Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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How Should We Handle Our Regrets?

Do you have any regrets in life? These regrets might be very significant, such as who you married, or didn’t marry; how you raised your children; how you have handled significant relationships in your life; or perhaps vocational decisions you have made.

Perhaps you’re like Frank Sinatra, when he sang in “My Way”:

Regrets, I’ve had a few
But then again too few to mention

But my guess is that we all have at least a few regrets in our lives.

Recently, I listened to an interesting Ask Pastor John podcast with John Piper as he answered a question about regrets from a 72-year-old man about how we should handle our regrets. You can listen to that episode here.

As I find myself closer to the end of my journey than the beginning, this episode really resonated with me. My nearly 38-year career with a Fortune 50 organization is now complete, and I’m in a new season of life, with different goals and opportunities to serve. But I do have regrets, some of which are: Continue reading


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4 Teaching Series That I Would Recommend to You

For years, Ligonier Ministries has produced high quality teaching series, with content aimed at an education level between adult Sunday School and seminary. I’ve listened to four teaching series from Ligonier that I want to recommend to you. The teaching series come in both video and audio format, though I almost always use the audio format for convenience. You can watch the first message in each series free to see if it is a subject you would like to invest further in. The four series are:

The Basics of the Christian Life – Sinclair Ferguson

Sinclair Ferguson is probably the living theologian I most respect and appreciate. In this series, he addresses what a Christian is, what it means to belong to a church, how we grow in grace, etc. Over twelve messages, he traces every stage of the Christian life and teaches us how to live to the glory of God. This series is a nice companion to Ferguson’s book Maturity: Growing Up and Going On in the Christian Life.


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A Prayer of Longing for Spring and Home

Our Father in Heaven,

On this morning, as we face yet another forecast of bone chilling temperatures, a wintry mix of freezing rain and snow and gusty winds, our hearts long for the freshness and new life of spring. Our hearts are heavy with the prospect of yet another day of grey skies, cold north winds, and trying our best not to slip on the ice as we walk our dogs.

But we know that you are faithful, and that following a long, dark and cold winter, spring will indeed come.

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23

New life in our gardens is even now poking out of the cold soil. We look forward to seeing colorful bulbs, blooms on the trees in our yards and the freshly planted corn and soybean fields nearby.

Yes, so much better than spring will be our eternal home with your Son in the new Heaven and New Earth. And we are “almost home”:

Almost home, we’re almost home
So press on toward that blessed shore
Oh, praise the Lord, we’re almost home

Matt Boswell, Matt Papa and Lauren Papa

We long for that day when you will make “all things new”:

And he who was seated on the throne said,
“Behold, I am making all things new.”

Revelation 21:5

And so, we pray:
Come, Lord Jesus!

In Jesus’ precious name, Amen


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Are You a Perfectionist? Is That a Good Thing?

Are you a perfectionist? I consider myself to be one, as do many other people. Is that a good thing, or not? First, let’s make sure we know what a perfectionist is. A dictionary definition of a perfectionist is a person who refuses to accept any standard short of perfection. Though realistically, we know that there are very few things in life in which we can actually achieve perfection, I have always tried to do the best job at whatever I’m doing, whether it is leading a team, giving a presentation, raising a puppy or just making the bed each morning. I try to “dot every “i” and cross every “t”, and do “completed staff work”, which is work that doesn’t require any additional revision. Appearance is important to me, so I wouldn’t think of going out in public without pressed clothes or styled hair. I try to do everything according to Colossians 3:23-24:

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. Continue reading


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Our Dependency on God’s Love and Grace

A reading from September 24 in Paul Tripp’s book New Morning Mercies daily devotional got my attention. Tripp writes,  “We are like babies, unable to meet our own needs and completely dependent on the love of our Father for life, sustenance, and health.”
I think that particular devotional got my attention because my wife Tammy and I have spent so much time this year with triplets (all boys) that were born to our niece and her husband back in February 2019. We generally get to spend one day a week with them. We have seen how they are completely dependent on their parents, or others, for everything they need to survive. They can’t prepare their own meals, clean their own diapers, take necessary medicine, or get a drink of water. They need help from others to do almost anything.
Tripp says that we are much the same in that we “simply don’t have much in our relationship with God and our growth in grace for which we can take credit”. He tells us that “The reality is that if we followed Jesus for a thousand years, we would need his grace as much for the next day as we did the first day that we believed.”
Here are some of the things that Tripp tells us that God provides for us, that we cannot: Continue reading


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Living Intentionally in 2022 


There is no doubt that the past two years have been very difficult as we have experienced the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of you have lost family members and good friends. Others, like myself, nearly lost a family member; in my case it was my brother. When you experience something like that, it makes you want to live each day intentionally. For my brother, that looks like reaching out to friends who have tested positive themselves, or the family of friends to share his experience as a way to help and encourage them. Other friends are battling cancer or facing other hardships. As we look to 2022, it would be wise for all of us to consider what we have learned through our experiences over the past two years so that we can lead more intentional lives.
The beginning of a new year is a great time for us to focus on those areas where we want to be intentional. But how do you decide what you want to focus on? Continue reading


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2021 Favorites


As I have for several years, I’m sharing some of my personal favorites in a variety of categories for the year of 2021. As with 2020, this list will look a little different from previous years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as we have been to only one concert and one conference, and we saw very few films this year.
Except for books, these are all items that were released in 2021. For books, I include my favorite books that I’ve read this year, regardless of when the book was originally published.
Enjoy, and please let me know what you think of my list, as well as what would be on your list.

Movies
Top Pick: No Time to Die. Read my review here.

The remainder of my top 5 films were:

  1. American Underdog
  2. S. Lewis: The Reluctant Convert
  3. West Side Story
  4. In the Heights

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

  • More favorite Music, Books, Blogs, Podcasts, Apps, Television, Conferences and Concerts.

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A Prayer for Christmas Day


Father in Heaven,
Soon we will celebrate Christmas Day! As we celebrate this joyous day, we look forward to gathering with family and friends to worship at church services, exchange gifts, enjoy meals and our family traditions. But most importantly, we remember the incarnation, the day when everything changed. On that day, Jesus, your only Son, left Heaven and came to earth to live as a man. This was a plan that was made in perfect unity with the Trinity before the foundation of the world. That baby in the manger, the baby that would one day go to the cross for us, was your beloved only Son – truly and fully both God and man. He came to earth to save us from our sins and reconcile us to You, and we are so thankful.
Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see;

Hail, the incarnate Deity:
Pleased, as man, with men to dwell,
Jesus, our Immanuel!
Hark! the herald angels sing, Glory to the new-born King!
Father, we are so lost, so unable to save ourselves, that nothing less than the death of the Son of God Himself could save us. We can’t pull ourselves together and live a moral and good life.  We deserve the penalty of death because of our rebellious hearts, but He took our just punishment for us and gave us eternal life!  Jesus came to earth and lived the perfect life we should have lived, but couldn’t, and died the death that we should have died.  For our sake you made Jesus to be sin who was perfect and knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. Only the substitutionary death of your Son Jesus could save us.  Such amazing mercy and grace!
As we sing in the lyrics of “Joy to the World”:
No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found.
We thank you for the life and death of your Son, who came to earth to live as a perfect man and die for our sins. Thank you for saving those who have already trusted Christ for their lives, salvation and eternal life. We pray that many will trust Jesus this Christmas. He is the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to You except through Him.

And we ask this all in Jesus’ name,
Amen


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A Prayer of Thanksgiving


Father in Heaven,

As we celebrate another Thanksgiving Day, perhaps others, like me, are thankful, but weary. Life circumstances have gotten them down, taken a mighty toll on their lives. Father, for me, the past fourteen months have been hard, likely the toughest prolonged stretch of my life, including the loss of my father, my mother-in-law and also very nearly my brother in a brutal battle with COVID. I feel like I have aged ten years, and even the smallest tasks, commitments or obligations can feel overwhelming. But amazingly, through this time, I have grown even closer to You.

I’m thankful for songs such as “My Heart is Filled with Thankfulness” by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty:

My heart is filled with thankfulness
To Him who bore my pain;
Who plumbed the depths of my disgrace
And gave me life again.

Father, as I pray for what I am most thankful for, the gift of salvation given to me by Your Son, the one who bore my pain is at the top of the list. Nothing else compares to this greatest of all gifts. During difficult times, I have felt the comforting presence of the Holy Spirit during times of fear, worry, and uncontrollable tears:

My heart is filled with thankfulness
To Him who walks beside;
Who floods my weaknesses with strength
And causes fears to fly.

Father, I am thankful for the people you have placed into my life – a godly wife, loving parents, a dear brother and sister, in-laws that raised my wife in the faith, and a wonderful extended family.

Father, you have also provided my wife and I many other things for which we are thankful – a good home, a church that has been our home for more than twenty-five years, a career that was enjoyable and fulfilling, good friends – so many of whom are hurting this day – five dogs during our married life together, the joy of a good ballgame, the beauty of Your creation in fall colors and the power of an ocean, music, and so much more.

I thank you for all of these blessings and more, this day and every day:

For every day I have on earth
Is given by the King.
So I will give my life, my all,
To love and follow Him.

In Jesus’ precious name I pray,
Amen


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In Appreciation of “My Favorite Mother-in-Law”

I was blessed to have Helen “Jane” Reynolds as a wonderful mother-in-law. Jane went home to be with the Lord today, surrounded by her family. She was the mother of three daughters (Misty, Teri and my wife Tammy), grandmother to four, and great-grandmother (or “Grandma Great”) to seven.
Jane was a faithful believer in Christ, who lived a life of suffering and pain. She had six back surgeries, the most recent taking place after a fall about four years ago. She took strong pain medicine that barely made the pain tolerable. She wasn’t able to sit for more than short periods, which meant that she wasn’t able to go to church for many years. Prior to that, she was a long-time member of Grace Presbyterian Church in Peoria, and most recently enjoyed the preaching of former Grace pastor Bryan Chapell, thanks to their Grace Alive television ministry.
She had three sons-in-law, but of course would never say which was her favorite. I would sign my emails to her as “OOYFSIL” (one of your favorite sons-in-law). I would always tell her that she was my favorite mother-in-law. She would reply, smiling, that she was my favorite because she was my ONLY mother-in-law. Continue reading