of.

Although White’s faith doesn’t come through in the film, it did in a February 18 story in USA Today where the Church of Christ minister now in his 70’s stated “God’s been an important part of my life”. Though the film only shows one prayer, White states “I wanted to be a godly man, and I wanted to be a godly example for the kids”.

I very much enjoyed this family-friendly, well-acted and inspirational film from Disney, and highly recommend it. It will show you the true meaning of “home”.

Kingsman: The Secret Service movieKingsman: The Secret Service, rated R

This film is based on a comic book by Mark Miller and Dave Gibbons, and certainly has references to the James Bond 007 series. After seeing the trailer for the film I was looking forward to seeing it, as it gave the feel of a Marvel film. When I saw that it was rated “R” I was surprised. It turns out that the rating is quite appropriate for the over the top violence, language and a seemingly tacked on nude scene at the end of the film. The film is directed by Matthew Vaughn, who also directed Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class and a few others, none of which we have seen.

Kingsman is portrayed as a small tailor shop in London. In actuality it is a secret spy agency inspired by King Arthur and his knights. Michael Caine stars as Arthur, the Kingsman leader. Colin Firth stars as Harry Hart (code name Galahad). The spy agency is in need of a new recruit and Harry suggests Gary “Uggsy” Unwin, played by Taron Egerton. Uggsy is not your typical Kingsman material. Rather than attending Oxford or Cambridge, he is living an aimless life. He loves his mother, who lives with her abusive boyfriend. But Eggsy’s father, a former Kingsman, saved Harry’s life, and so he takes a chance on the boy, who will need to go through an intensive training and vetting process under Merlin (Mark Strong), to see if he is indeed Kingsman material.

Ohm SymbolSamuel L. Jackson stars as Valentine, the film’s lisping villain, who wears a Hindu ohm symbol throughout the movie. He is an internet billionaire who plans to use technology to control and take over the world. We see one particularly brutal scene in a bigoted church (most likely modeled after Fred Phelp’s Westboro Baptist Church).

The film, is set up for a sequel and a franchise. It includes some creatively filmed action scenes and a good cast. However, the violence, language and completely unnecessary (brief) nudity at the end of the film ruined for me what could have been a fun film to watch.


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Coram Deo: In the Presence of God 2.16.2015

This and That

  • 23 Things That Love Is. Paul Tripp writes “…Here’s a gospel-centered reminder about how to love. But, you don’t have to be romantically in love to find this list practical. Every healthy relationship requires love and sacrifice, so if you’re a parent, child, sibling, neighbor, pastor, or co-worker, this list is for you.”
  • You Can Say No to Porn. Check out this 15 minute video from John Piper in which he (in his own words) makes the wild claim that there is almost no such thing as sexual addiction.
  • No Grey Area. Kevin DeYoung states that “Sex is a wonderful gift from God, but like all gifts it can be repackaged in ugly wrapping.”
  • Fifty Shades of Nay: Sin Is a Needle, Not a Toy. Marshall Segal of Desiring God in writing about the film version of Fifty Shades of Gray which opens this weekend “In a society that downplays the evil of evil, and even glamorizes it, we need to be regularly reminded of the danger of sin. Like a child that discovers a needle on the street and thinks it’s a toy, we can be dangerously naïve about what’s happening in our American entertainment.” He shares ten of God’s promises.
  • Rosaria Butterfield: The Cost of an Unlikely Conversion. From lesbian to pastor’s wife, from anti-Christian researcher to Christ-exalting author, Butterfield’s Saul-to-Paul transformation is no more costly (or likely) than yours or mine . . . but it may be more obvious.
  • How Can Churches Engage Believers and Unbelievers Who Experience Same-Sex Attraction? A lot of wisdom from Sam Allberry, Rosaria Butterfield, Jackie Hill-Perry, and Christopher Yuan.
  • From the Blackest Kid to Believer to the Highest Bench: The Life of Clarence Thomas. John Piper writes “This year Clarence Thomas enters his 25th year on the Supreme Court. In the 226-year history of the court, he is the second African-American Supreme Court Justice, after Thurgood Marshall who served from 1967 to 1991. Clarence Thomas’s life is unusual because he is a black political conservative, who lost his first marriage, conquered rage and alcohol, and survived a high-tech lynching, by holding on to the promises of the Bible.” A Counter Cultural Approach to Poverty Alleviation. Brian Fikkert writes “Space does not permit a complete articulation of all that is entailed in a Christian, counter cultural approach to poverty alleviation, but here are a few tips.”
  • Life, Ministry, and Books with Tim Keller—Part 1: Life. In the first of a three-part interview, Mark Dever interviews Tim Keller about his conversion, what led him to New York City, why the cultural gap between generations has grown exponentially in recent decades, and much more.
  • Ten Principles of Christian Giving. Ligon Duncan shares these helpful biblical principles.
  • Five Tips for Bible Memory. David Mathis writes “Here are five simple tips for doing a February refresh on Scripture memorization.”
  • A Prayer for Resting in God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense. Here’s another wonderful prayer from Scotty Smith.


Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael

Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael




Blog UpdatesI’m Currently ReadingSpurgeon's Sorrows - Zack Eswine

 Book Review ~ Spurgeon’s Sorrows: Realistic Hope for Those Who Suffer from Depression by Zack Eswine


Favorite Quotes of the Week ~ 2.16.2015

  • Christians who see 50 Shades of Grey should be ashamed of themselves. Hard words, but that’s the point of Ephesians 5:3-12. Kevin DeYoung
  • It takes both spouses to say, “My self-centeredness is the main problem in my marriage” to have a great marriage. Tim Keller
  • If you will live like no one else, later you can live and give like no one else. Dave Ramsey
  • I don’t exist to build a genre. I exist to build the Kingdom. Lecrae
  • Prayer is never just an emergency flare or desperate anxious gamble. God’s attention is not based on our performance but parental love. Tim Keller
  • Lone believer in your family? “My father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me in.” Psalm 27:10 John Piper
  • A converted man will not wish to go to heaven alone, J. C. Ryle
  • Contentment may be the most powerful Financial Principle. You can give more, avoid debt, and live better. Dave Ramsey
  • Be Godlike then; and in all ways and by all means so live that all may say of you, ‘He has been with Jesus’. Charles Spurgeon
  • It’s not the elements of our worship that are awesome. It’s the object of our worship Who is awesome. Louie Giglio
  • The law of God cannot be fulfilled by external obedience. Martin Luther
  • In the school of discipleship, suffering for Christ is never an elective course, but a required core class. Steven Lawson
  • The gospel has supernatural versatility to address the particular hopes, fears, and idols of every culture and every person. Tim Keller
  • The church is the only organization in the world where you have to admit you’re a wretched sinner to become a member. Burk Parsons
  • In those moments when I’m obsessively counting my sins against me, it is good news to remember that God has counted my sins against Christ. Tullian Tchividjian
  • Jesus wept, but He never complained. Charles Spurgeon
  • The more I expose myself to the Word of God, the greater my faith will be. R.C. Sproul
  • Adults devise a plan and follow it. Children do what feels good. Maturity is the ability to delay pleasure. Dave Ramsey
  • Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm. Winston Churchill
  • If we’re going to get what Jesus has for us in life, we need to master these two words, yes and no. Dave Kraft
  • Thinking about terrorism this morning and read Psalm 10. Wow. Michael Card
  • God’s Word, when rightly expounded, is medicinal for a whole host of spiritual diseases. Joel Beeke
  • Don’t follow those who can talk a big game about their amazing faith in Christ. Follow people who are actually following Christ. Kevin DeYoung
  • People who know they are not good make the best messengers of grace because they are desperately aware of their own need for it. Tullian Tchividjian
  • The commands of God are given, not to rob me of joy, but lead me into the fullness of joy. Matt Chandler
  • The great need is for us to be taught theologically, not just stirred emotionally. Alistair Begg
  • Paul sees all kinds of sins in himself and all kinds of accomplishments too, but he refuses to connect them with his identity. Tim Keller
  • The Spirit who clothed Christ in our flesh and in consummated glory now clothes us with Christ! Michael Horton
  • If you want to be relevant in any country or culture, preach the gospel. Burk Parsons
  • It is not your hold of Christ that saves you, it is Christ’s hold of you. Charles Spurgeon
  • There are ministers who never speak of repentance or self-denial. Naturally they are popular, but they are false prophets. J. I. Packer
  • Surely the greatest social injustice is that 2 billion people haven’t heard of God’s love in Christ. David Platt
  • When I do something stupid with money and lose it….I call that Stupid Tax. I have paid so much Stupid Tax that I am expert. Dave Ramsey
  • The more you listen, the smarter you are. Great questions are actually great answers. Brad Lomenick
  • Some of us are memory haunted. Horror left its stain. Broken brained we need mercy not scolding, a grace that won’t quit. Zack Eswine

integrating faith and work

  •  A Living Testimony. This devotion from the Lead Like Jesus folks states “Leading like Jesus begins within us, with a personal transformation of heart, head, hands, and habits. Our changed lives become a living testimony to the difference that knowing and living in relationship with Jesus makes. Without this, our leadership words and actions are hollow at the core, no matter how much we say about serving others or how often we say the name of Jesus. Let Him transform you, inside and out.
  • The Unlikely Leader. I appreciated this short devotional on Moses from the Lead Like Jesus folks
  • Be a Leader at Work. Dave Ramsey looks at leadership qualities that are easy to adopt into your current work style.
  • 5 Warning Signs You’re Leading With a Wounded Spirit. Randy Conley writesLeadership begins on the inside, and what’s on the inside eventually comes out. If your inner life is in order, healthy leadership practices will follow. If you’re leading with a wounded spirit that will be clear as well.”
  • How to Turn a Loss into a Win. John Maxwell shares content from his upcoming book Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn for Teens
  • Why You Should Do More Than Expected.  John Maxwell writes “Instead of just meeting expectations, you can make it your goal to exceed them. That’s where the joy is. And it’s where lasting impact can be found.”
  • If It Ain’t Broke, Break It! Dan Miller writes “While this phrase may violate your English grammar, it embraces what we know about today’s work environment. What can you find in your life today that ain’t broke, and how are you going to break it?”
  • Before You Click “Send” On Your Next Email. Dan King writes “So before you click send on your next email, re-read what you’re about to send. How does your choice of words speak life into the person on the other side of the conversation? How does your tone and attitude in the conversation work towards unity? Does the email foster community or difference?”
  • How to Deal with Honest Self-Deception. Dan Rockwell provides seven signs of self-deception and then some honest self-reflection.
  • Foundations of Emotional Intelligence. In this Tuesday Tip, Dr. Alan Zimmerman writes “When your Emotional Intelligence is high, your life, your relationships, and your career work so much better. The question is, how can you raise your Emotional Intelligence? It is totally possible and not all that difficult.”
  • More Faith@Work Summit Videos. Here are four more videos on technology and workplace ethics, discipleship, and evangelism.
  • Lost Jobs, Found Church. The march of technology is relentless, and it is always both creating and destroying jobs. It brings many blessings—spiritual and material—but also great costs. Greg Forster offers a few things the church can be for those whose jobs are eliminated or endangered by technological change.
  • Why Are You Feeling Stuck In Your Job? C. Patton writes “It is my belief that too many people struggle with their work for one simple reason…. Either they have forgotten their true “Why” or they have the wrong “Why”.”
  • 12 Keys for Successfully Starting something New. Brad Lomenick writes “Are you starting a new organization? A Church Planter? Entrepreneur? Involved in a small organization just getting started? Here are some tips for getting started.
  • Five Things to Stop Doing in 2015. J.B. Wood provides his own list of five things that he will stop doing in 2015.
  • What are your goals for 2015? They may be too small. Bill Peel writes “As you begin 2015, what are you dreaming about? Here are some verses that will encourage us to dream.
  • Be Happy at Work. Dave Ramsey writes “Being content with your job is one of the most important issues you can deal with in your career. No one wants to feel like they’re stuck in a job they hate. Here are 10 tips for making your workplace a happy place”.

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

The Conviction to Lead by Albert MohlerThe Conviction to Lead Book Club

The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership That Matters by Albert Mohler

We’re reading this excellent book from Albert Mohler, one of the best that I’ve read on leadership. It is broken down into 25 relatively short chapters. Won’t you read along with us? This week we look at Chapter 5: Leaders Understand Worldviews.

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Coram Deo 2.11.2015

Coram Deo 2.11.2015

Blog UpdatesBook Review ~ Rebounding from Death’s Door by Jeff Elliot

I’m Currently Reading

 Music Review ~ Shadows in the Night – Bob Dylan

This and ThatBOOKS:



  • InterVarsity Victory in Sex Discrimination Case Is Good News for All Parachurch Ministries. InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF) can set and enforce hiring practices based on its Christian faith, the SixTH Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on February 5.
  • 15 Black Christian Leaders You Should Know. Corrie Mitchell gives us a list of black Christian leaders shaping the face of the church. The list includes favorites such as Lecrae, Propaganda and Thabiti Anyabwile.
  • Disney offers peek at ‘Frozen Fever’ short. Even the most ardent Frozen obsessives can watch the movie only so many times before craving new details about the story’s next chapter. And, like snowflakes floating down from the heavens, here they are.
  • Scott Walker Learned Early Lessons at His Father’s Iowa Church. Before presidential candidate Scott Walker stood on a national stage, he crawled beneath the wooden pews and white steeple of First Baptist Church. His father preached and his mother ran the Sunday school.
  • Buying a Bestseller. It’s now well known that Pastor Mark and his former church used nearly $250,000 in church funds to buy one of Driscoll’s books onto The New York Times bestseller list. Now according to former employee George Hale, David Jeremiah’s ministry, Turning Point, purchased copies of at least three of Jeremiah’s books to push them onto The New York Times bestseller list. Turning Point Ministries “voluntarily resigned” its membership in the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability on Jan. 31, 2010. ECFA’s Dan Busby said the organization has a policy of not giving reasons for an organization’s resignation, but Hale said the book-buying scheme was the key reason for the resignation from ECFA membership.
World Magazine cartoon

Courtesy of World Magazine

This cartoon from World Magazine captures an inflammatory comment our President made at the National Prayer Breakfast last Thursday when he compared the atrocities of ISIS to the bloodshed committed in the name of Christianity in centuries past. “Lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ,” Mr. Obama said.


  • My Spouse Doesn’t Enjoy Sex. Tony Reinke of Desiring God writes that they frequently get questions from Ask Pastor John podcast listeners in marriages who find themselves coping with different sexual interests. He addresses one question from Steve. The article also includes a link to John Piper’s full response to Steve’s question.
  • For Years I Pleaded With God To Make Me Straight, So Why Did My Prayers Go Unanswered? Matt Moore writes “Homosexual desire – and all other sinful desire — exists in the hearts of people because worship of God doesn’t. So why didn’t God answer my prayer to rid me of my homosexual desires? Because homosexual desires were not my main problem. They were a problem, for sure. But the root of my problem was that I didn’t love God or worship Him, and my homosexual desires were just fruit of that, so to speak. God’s desire was to fix the root of my issues.
  • How to Love a Loved One with Mental Illness. Heather Palacios and her husband Raul share about mental illness in their marriage and how Raul has loved Heather faithfully throughout their marriage.
  • The “Plus One” Approach to Church. Kevin DeYoung writes “In addition to the Sunday morning worship service, pick one thing in the life of your congregation and be very committed to it.”
  • Revisiting 5 Evangelical Trends in this Decade. Trevin Wax writes “In 2011, I listed five trends in evangelicalism that, apart from a catastrophe or a revival in the United States, were likely to become increasingly evident in this decade. Now that we are halfway through the 2010’s, I’d like to revisit that post and see whether things have played out as I thought.”
  • Perspectives that are All the More Important When You Lose. Randy Alcorn writes “I encourage you to watch the following video featuring some Christ-followers I really appreciate, some of whom I know personally. If the men in this video had won the Super Bowl, as they did last year, I think their words might be taken as health and wealth gospel—“We’ve won the big game, so you should listen to us.” No, they LOST the big game on Sunday, but what they share remains 100% true. We usually feel the need for God more when we deal with our losses than when we celebrate our gains. Therefore what they have to say is if anything more significant, not less.
  • More Highly Than You Ought. Paul Tripp writes “I’m deeply persuaded that we’re addicted to the pursuit of self-glory because, when we look in the mirror, we think we see someone who deserves to be glorified. Instead of using the mirror of God’s Word to keep our judgment sober, we see an aggrandized version of who the Bible says we actually are. I’ve found that there are four common factors that contribute to this distorted view of self.”
  • The Problem with Your Choices. Barry Cooper of Desiring God writes “Making choices and moving on with our lives seems increasingly difficult. We find ourselves paralyzed: unable to make choices about relationships, dating, marriage, money, family, and career. I want to suggest that if we feel unable to make these choices, it’s not because we have the wrong accent. It may be because we’re worshiping the wrong god.”
  • A Prayer for Trusting God with Things We Can’t Control. Another wonderful prayer from Scotty Smith.


Doug Michael Cartoon

Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael

Favorite Quotes of the Week ~ 2.9.2015

  • There is no halfway or lackadaisical way to fight lust. If you’re not fighting your sin, you’re befriending your sin. Trip Lee
  • Grace is only exciting to those who know they’re wretched sinners. Burk Parsons
  • God’s wrath was not just withdrawn. It was spent. Full atonement can it be? Hallelujah, what a Savior! Kevin DeYoung
  •  The peace of God is first and foremost peace with God. J.I. Packer
  • The question is not whether or not you will face trials. The question is, how will you respond when you do? Trip Lee
  • Important reminder: It’s not fair of you to demand more proof of Christians for their beliefs than you demand for your own. Tim Keller
  • We do not believe in order to be regenerated; we must be regenerated in order that we might believe. Keith Mathison
  • What we do with our lives every day, whether at school, a desk job, or keeping the home in order, is our most basic opportunity to glorify God. That’s what your role in His story looks like day in and day out. Instead of waiting to be offered a new role, play the current one well. Trip Lee
  • The most important daily habit we can possess is to remind ourselves of the gospel. Charles Spurgeon
  • Here’s the grey rule: embrace things that lead you closer to Jesus, and reject things that lead you away from Jesus.  Trip Lee
  • Sometimes God has to remind you that you’re weak so that you can be set free from your “self-sufficiency.” Tullian Tchividjian
  • If you have to run away from something that used to be an idol, you’re actually still enslaved by it. It’s still controlling you. Tim Keller
  • There will be no peace in any soul until it is willing to obey the voice of God. D.L. Moody
  • There is no life so deeply and tragically sinful that it’s beyond the reach of God’s amazing rescuing grace. Paul Tripp
  • If ever there were a time there was nothing, there would be nothing now. R.C. Sproul
  • At the root of our porn problem is discontentment with God’s plan for our sexuality. Trip Lee
  • Father, may our repentances be far more notorious today than our gripes and criticisms. Fill us with your grace and kindness. Scotty Smith
  • Only true remorse and “Will you forgive me?” can press the reset button. Andy Andrews
  • God doesn’t slack his promises because of our sins or hasten them because of our righteousness. He pays no attention to either. Martin Luther
  • Self-righteousness is the fruit of a low view of God’s law and a lite view of your own sin. Tullian Tchividjian
  • God does not give us everything we want, but He does fulfill His promises, leading us along the best and straightest paths to Himself. Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  • God’s promises are not fortune cookies. We do not use them in order to get a spiritual “fix” for the day. Sinclair Ferguson
  • Beware of putting all your focus into results. While results are important, your people should be your number one area of focus. Ken Blanchard

  • Our Work and Life’s Meaning. Richard Doster writes “As we make sales, teach math, write laws, and design buildings, we’re certain that God is sustaining all things by His powerful Word (Hebrews 1:2-3). We work with the confidence that He’s present in all we do — working through us to accomplish His will on earth, just as it is in Heaven.”
  • Stoking the Fire Inside. Bob Chapman writes “As a truly human leader, don’t step back from the heat. Bring the kindling to help light the fire inside your team.”
  • Why Leaders Must Avoid These 10 ‘Credibility Killers’. Scott Cochrane shares this helpful list in a short article.
  • How to Beat Anxiety: The Simple Realizations That Erase Our Stress. On this podcast, Andy Andrews talks about the myths that keep us living in fear, and how to stop anxiety from ruling our lives.
  • Giving Himself Away. Check out this excerpt from Steven Garber’s excellent book Visions of Vocation.
  • 10 Ways to Get Where You Want to Go. Dan Rockwell shares this helpful list in a short article.
  • What about Work and Vacation? Andrew Spencer writes “There is biblical warrant for vacation and rest during the week found in the concept of Sabbath. For contemporary Christians, this usually won’t necessarily look like inactivity from Friday evening to Saturday evening. It does point toward a pattern of incorporating rest into our weekly routines and taking advantage of our vacation benefits when we have the opportunity. If we are truly working hard at our vocations for the Lord, then we should be able to rest and enjoy the fruit of our labor “as much and as oft as may be.” This we can do for God’s glory and the good of those around us.”
  • The Leader Who Can Execute. Dave Kraft looks at “Execute”, one of the five essential characteristics of a leader that former GE CEO Jack Welch writes about in his book Winning.
  • To Stay Focused, Manage Your Emotions. Ed Batista writes “A leader’s most precious resource is not their time. It’s their focused attention. Leaders must recognize that it’s essential to work at enhancing their ability to direct their attention and minimize unhelpful distractions, and one of the most important steps in this process is managing emotions.”
  • The 8 Skills Every Great Leader Must Master. Peter Economy writes “The good news is that you can learn and master these skills of great leadership, too. Follow this roadmap to up your own leadership game.”
  • Pete Carroll and the Pain of Leadership. Eric Geiger writes “In the span of a minute Carroll went from being lauded with praise to being lamented with criticism. In a matter of moments, he moved from being applauded as a genius to being called an idiot. Leadership is deeply challenging at all times, and painful at many times. Watching the end of the Super Bowl reminded me that leadership is deeply painful for at least three reasons.”
  • The 7 Reasons We Fail. Harvey Mackay writes about the most common failure-causing problems and their solutions.
  • 7 Keys to Instant Rapport. In this “Tuesday Tip” from Dr. Alan Zimmerman,  he writes “It’s critical, because in today’s time-crunched world, you no longer have the luxury of spending days and weeks around one another, gradually getting acquainted, and eventually building some trust.  You’ve got to make things “click” now.”
  • God Didn’t Design Us for Busy. Businesswoman Lara Casey talks about finding meaning beyond to-do lists and packed schedules.
  • How God Makes a Pencil. Joe Carter writes “When we engage in economic activity we are not only serving our fellow humans but also cooperating as sub-creators with God. Without him we couldn’t even produce tools for scratching words on paper. While we may be the means he uses, only God knows how to make a pencil.”
  • 2 Ways Leaders Should Learn from their Experiences. Eric Geiger writes “Leaders who care about their own personal development are like sponges to an array of resources in order to acquire new knowledge and skills. They will read books, consider continuing education, attend conferences, and scour articles that have been sent to them by their leaders. While these are important and can be very helpful, nothing compares to the learning that comes through experience.”
  • What Does God Want? Dave Williamson writes that the high calling of our daily work is being faithful to doing love. Faith@Work Summit videos. Here are a few videos from the Faith@Work Summit including Katherine Leary Alsdorf (who wrote Every Good Endeavor with Tim Keller) on why faith at work is important.
  • The Surprising Voice Influencing Your Leadership Decisions. Scott Cochrane writes “The point is that effective leadership requires understanding these hidden values, what they’re whispering in your ear. Because when you are aware of these hidden values you can recognize whether they are helping, or hurting, your decisions.”
  • Greed is just another word for fear. This article is about what it means to trust God as an HVAC contractor.
  • Forgiveness and Accountability in the Workplace. Mike Chalk writes “Whenever people live or work together, they need to practice forgiveness because we humans are imperfect. No group can function long before someone breaks a promise and lets others down.”
  • Caring for the Nearest Neighbors. Courtney Reissig interviews Miriam Poteet, a wife and stay-at-home mom to three little girls. In 2012, she earned her PhD in applied mathematics from the Air Force Institute of Technology and chose to stay at home to serve her husband and family during a busy season of life.
  • See Work Through New Eyes—Theology of Work Commentary: Romans-Revelation Now Available in Print. The Theology of Work Bible Commentary, Volume 5: Romans-Revelation is now available in print for the first time. If you’ve ever wondered about God’s direction for your work, the TOW Commentary is a good place to start. The commentary can be used for bible study or as a reference for myriad work-related topics.
  • A Sacred Calling for Sacred Work. Watch this video from J. Richard Middleton is Professor of Biblical Worldview and Exegesis at Northeastern Seminary in Rochester, NY.
  • Missing the Point on Motivation. When it comes to improving employee engagement, motivation expert Susan Fowler believes that leaders are spending too much time trying to fix disengagement after it occurs instead of questioning approaches to motivation that may have led to it in the first place.

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

Generous Justice Book Club  

Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just by Tim Keller

Tammy and I are reading and discussing this book by Tim Keller. This week we look at Chapter 3: What Did Jesus Say about Justice?

The Conviction to Lead by Albert MohlerThe Conviction to Lead Book Club

The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership That Matters by Albert Mohler

We’re reading this excellent book from Albert Mohler, one of the best that I’ve read on leadership. It is broken down into 25 relatively short chapters. Won’t you read along with us? This week we look at Chapter 4: Leadership Is Narrative.

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Coram Deo – Under the Gaze of God

Ernie BanksRemembering Ernie Banks

Even though I’m a St. Louis Cardinal fan, I had the utmost respect for Chicago Cubs Hall of Famer Ernie Banks, who died last week. Banks was my brother’s favorite player growing up and there was no better ambassador for major league baseball.

It’s a beautiful day for a ballgame…
Let’s play two! ~ Ernie Banks



~ UPDATED PAGES ON THE BLOG ~Learning from the Giants

Book Review: Learning from the Giants: Life and Leadership Lessons from the Bible by John C. Maxwell

This book guides you through thinking about the giants of the faith and the messages they had for us ~ Elijah: God loves you on your bad days. Elisha: Give your best wherever God puts you. Job: God sees the big picture. Jacob: Let God have control of your life. Deborah: God specializes in the unexpected. Isaiah: God has a reason for your encounter with Him. Jonah: God always gives us a second chance. Joshua: God is greater than your greatest challenges. Daniel: Have a purpose bigger than yourself.

 I’m Currently Reading

~ THIS AND THAT ~Everyone's a Theologian - R.C. Sproul



  • The “Rise” of Rapper and Pastor Trip Lee. A Q&A with Trip Lee on pastoring, porn, and John Piper. Trip Lee is one of my favorite music artists. At 27, he is also a pastor and recently released his second book.
  • New Ringo Starr Album. Postcards from Paradise, the 18th solo album by the former Beatles drummer will be released March 31. The album will featuring eleven new and original songs, and guests including Joe Walsh, Dave Steward, Richard Marx, Peter Frampton and many others.


THEOLOGY ~ Knowing God:

  • By Grace, We are Free in Christ. Sinclair Ferguson writes “Jesus Christ is able to set us free because He has dealt with the sin that enslaves us.”
  • How to Offend a Room Full of Calvinists. Tim Challies writes “Do you want to know how to make a Calvinist angry? Do you want to know how to offend a whole room full of them? Just bring up the old line about Reformed theology being incompatible with evangelism. We have all heard it, we have all read it, we have all rejected it.”
  • Does James 2:24 Deny Justification by Faith Alone? R.C. Sproul writes “I’m convinced that we don’t really have a conflict here.”
  • The God-man or a Madman? Jon Bloom of Desiring God writes “You can’t be neutral when it comes to Jesus. He doesn’t give you that luxury. If you really listen to what he says, you either need to believe that he is the Preeminent Son of God and worship him, or you need to get as far away from him as you can. He demands a hot or cold response and spews anything lukewarm (Revelation 3:15–16).
  • Why the Prosperity Gospel Is the Worst Pyramid Scheme Ever. Nicholas McDonald shares how the prosperity gospel, sometimes known as the health and wealth gospel, is strikingly similar to a pyramid scheme in at least three ways.
  • If the Lord Marks Iniquity, Who Should Stand? R.C. Sproul writes “The Psalmist asked the question: “If the Lord marks iniquity, who should stand?” This query is obviously rhetorical. The only answer, indeed the obvious answer is no one.”


  • To the Church in America Today. Watch this seven minute video clip in which John Piper speaks directly to the hearts of Christians who feel increasingly unwelcome and alien in the America we know today. Stop expecting everything to go well. Stop trying to fit in here. Instead, fuel your life with the invincible and eternal hope of knowing Jesus Christ forever.
  • A Prayer for Resting in the Sovereignty of God. Here’s another wonderful prayer from Scotty Smith.
  • 13 Ways You Waste Your Money. Tim Challies writes “About once a year I go through a phase—a deliberate phase—in which I evaluate our family finances to see where we’re doing well and where we aren’t doing so well. I especially look for places we are spending money we don’t need to spend—bills that are too high, subscriptions we no longer need, and all of those little money-wasters that eventually add up. And over the years, I’ve collected quite a list of ways that we, and perhaps you, waste money.” He asks “Where do you find that you are tempted to waste money?”
  • God Works All Things for Your Good. Marshall Segal of Desiring God writes “In this three-part series through Romans 8:28, John Piper mines layer after layer of comfort and strength from this dense promise. If you’ve never reflected on this verse, you will be stunned by its power and relevance for your life. And if you have known it, maybe even memorized it, we believe you will discover new depths of God’s sovereign love for you.”
  • May Jesus’s Name Be Known Through Me. Marshall Segal of Desiring God writes “God will reveal his fame even through his bread-less, bag-less, penniless, but faithful followers. God will exalt the name of his Son through us — going before us in the hearts of our listeners, then sending us to speak the good news to them, all the while promising to go with us and provide us with everything we need along the way, and finally fulfilling and completing all that he calls us to do. Jesus’s name will be known, and believed, and treasured. May it happen through me.”

Favorite Quotes of the Week ~ 2.2.2015

  • 10 of Winston Churchill’s Best Quotes. The fiftieth anniversary of Churchill’s death was last week.
  • Some of us are memory haunted. Horror left its stain. Broken brained we need mercy not scolding, a grace that won’t quit. Zack Eswine
  • Being productive is not just about getting things done. It’s about being a useful person, making a contribution, and leaving things better than you found them.   Matt Perman
  • You will never see the preciousness of a Savior, if you do not see the reality of your sin. Kevin DeYoung
  • Here’s one way I can know that I’ve forgotten the gospel of grace: when your sin bothers me more than my sin. Tullian Tchividjian
  • To honor God as God, we must worship Him as He and He alone decrees.  R.C. Sproul
  • If you don’t feel like praying, pray to God to give you the desire. Tim Keller
  • God calls you to the kind of work that you need most to do, and that the world most needs to have done . . . the place God calls you is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet. Frederick Buechner
  • Our aim is to joyfully magnify Christ—to make him look great by all we do. Boasting only in the cross, our aim is to enjoy making much of him by the way we work. John Piper
  • When it is the Lord’s work in which we rejoice, we need not be afraid of being too glad. Charles Spurgeon
  • We are so quick to tweet, Facebook, and Instagram but we treat prayer with a sense of delay? Tim Keller
  • When we turn a godly passion for excellence into an idol of our own self-justification, we miss the truly radical thing God is doing. Michael Horton
  • As we’ve been forgiven, accepted, and loved in Christ, so let us do so to others. That’s the surest sign we “get” the gospel. Scotty Smith
  • God doesn’t need our good works, but our neighbor does. Martin Luther
  • The only Christian work is good work well done. Dorothy Sayers
  • The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good. Samuel Johnson
  • If it falls to your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep the streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, like Shakespeare wrote poetry, like Beethoven composed music; sweep streets so well that all the host of Heaven and earth will have to pause and say, “Here lived a great street sweeper, who swept his job well.” Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Sin will usher in the greatest and the saddest losses that can be upon our souls. Thomas Brooks 
  • Instead of starting with our plans and dreams, we need to begin with God, who freely created, sustains, and directs history to his ends. Michael Horton
  • Unchecked, the new tolerance will sooner or later put many people in chains.” D.A. Carson
  • Talk is cheap. When all is said and done, a lot more is said than done. Dave Kraft
  • I believe one of the next great moves of God is going to be through the believers in the workplace. Billy Graham
  • Christians necessarily believe we depend on God for everything—a prayerless Christian, then, is a contradiction in terms. Tim Keller
  • There is no way to work your way to God. There is no way to climb up to heaven. There is only one way, and that is through Christ. Kevin DeYoung
  • When we behold the face of God, all memories of pain and suffering will vanish. Our souls shall be totally healed. R.C. Sproul
  • You are not what you have. You are not what you do. You are not what other people say about you. You are the Beloved! Henri Nouwen
  • Father, free us from under-believing the gospel and over-believing our worries. Scotty Smith
  • If you feel compelled to respond every time you’re criticized it reveals just how much you’ve built your identity on being right. Tullian Tchividjian
  • The hand of the wicked can’t stir one moment before God allows them to begin, and…one moment after God commands them to stop. J.C. Ryle
  • The joys of heaven will surely compensate for the sorrows of earth.” Charles Spurgeon
  • The more we see our own flaws and sins, the more precious, electrifying, and amazing God’s grace appears. Tim Keller
  • Some of you are sitting at home saying, ‘I don’t need a church to love God,’ and I am here telling you that you are so wrong. Francis Chan
  • So here’s some relief to perfectionists out there: Give up! Stop climbing and fall into God’s gracious arms. Michael Horton
  • Walking in the light means we pursue obedience and are honest about our remaining darkness. Kevin DeYoung
  • Christians are defined not by our heritage, but by our mission; not by our blood, but by His. Mark Dever.
  • The church is not full of hypocrites. It’s full of repentant sinners. Huge difference. Burk Parsons.
  • Do your best to succeed and push the limits without violating them. Ken Blanchard
  • We will either deal with our “stuff” or our “stuff” will continue to deal with us. Scotty Smith
  • Suffering can serve us. Suffering tests our trust in God’s promises. And we have a great interest in knowing the truth about our trust in Him. Mark Dever
  • That fact that Jesus Christ died is more important than that fact that I will die. Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  • Sometimes God has to remind you that you’re a sinner so that you can be set free from your self-righteousness. Tullian Tchividjian

  • Seattle Seahawks Assistant Coach: “Jesus is Better Than the Super Bowl”. David Daniels interviews Seattle Seahawks Assistant Coach Rocky Seto about football and his faith.
  • Competing for God’s Glory on the Gridiron. Matt Perman interviews Kurt Earl, a teacher and a coach at Lincoln Christian School in Lincoln, Nebraska.
  • John Maxwell on confrontation. In this “Minute with Maxwell”, John Maxwell talks about confrontation.
  • All Things Well. The February 2015 issue of TableTalk has a theme of Labor and Rest: Finding the Right Balance. In Burk Parson’s Coram Deo article, he writes “As Christians, we are called to labor well and rest well, and only when we do both as God has directed us will we find the right balance in life.”
  • Portrait of a Better World: Gene Cornelius. Bob Chapman writes “Gene wants all his teammates to find their work meaningful. He wants them to go home at the end of the day feeling valued, that their contribution made a difference. And as a leader, he wants to help facilitate that feeling in his team.”
  • This Four Letter Word will Determine Your Future. In this Tuesday Tip, Dr. Alan Zimmerman looks at how to get hope working for you.
  • Faith and Work Ministries. Here’ a helpful list of ministries — local, national, and international — focused on faith and work compiled by the Center for Faith and Work at LeTourneau University.
  • 7 Characteristics of Good Employees. Brad Lomenick offers 7 keys   to help us be a better employee, partner, or peer to others in our organizations.
  • Pastor, Why Not Visit Their Workplace? Greg Forster writes “If you’re a pastor, every week congregants visit you in your workplace and watch you do your job. Part of your job is to prepare them to take what they learn from you in your workplace and carry it back to their own workplaces. Wherever they do their work—on the job or in the home—they need your support to persevere in honesty, diligence, self-control, and generosity, in the midst of terrible brokenness. One of the most important things you can do for them is return the favor. They visit you in your workplace regularly. Why not visit them in theirs?
  • Four Things to Do When You Make a Mistake at Work. David Rupert shares four things we must do when we make a mistake at work.
  • What Makes a Good Life. Steven Garber in comparing the lead characters from the films It’s a Wonderful Life and Birdman writes “At the end of his film, George is surrounded by a community of family and friends who gather round, singing a glad song that remembers to remember the truest truths of a good life. When all is said and done, all the Birdman has is himself, and at the end of the day and the end of the film, that isn’t enough.” In his book, Charlie Self specifically challenges Pentecostal believers, calling them to a level of discipleship that integrates faith, work, and economics so that believers view their work in light of God’s design for flourishing their communities”.
  • Stay in Your Own Lane or Own the Whole? Eric Geiger writes “Perhaps you have had a leader challenge you to “stay in your lane.” Whether your mind conjured up a football analogy or lanes on an interstate, you got the message. Quit trying to lead everyone else’s area, and focus on yours. And perhaps you heard a different message in a different meeting when the leader told the team, “Everyone must help shoulder this. We all must own this. So which one is it? Do I stay in my lane or do I own the whole? And if you are a leader, you may have wondered, Which message do I deliver? Both.”
  • Bringing faith and work and people together: Flourishing Churches and Communities by Charlie Self. Mikel Del Rosario writes “In his book (Flourishing Churches and Communities), Charlie Self specifically challenges Pentecostal believers, calling them to a level of discipleship that integrates faith, work, and economics so that believers view their work in light of God’s design for flourishing their communities.”
  • How to Stay Relevant in a Constantly Changing Marketplace. Michael Hyatt writes “Instead of obsolescence, we can take steps to ensure ongoing relevance. Here are seven ways to stay relevant in today’s marketplace. I’ve seen these work in my own life and also the lives of people I’ve coached.”
  • A Call to Transform Our Work and Professions. Stacy Jackson writes “The high calling to work is a call to transform our organizations, our jobs, and our responsibilities. It is a call to consider how industries such as banking, consulting, education, and manufacturing must change. It is also a call to explore a right view of strategic planning, marketing, finance, sales, and various other valuable roles. Our work cannot remain the same when we recognize its eternal purpose. Once we realize the high calling of our work, the real work begins.”
  • Is There Room in Our Theology of Work for Rest and Recreation? Andrew Spencer writes “In many ways, the culture in which we live has lost sight of a vision of work that resonates with what we see in Scripture. Two aspects of this vision that we’ve forgotten are rest and recreation. Though work has been part of God’s design for humans since the very beginning, there is a place in a theology of work for understanding the importance of these things.
  • Are You TOO Nice? 4 Ways to Be Compassionate and Fair. Madeleine Homan Blanchard writes “As a manager, you really do have to be kind and understanding when people go through rough times. But you also need to balance sympathy for the needs of an employee with common sense about the needs of the team and the business.” She offers four ideas that may help.
  • Patrick Lencioni: How to Make Your Company Healthy and Wealthy. Is it possible to have a company where politics are minimized, clarity is king, and team members are passionate about what they do? Absolutely. Listen this this episode of the EntreLeadership Podcast.
  • Danger: Highly Flammable! This article from Christian Faith at Work states that the “bottom line is that we have to see the spiritually ‘flammable’ potential in our business.”
  • 3 Lies that can Shipwreck a Leader. Here’s a short but helpful article from Scott Cochrane.
  • Four Things All Leaders Should be Fearful of and Protect Themselves From. Dave Kraft writes “There are things every leader should be genuinely and honestly fearful of and seeking protection from. Here are four that I have been thinking about.”
  • What Should be the Legacy of a Successful Leader? John Maxwell writes “I believe the greatest legacy a leader can leave is having developed other leaders.”
  • 7 Good Reasons for a Leader to Learn and Use the Word “No”. Ron Edmondson writes “I hate disappointing people. And every time I say the word “No”, someone isn’t happy with my answer. That’s reality”.
  • What Does a Leader Do? Matt Perman, quoting Marcus Buckingham, writes that “A great leader does not control people, he rallies them. He rallies them to realize and bring about a vision of a better future.”
  • Five Ways to Expand Your Leadership Potential. Ron Edmondson writes “In my experience, my leadership influence grows the fastest when it grows through the people I’m supposed to be leading.”

    Christian Cartoon

    Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael

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

The Conviction to Lead by Albert MohlerThe Conviction to Lead Book Club

The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership That Matters by Albert Mohler

We’re reading this excellent book from Albert Mohler, one of the best that I’ve read on leadership. It is broken down into 25 relatively short chapters. Won’t you read along with us? This week we look at Chapter 3 Convictional Intelligence.

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Movie Review ~ Hoovey

Hoovey Movie

Hoovey, rated PG

Seeing this film last night was unlike any movie experience I’ve ever had – and I see a lot of movies! First of all, the story is about a local family. I don’t know them, but some of my team members do, and have gone to church with them in the past. Second, the world premiere of the film was held January 31 in the historic Normal Theater in “Uptown Normal” Third, the family was present at the theater visiting with the packed crowd before the film and then speaking afterwards, including taking questions from the audience. And fourth, you could purchase the DVD of the movie after the showing. Last night’s showing (ticket and DVD sales) benefited Parkside Junior High School, located across the street from our home. It was quite a festive atmosphere at the Normal Theater. So what about the actual movie?

The film is directed by Sean McNamara, who you may remember best as being the director of the 2011 film Soul Surfer, and is based on Jeff Elliot’s book Rebounding from Death’s Door. The film was shot over a period of just twenty days with an estimated budget of $2 million. In comparison, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies had an estimated budget of $250 million!

Hoovey is Eric Elliot (he got the nickname as a toddler when he got his hand stuck inside a Hoover vacuum cleaner). He is played by Cody Linley from the Hannah Montana television series. He has a great life with his sister Jennifer, played by Alyson Stoner, and dad Jeff, played by Patrick Warburton, who many will remember as Elaine’s boyfriend David Puddy on Seinfeld and the television series Rules of Engagement, and mom Ruth, played by Lauren Holly from NCIS. They live on a farm and Hoovey loves playing basketball at nearby Olympia High School where Charles Robinson from Night Court portrays his coach, Coach Wilson. Brandon Smith portrays Donovan, the new talented player on the team.

Life changes for the Elliot family when Hoovey starts having headaches and blurred/double vision. It’s eventually determined that he has a brain tumor. The film follows Hoovey and his family through that trial and the resulting financial impact the medical bills have on them. Glenn Morshower (24 and The West Wing) portrays his likeable neurosurgeon Dr. Kattner. At times the Elliots question why these hardships have come their way. Through it all, their faith remains strong and central to their story. The film also shows a strong commitment to family.

Like any film, this one takes some creative license. So the film you see will not be exactly as Jeff Elliot’s book portrays Hoovey’s story. For locals, it was fun seeing the local hospital, water tower and Jeff’s Normal Fire Department portrayed.   Each of the Elliot family members appear in the film as extras. The film was shot in Texas, and the house used to depict the Elliot’s Shirley, Illinois home is the same farmhouse that was featured in the 1984 Oscar winning film Places in the Heart, starring Sally Field.

This inspirational film will be an excellent one for church youth groups or families to watch together.