Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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45 More Great Quotes from Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Suffers by Dane Ortlund

Every once in a while, a book comes along that just blows you away. Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortlund is one of those books. You can read my review of the book here. Here are 45 more great quotes from the book:

  1. The sins of those who belong to God open the floodgates of his heart of compassion for us. The dam breaks. It is not our loveliness that wins his love. It is our unloveliness.
  2. The atonement accomplished our salvation; intercession is the moment-by-moment application of that atoning work.
  3. The intercession of Christ is his heart connecting our heart to the Father’s heart.
  4. He knows us to the uttermost, and he saves us to the uttermost, because his heart is drawn out to us to the uttermost. We cannot sin our way out of his tender care.
  5. Our prayer life stinks most of the time. But what if you heard Jesus praying aloud for you in the next room? Few things would calm us more deeply.
  6. Our sinning goes to the uttermost. But his saving goes to the uttermost. And his saving always outpaces and overwhelms our sinning, because he always lives to intercede for us.
  7. An intercessor stands between two parties; an advocate doesn’t simply stand in between the two parties but steps over and joins the one party as he approaches the other. Jesus is not only an intercessor but an advocate.
  8. Yes, we fail Christ as his disciples. But his advocacy on our behalf rises higher than our sins. His advocacy speaks louder than our failures. All is taken care of.
  9. When we choose to sin—though we forsake our true identity, our Savior does not forsake us. These are the very moments when his heart erupts on our behalf in renewed advocacy in heaven with a resounding defense that silences all accusations, astonishes the angels, and celebrates the Father’s embrace of us in spite of all our messiness.
  10. Let Jesus draw you in through the loveliness of his heart. This is a heart that upbraids the impenitent with all the harshness that is appropriate, yet embraces the penitent with more openness than we are able to feel. It is a heart that walks us into the bright meadow of the felt love of God.
  11. The Son of God clothed himself with humanity and will never unclothe himself. He became a man and always will be.
  12. One implication of this truth of Christ’s permanent humanity is that when we see the feeling and passions and affections of the incarnate Christ toward sinners and sufferers as given to us in the four Gospels, we are seeing who Jesus is for us today.
  13. While Christ is a lion to the impenitent, he is a lamb to the penitent—the reduced, the open, the hungry, the desiring, the confessing, the self-effacing. He hates with righteous hatred all that plagues you.
  14. Christ’s heart for us means that he will be our never-failing friend.
  15. The Spirit takes what we read in the Bible and believe on paper about Jesus’s heart and moves it from theory to reality, from doctrine to experience.
  16. The Spirit has been given to us in order that we might know, way down deep, the endless grace of the heart of God.
  17. The Spirit’s role, in summary, is to turn our postcard apprehensions of Christ’s great heart of longing affection for us into an experience of sitting on the beach, in a lawn chair, drink in hand, enjoying the actual experience.
  18. When we see the heart of Christ, then, throughout the four Gospels, we are seeing the very compassion and tenderness of who God himself most deeply is.
  19. As you consider the Father’s heart for you, remember that he is the Father of mercies. He is not cautious in his tenderness toward you. He multiplies mercies matched to your every need, and there is nothing he would rather do.
  20. The bent of God’s heart is mercy. His glory is his goodness. His glory is his lowliness.
  21. The Christian life, from one angle, is the long journey of letting our natural assumption about who God is, over many decades, fall away, being slowly replaced with God’s own insistence on who he is.
  22. God’s thoughts are so much higher than ours that not only does he abundantly pardon the penitent; he has determined to bring his people into a future so glorious we can hardly bring ourselves to dare hope for it.
  23. The Christian life is a lifelong shedding of tepid thoughts of the goodness of God.
  24. He is a fountain of mercy. He is a billionaire in the currency of mercy, and the withdrawals we make as we sin our way through life cause his fortune to grow greater, not less.
  25. Christ was sent not to mend wounded people or wake sleepy people or advise confused people or inspire bored people or spur on lazy people or educate ignorant people, but to raise dead people.
  26. God is rich in mercy. He doesn’t withhold mercy from some kinds of sinners while extending it to others. Because mercy is who he is— “being rich in mercy”—his heart gushes forth mercy to sinners one and all.
  27. He doesn’t meet you halfway. His very nature is to engage death and bring life. He did that decisively once and for all at your conversion, but he continues to do it time and again in your sin and folly.
  28. The evidence of Christ’s mercy toward you is not your life. The evidence of his mercy toward you is his—mistreated, misunderstood, betrayed, abandoned. Eternally. In your place.
  29. If God sent his own Son to walk through the valley of condemnation, rejection, and hell, you can trust him as you walk through your own valleys on your way to heaven.
  30. Do you know what Jesus does with those who squander his mercy? He pours out more mercy. God is rich in mercy.
  31. The battle of the Christian life is to bring your own heart into alignment with Christ’s, that is, getting up each morning and replacing your natural orphan mind-set with a mind-set of full and free adoption into the family of God through the work of Christ your older brother, who loved you and gave himself for you out of the overflowing fullness of his gracious heart.
  32. A healthy Christian life is built on both the objective and the subjective sides of the gospel—the justification that flows from the work of Christ, and the love that flows from the heart of Christ.
  33. The end-time judgment that awaits all humans has, for those in Christ, already taken place. We who are in Christ no longer look to the future for judgment, but to the past; at the cross, we see our punishment happening, all our sins being punished in Jesus.
  34. The gospel is the invitation to let the heart of Christ calm us into joy, for we’ve already been discovered, included, brought in. We can bring our up-and-down moral performance into subjection to the settled fixedness of what Jesus feels about us.
  35. God didn’t meet us halfway. He refused to hold back, cautious, assessing our worth. That is not his heart. He and his Son took the initiative. On terms of grace and grace alone. In defiance of what we deserved.
  36. He didn’t simply leave heaven for me; he endured hell for me.
  37. His heart was gentle and lowly toward us when we were lost. Will his heart be anything different toward us now that we are found?
  38. If you are united to Christ, you are as good as in heaven already.
  39. We love until we are betrayed. Jesus continued to the cross despite betrayal. We love until we are forsaken. Jesus loved through forsakenness. We love up to a limit. Jesus loves to the end.
  40. One way we glorify God is by our obedience to him, our refusing to believe we know best and instead trusting that his way is the way of life.
  41. “So that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus”—what does that mean, for those in Christ? It means that one day God is going to walk us through the wardrobe into Narnia, and we will stand there, paralyzed with joy, wonder, astonishment, and relief.
  42. If his grace in kindness is “immeasurable,” then our failures can never outstrip his grace. Our moments of feeling utterly overwhelmed by life are where God’s heart lives. Our most haunted pockets of failure and regret are where his heart is drawn most unswervingly.
  43. In the coming age we will descend ever deeper into God’s grace in kindness, into his very heart, and the more we understand of it, the more we will see it to be beyond understanding. It is immeasurable.
  44. For those not in Christ, this life is the best it will ever get. For those in Christ, for whom Ephesians 2:7 is the eternal vista just around the next bend in the road, this life is the worst it will ever get.
  45. The Christian life boils down to two steps: 1. Go to Jesus. 2. See #1.


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Don’t Hibernate: Stand the Test of Time

I listened to Alistair Begg’s excellent teaching series The Hand of God about the life of Joseph and God’s providence. It’s one of my favorite sermon series, and there is a corresponding revised book of the same title.   John Piper has also released a new book entitled “Providence”.
Toward the end of Pastor Begg’s series, and the end of Joseph’s life, is a message titled “Famous Last Words”. Joseph, who has led an incredible life, is now 110 years old and has stood the test of time. Begg then asks us if we are going to buy into the mythology that what we do in life is kill ourselves for as long as we can, to line the nest in which we plan to hibernate, so that the whole of life is just a preparation for hibernation. Or, will we, like Joseph, stand the test of time?
Perhaps you are already retired, or are close to it. Continue reading


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A Model for Loving Your Spouse Through Suffering

Over the years I’ve seen some wonderful demonstrations of husbands and wives caring for their spouses as their bodies failed them, or they were afflicted with a life-threatening disease. I think of a man in our church who cared for his wife through a long battle with breast cancer, another whose wife became a quadriplegic after a fall, and more recently my Dad’s wife who cared so well for him for the last several years of his life as he dealt with heart disease. I’m sure you can add your own stories of a faithful husband or wife who loved their spouse well during difficult times.
Some of you know Barb and Neil. Neil was an incredibly gifted teacher. He earned his PhD from a prestigious university and served as an Economics professor at a local university, my ala mater, for thirty-two years. He even co-authored an Economics textbook.
He used his calling as a teacher in the church as well, as he wrote and taught Bible studies in churches he and Barb attended. Neil was a big St. Louis Cardinals baseball fan, as am I. Each season, I would enjoy his periodic and detailed updates about prospects in the different levels of the Cardinals minor league system. But all of that changed about fifteen years ago, when they began noticing something was wrong. Continue reading


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Staying in our Christian Comfort Zones vs. Fulfilling Our Mission from Jesus


In Pastor Burk Parsons’ teaching series The Great Commission (you can watch the first lecture free), he takes us through Matthew 28: 18-20, which reads:
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
We could say that our mission as Christians is telling people about the good news of Jesus, the Gospel (evangelizing), making disciples and teaching them. Baptizing of these disciples is done by the local church.
If this is our mission, how are we doing with it? I’m afraid that as an individual, I may have to give myself a failing grade on sharing the Gospel with others. Some look at this passage as being about missions. John Piper has said about missions, either we go ourselves or we send others (contribute financially). I’m not specifically talking about missions here. I’m applying this to our daily lives and the people we interact with. Continue reading


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Making a Name for Ourselves

My pastor preached on Genesis 11: 1-9 about the Tower of Babel. If you are not familiar with that passage, it is about people who in their self-sufficiency apart from God, wanted to build a city and a tower with its top in the heavens and to make a name for themselves. They believed that they had no need for God.
Although this story took place many years ago, how much is this like many in our culture today who get their significance from their achievements – their position, title, success, status or salary? Or perhaps as having the perfect marriage, being the perfect parent, having the perfect children or the perfect home, as displayed in their Instagram posts. In his sermon however, my pastor taught that contrary to this, our true significance is in God alone.
Early in my career at a Fortune 50 organization, one of my leaders told me that I needed to make a name for myself. He intended this advice for my good. He wanted me to get my career off to a good start and to build a good reputation for myself. But the advice was not from a Christian perspective, but very man-centered, much like the people who wanted to build a city, tower and a name for themselves. Continue reading


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Living Intentionally in 2021


Although we all want to put 2020 behind us, we have to face the reality that for most of us it will still be some time yet before we can get the COVID-19 vaccination and life will begin to return to what is going to surely be a “new normal” as far as work, school, travel, visiting, etc. are concerned. As we look to 2021, it would be wise to consider what we have learned about ourselves in 2020.
The beginning of a new year is a great time for us to focus on those areas where we want to improve. But how do you decide what you want to focus on? This is not just about what are referred to as “New Year’s Resolutions”. No, it’s much more important than that. I would suggest going back to your Personal Mission Statement to assure your goals are in alignment with your core purpose, principles and beliefs.
Now I understand and respect that not all people are into setting goals for themselves. I’m one of those who does enjoy setting goals; I break them into daily, short-term and long-term goals.
Here’s a few suggestions for areas you may want to set goals in as you live intentionally in 2021: Continue reading


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A PRAYER FOR 2021

Our Father in Heaven,

As we begin 2021, we turn to you for your help and guidance. We thank you most of all for sending Jesus, your only son, to earth to pay the price for sin that we could never pay. In an amazing “Great Exchange”, Jesus took our sins upon Himself and gave us His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). As we face 2021, we know that without Him we can do nothing (John 15:5).
Father, 2020 was a very difficult year. Many of us lost loved ones, from COVID-19 or other reasons. The worldwide pandemic has resulted in our lives – work, school, wearing masks, watching church online, fear, etc. – being changed. With the coming vaccinations, we have new hope that soon the worst will be behind us.
May 2021 be a year in which our love for You grows. May many family and friends be drawn to You in saving faith. The call to be about our Father’s business doesn’t change, whether we are in difficult circumstances (a global pandemic) or in pleasant places. Help us in our calling of the Great Commission to share your good news and make disciples of all nations.
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
Matthew 28:18-20
May we be people that bring your light and hope to everyone around us. Knowing that you are sovereign, may we find our rest in Thee. Continue reading


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My 2020 Favorites

As has been my practice for several years, I want to share with you my favorites for 2020 in a variety of categories. (Here is my list from 2019). Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s list will look very different from past years, as concerts and conferences have been cancelled and movie theatres have been closed.

Except for books, and the film A Hidden Life (a 2019 film that wasn’t available for me to see until 2020), these are all items that were released in 2020. For books, I include my favorite books that I read during 2020, regardless of when the book was 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: A Hidden Life (read my review here).

Other films I enjoyed, in no particular order, were:

      • Hamilton
      • Just Mercy
      • 1917

Music: Albums

Top Pick: Patient Kingdom – Sandra McCracken (read my review here)

Here are the rest of my Top 10 albums of 2020:

  1. The Life of Christ Quintology – Keith and Kristyn Getty (and friends)
  2. Rough and Rowdy Ways – Bob Dylan
  3. McCartney III – Paul McCartney
  4. Restoration – Lecrae
  5. Out of Body – NEEDTOBREATHE
  6. Chris Tomlin and Friends – Chris Tomlin
  7. Live from the Forum MMXVIII – Eagles
  8. Blues with Friends – Dion
  9. Let There Be Wonder – Matt Redman

Other albums I enjoyed, in no particular order, were:

  • American Standard – James Taylor
  • Christ Be All EP – Grace Worship
  • The Lost Demos EP – TobyMac
  • Evensong – Hymns and Lullabies at The Close of Day – Keith and Kristyn Getty
  • Letter to You – Bruce Springsteen
  • A Drummer Boy Christmas – for King & Country
  • Vintage – Shane and Shane

Continue reading


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My Testimony: How God Drew Me to Himself


I mentioned briefly in my eulogy for my Dad, which I delivered at his funeral on September 5, how God had surprisingly changed my life. I was recently inspired to share my full testimony after reading my friend Russ Gehrlein’s testimony.
I was raised in a Roman Catholic home. My Mom saw that we were faithful to go to church every Sunday, take religious education, and follow the sacraments. I’m a rule follower by nature. By following the rules of the church, I thought I was OK. I was doing what I was supposed to be doing. I was convinced that I was “good enough”, at least in comparison with others.
But you see, there was no change in my heart. I had a temper problem, at times a bad temper problem. I also saw no problem in going to Mass on Saturday, so that I could go out and party that night and not have to get up and go to church on Sunday morning. Also, when my future wife Tammy bought me my first Bible (a Good News Bible), I set it right next to a Playboy magazine on my nightstand, and didn’t see any problem with that. Seriously.
My parents were very involved in a Catholic program called Cursillo, and had tried to get me to attend the weekend event for several years. I really had no interest in attending at all. Years later, my Dad would tell me that I had agreed to attend several times – seven I believe – backing out each time. Finally, in the early 80’s, a few years into my marriage with Tammy, I agreed, surprising my parents, and yes, even myself! Continue reading


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Do You Live a Life of Contentment?


My wife Tammy and I don’t plan to move out of Illinois (though many are), and plan to stay in our home as long as we can. After reaching out to a number of firms, we settled on one to do our remodeling project. And, over a five-week period, they did a great job for us, remodeling our kitchen and bathrooms. We are extremely pleased with the work that has been done. But you know what? Now that I see the beautiful new kitchen and remodeled bathrooms, the rest of our home looks, well, like it needs some work – at least a fresh coat of paint. Is this a lack of contentment?
I can’t help it, but I always seem to see what is wrong with something. That’s just the way I’m wired. Just like in our home, in our yard, my focus will go to the tree or plant that isn’t doing well, rather than the many that look beautiful. When driving on our streets in town or the highways we travel, my eyes go to the potholes and repairs that need to be made as a result of our extreme winters. And just today, Tammy mentioned what a beautiful day it was. And I kid you not, the very next thing out of my mouth was that rain was coming and the temperatures tomorrow would be ten degrees colder. I just can’t help it. Continue reading