Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

THIS & THAT and Favorite Quotes of the Week

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Starting the New Year:

  • 4 Christian Principles for Making New Year’s Resolutions. Burk Parsons writes “We would therefore do well to consider (Jonathan) Edwards’ prefatory remarks as we seek to glorify God and enjoy Him forever in our churches, our homes, and our hearts.”
  • Bible Reading Plans for 2018. Nathan W. Bingham has compiled a list of helpful Bible reading plans for you to choose from.
  • Get a Basic Overview of the Bible. R.C. Sproul writes “Virtually every Christian at some point has resolved to read the entire Bible. If we believe the Bible is the Word of God, it’s natural not to want to miss a word of it.”
  • 7 New Year Resolutions That Could Change Our World. Ron Edmondson writes “Whether or not you do New Year resolutions, we could all stand to improve some things in our life. And, if we do, I’m confident we could also improve the life of others.”
  • Keep Technology in Its Proper Place in 2018. Andy Crouch writes “The proper place for technology won’t be exactly the same for every family, and it isn’t the same at every season of our lives. Figuring out the proper place for technology in our particular family and stage of life requires discernment rather than a simple formula.”
  • Ask God to Rebuild What is Broken. Marshall Segal writes “If God can rebuild a relationship with us ripped apart by sin, and replant and revive souls like ours dead in sin, what new thing could he do in your life this year — in your family, in your workplace, in your neighborhood, in our nation, in you?”
  • A Gospel-Shaped 2018. Scotty Smith prays “Heavenly Father, whether or not 2018 is going to be a “happy” New Year, remains to be seen. But as in 2017, there won’t be a day this year you’ll fail to send us new mercies and give us sufficient grace. You’ll steadfastly delight in us, and rejoice over us with singing, no matter the happenstance, circumstances, or providences. Because of Jesus’ finished work, your love for us is irrepressible, immeasurable, and inexhaustible. That will be the most predictable and reliable truth in 2018. Hallelujah!”
  • New Year, New Beginnings: The Importance of Considering Our Ways. Melissa Kruger writes “There’s something refreshing about beginning a new year. It’s a time to reflect on the past year and refocus our goals for the upcoming year. I find it helpful to get away for an hour or two and spend some time in prayer, asking the Lord to guide me as I consider the time he’s given.”
  • A New Year, A New Bible Reading Plan. In this episode of the “Ask Pastor John” podcast, John Piper responds to the question Can you make a case for the discipline? Name the plan you use. Explain why you like it. Explain the pace of reading. And maybe what you’ve learned after doing this for so many years.”
  • Marry the Bible This Year. David Mathis writesMarrying the Bible is not a sequestering pursuit. As God fills us with the spiritual life and joy He imparts to us through His word, He will put a word in our mouth and make our meal all the more filling as we pass it around to others. The dominoes will begin falling as the word of God comes into its central, initiating, energizing place in our souls.”
  • Another New Year Knocks. Marshall Segal writes “The reason many of us feel so insecure and anxious at the end of another year is that we’ve taken gifts meant to lead us to God, and looked to them for the strength, hope, clarity, and purpose only God can give.”
  • On New Year’s Resolutions, Slow Progess, and the Grace of God. Scott Sauls writes “So, perhaps the first thing to do, then, is to begin doing what Jesus taught all of us to do—to ask our Father in heaven to give us the Spirit (Luke 11:13).”
  • Should Christians Make New Year’s Resolutions? In this four-minute video Hershael York believes it is right to make New Year’s Resolutions about the way that they intend to live.

Courtesy of World Magazine

Dr. R.C. Sproul:

  • R.C. Sproul Memorial Service. The Memorial Service for R.C. Sproul was held at Saint Andrews Chapel in Sanford, Florida on December 20.
  • Remembering R.C. Sproul on Renewing Your Mind. In the week following his death, Ligonier Ministries Renewing Your Mind ran three wonderful broadcasts remembering R.C. Sproul.
  • C. Sproul: Master Teacher, Theologian, and Apologist. Art Lindsley served with R.C. in the early days of his ministry at the Ligonier Valley Study Center. He writes “As I reflect on R.C.’s life, one of the most important takeaways is the immeasurable value of being exposed to people like him, who provide excellent and theologically-robust Christian teaching that leads to personal, whole-life transformation.”
  • What’s Wrong With You People? Watch this two-minute video from a “Question and Answer” session at the 2014 Ligonier National Conference. Although later humorously referred to often, R.C. Sproul was not joking at the time.
  • Remembering R.C. Sproul. C.J. Mahaney shares remembrances of R.C. Sproul.


  • Top Ten YouTube Videos of 2017. Denny Burk shares his list of favorite YouTube videos from 2017.
  • Editor’s Choice: The Best of 2017. Collin Hansen, Editorial Director for the Gospel Coalition, writes “This list reflects my choices as editorial director for our best resources from 2017. It’s not exhaustive, but it reflects our exhausting efforts in this tragedy-filled year to serve church leaders in shaping their life, doctrine, and teaching.”
  • CT’s Top 20 News Stories of 2017. Christianity Today editors select the top news stories of last year.
  • Those We Lost in 2017. Joe Carter writes “Over the past year the church has lost several faithful theologians and authors who have helped shape evangelicals both in America and throughout the world. Here are six men who died this year who were particularly influential.”
  • The Best Movies of 2017. Brett McCracken writes “I chose these films not only from my personal perspective as a critic who loves great cinema, but also as a Christian who wants to engage and highlight art that has implicit or explicit theological significance. I chose these films with The Gospel Coalition audience and mission in mind.”

  • Check out more than 330 of my book, music and movie reviews posted on Amazon.
  • Swiger Family Video. The Swigers are a wonderful eleven-person family led by Mark and Tara that have gone to our church for many years. Watch this video that son Caid put together to learn more about this incredible family.
  • Joy Changes Everything: An Invitation to Christian Hedonism. Watch, or listen to, this new sermon from John Piper.
  • Caring for Victims of Sexual Abuse. In this Gospel Coalition podcast, Justin Holcomb, Scotty Smith, and Trillia Newbell discuss how to help care for victims of sexual abuse.
  • 3 Ways to Spot “Christian Backstabbing”. Eric Geiger writes “Backstabbing among the people of God is a deep violation of our faith and a horrible representation of our faith to the world.”
  • Don’t Be Yourself. Greg Morse writes “Don’t be yourself. Be something higher. Be who God predestined you to be. Be who you are in Jesus.”
  • Does Jeremiah 29:11 Apply to You? Russell Moore writes “If you are in Christ, you can count on it. The passage doesn’t promise you the kind of future American culture prizes, and maybe even promises a future you would tremble at it if you saw it in a crystal ball. Short-term, you may suffer. But long-term, your future is co-signed with Christ. That’s a future for your welfare, and not for evil; a future of hope, not of despair.”
  • What Should You Do When You Hear Bad Teaching? Watch this seven-minute discussion with Rosaria Butterfield, Trillia Newbell and Blair Linne as they discuss what to do when you hear bad teaching.

  • Can Evangelicalism Survive Donald Trump and Roy Moore?Tim Keller writes “The same thing may be happening to evangelicalism. The movement may abandon, or at least demote, the prominence of the name, yet be more committed to its theology and historic impulses than ever.”
  • Star Pitcher Gives Away $9.75 Million Mansion, Land to Christian Camp for Kids with Special Needs. Dave Urbanski writes “Cole Hamels — who’s pitched for the Texas Rangers since 2015 after starting his career with the Philadelphia Phillies — said the work of Camp Barnabas “really pulled on our heartstrings,” the camp noted. “Seeing the faces, hearing the laughter, reading the stories of the kids they serve — there is truly nothing like it … we felt called to help them in a big way.”
  • The Wingfeather Saga Short Film. Andrew Peterson writes “After two years of development, we’re so geeked out to announce that the first step in bringing The Wingfeather Saga to life on screen has arrived! The all-new 15-minute animated short film introduces the characters and world of Aerwiar in a way that readers (as well as new fans!) will find mysterious, adventuresome, and most flootibulous.”
  • How the Queen – The ‘Last Christian Monarch – Has Made Faith Her Message. Catherine Pepinster writes “As Britain has become more secular, the Queen’s messages have followed the opposite trajectory.”
  • Of Hatmaker and Heresy. Rod Dreher, author of The Benedict Option, writes “The piece (from Politico) written by Tiffany Stanley, is theologically underinformed. It’s fine to write a piece favorable to Hatmaker, if that’s what you want to do, but it’s not giving the reader a real sense of how serious, theologically speaking, Hatmaker’s LGBT decision is within normative Evangelicalism.”

  • Should We Keep the Label “Evangelical”?In this eight-minute video, Kevin DeYoung, Mika Edmondson, and Russell Moore discuss whether the term ‘evangelical’ is still helpful or useful.
  • Where is Heaven Right Now? In this episode of the “Ask Pastor John” podcast, John Piper answers the question “Where is heaven presently located? Are there any indications we have from Scripture?” He states “So my conclusion is that heaven is the place where God dwells. It is also the place where the risen Christ dwells at God’s right hand. So Christ brings humanity — his own humanity, a created human nature — into the presence of God in a real, tangible way that exceeds all our ability to comprehend.”
  • Gentrification of Christianity. Writer and hip-hop artist, Sho Baraka, explores the history of the Christian faith, why its growth has slowed in western societies, and how the Church can reclaim our role as witnesses of Christ.
  • Russell Moore’s Ministry Heroes. Watch this four-minute video in which Russell Moore reflects on his greatest ministry heroes and how they have helped him persevere in the faith.


  • Matt Chandler Never Wanted a Big Church. How He Ended Up With Six. Kate Shellnutt writes “In an interview with Christianity Today, the popular preacher shared how The Village overcame the challenges of the multisite model, how he handled being the leader at the top, and about the future of the Acts 29 Network, which he also leads as its president.”
  • How This Church Learned to Love Their Neighbors. Marlo Fox writes “ACTS is a church-based approach to alleviating material poverty through a ministry framework. It’s based on a reframed understanding of poverty, reshaped approaches to serving individuals impacted by poverty, and a commitment to a community restored to abundance. The following is an illustration of one church’s engagement with ACTS.”
  • How to Identify Future Leaders in Your Church. In this episode of the Gospel Coalition podcast, David Helm, Mike Bullmore, and Bryan Chapell are pastors with a passion for raising up other pastors. Listen to them discuss how they recognize those in their congregation who may be fit for pastoral ministry.  Note: This conversation was recorded in 2011. Since that time, Bryan Chapell has left Covenant Seminary to pastor Grace Presybterian Church in Peoria, Illinois.

Christian Satire To Make You Smile:

  • Jen Hatmaker Slams Bible With Scathing 1-Star Amazon ReviewThe Babylon Bee reports “A man browsing Amazon for a Bible to purchase Monday reportedly noted that a particularly scathing one-star review of an ESV Thinline Edition was recently posted under the Amazon account “HatmakerHugsU.” Our sources were able to confirm the Amazon user is in fact nationally known author and speaker Jen Hatmaker.”

Doug Michael’s Cartoon of the Week

  • We don’t want a King. We want a consultant in the person of Jesus to advise us as we order our lives. Tim Keller
  • Christianity is not primarily about lifestyle change; it is about knowing God. Michael Reeves
  • Jesus was there not only before matter. He was there before time. He did not come into being — he just was.” John Piper
  • The best of all is, God is with us. John Wesley (dying words)
  • If there is any concept worth restoring to its original depth and evocative potential, it is the concept of hospitality. Henri Nouwen
  • Death is the funeral of all our sorrows. Thomas Watson
  • The Bible will keep you from sin and sin will keep you from the Bible. Dwight L. Moody
  • Christ is not valued at all, unless he is valued above all. Augustine
  • It is your duty to believe and to teach what the Bible teaches, not what you want it to teach. C. Sproul

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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