Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

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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


How to Persevere, When You Don’t Know What to Do

We’ve all been impacted, one way or the other, over the past 18 months by the COVID-19 pandemic. You or someone you know may have had COVID, or perhaps you lost a loved one to the virus. You may have been forced by your employer to either get a COVID vaccine or lose your job. We have all had to wear face coverings, and as I write this, my state still has an indoor “mask mandate”. Your young children may have been forced to wear masks at school or learn online. We could go on about how COVID has changed our world, including an increase in depression, loneliness, and isolation.
About 6 months into the COVID pandemic, I lost my father to heart disease. A little over a month before that he had travelled to Chicago to have a heart procedure. Stores were boarded up and we were advised to not be outside after dark due to the rioting/looting.  Our hope had been that this surgery would prolong his life. Instead, he quickly declined after the procedure, and we don’t really know why.
Just 8 months later, my brother and his wife both contracted the virus, and were hospitalized. Although Julie was released after 3 days, Mike’s case was much more severe. Before he was put into a coma to be placed on the ventilator, he was told by the doctor that they didn’t think he would make it. Whether he would survive or not was very much up in the air. Although a Christian for nearly 40 years, the thought of losing my brother drove me to begin each morning on my knees, a discipline that I have continued. Mike would eventually come home after 53 days in the hospital. As I write this, our community has lost 263 people to COVID. It is only because of God’s amazing grace that Mike survived his battle with the virus and is doing well.
And then about a month and a half later, my mother-in-law woke up one morning confused and weak. At that time, she was a mentally sharp 89-year-old, living in her own home. After a week and three visits to medical facilities, she was admitted to a hospital, where she remained for 3 weeks. As I write this, it has been just over 8 weeks since that time. She has not improved, and is in a long-term care facility. She is mentally confused/delusional and does not have the use of her legs.  Lots of tests have been run, but we still have no answers as to what caused the change in her condition, and may never know.
The effects of the COVID-10 pandemic, the above impacts on people close to me, as well as the loss of a dear friend who died from a nearly 15-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease, has frankly rocked my world. I feel like I have aged 10 years. And I know that many of you have gone through an even more difficult time. What are we to do when life gets so difficult? Should we just approach life with a stiff upper lip? How can we persevere as Christians during adversity? Continue reading

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Will You Come Under the Authority of Scripture?

Theologian R.C. Sproul tells about having a sign on his desk that read:

You are required to believe, to preach, and to teach what the
Bible says is true, not what you want the Bible to say is true.

It’s possible that you have come across passages in the Bible that you wish were not in there, and not part of God’s inerrant and inspired Word. Perhaps those passages have to do with women preaching to men in a worship service, sexuality or gender issues, or any number of topics that you may hold dear. Sproul states “When there’s something in the Word of God that I don’t like, the problem is not with the Word of God. It’s with me.” Are you willing to come under the authority of God’s Word, even if it teaches something you disagree with? Continue reading

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We are Not in Control, But God Is

I try to live a life of control. I’m a planner, and like to live my life in a planned, orderly, and controlled manner. That’s just the way I’m wired. You may be like me, or you may live your life in a more impulsive manner. Either way, living a carefully planned life, or an impulsive one, we need to realize that we are not in control. That’s just not how life works. But while we are not in control of our lives, we can take comfort that God is.
Often, as I would walk into my workplace from the parking lot, I would look at the massive complex that I was walking toward and pray, “Lord, I don’t know what is going to happen today, but you do.” Our lives can be going along well, with everything proceeding as planned, and then something happens that we didn’t see coming. I remember that happening early on a Friday morning a few years ago heading to my weekly faith and work book club with good friends before a holiday weekend, only to be stunned just a few hours later when I got a call that my father-in-law had died.
This happened again when we got a phone call telling us that my Dad had been taken to the ER, and was going to be admitted with cardiac issues. In the days before this, my wife Tammy had commented after we had a few open days on our calendar, that she was thankful for those days because she knew that it would not always be like that. She wondered if we were being prepared for something.
You can substitute similar unplanned things that that have taken you by surprise in your life. We’re going along just fine, doing routine things in our daily life, with activities all planned out, and then something happens that we didn’t see coming. How are we to respond? Continue reading

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What are You Willing to Risk?

I tend to be pretty conservative when it comes to risk. I can remember years ago when our church was still renting property and were looking to build a church building. Some of the church leaders were on one side of the debate, saying that we needed to take a risk and trust that God would provide the funds. I was on the other side, and though I certainly believe in trusting God, my mind was wondering how we were possibly going to be able to pay the monthly payment on the building loan. Another example is the investment strategy that my wife Tammy and I have. We would like to make a fair return, but we are not willing to take a high degree of risk with our money.
In all walks of life, I tend to take well thought out, or informed, risks. I gather as much information as I can to make a well-informed decision. Over the years, I may have frustrated some by not taking more risk, or making decisions more quickly, but that’s the way I approach significant decisions. Continue reading

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Problem Solving Skills We Can Learn from a Squirrel

We’ve all run into problems that we’ve struggled with, not really knowing how to even begin solving them. The problem we are facing can seem insurmountable. At times, we might ask for help with the problem from a co-worker. My wife Tammy has found watching YOU TUBE videos to be quite helpful in solving some problems. But did you know that we can learn much about problem solving by watching how a squirrel approaches a bird feeder that has been designed to keep him out?

If you’ve ever had a bird feeder, you know that squirrels stealing your bird food can be a big problem. And you are certainly not the first to experience this. Just go to any store that sells bird feeders and you will see any number of feeders that have been designed to keep the squirrels out.

In years past, I’ve tried just about everything to keep the squirrels out – from using a baffle to coating Vaseline on the bird feeder pole – but nothing worked in keeping the squirrels from the bird food. This summer, I finally grew tired of financing the diet of the neighborhood squirrel population, and purchased a few Squirrel X feeders, which are advertised as “your best defense against squirrels.” We’re told that that “Now you can enjoy any number of birds in your yard without the pesky squirrels with our Squirrel-X squirrel proof songbird feeders.” Right. Tell that to the squirrels. Continue reading

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The Kindle Edition of My Book is on Sale for $.99 August 22-29!

To celebrate the one-year anniversary of the publication of my book Called to Lead: Living and Leading for Jesus in the Workplace, the Kindle version of the book will be on sale for just $.99 for one week, beginning at 6:00 am on August 22 until midnight August 29.

In this book, I bring my unique perspective of having been a leader for nearly 38 years at a Fortune 50 organization, a seminary graduate and a leader in my church for more than 25 years, to the growing faith and work conversation. I make the case from the scriptures and many books that I’ve read, that God values our work and callings, as long as we are doing work that is pleasing to Him. I also hope to help you to determine your callings.

The book was written for those who want to know that God values what they do in their work and callings, as they do it to serve and glorify Him. The book is also written for those in the “pews” who struggle to see the connection between what they hear from the pulpit in Sunday morning worship with the rest of the week. The book can be read individually, or in a group setting as “Questions for Reflection and Discussion” are included at the end of each chapter.
Here are a few endorsements of the book:
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Retirement is a Time to Focus on Others

Recently, a friend that we hadn’t seen for a while asked my wife Tammy how I was staying busy in retirement. That’s not an unusual question. Some people are almost afraid of retiring because they think they will be bored. Others can’t wait to retire so that they can travel, play golf, spend time with their grandchildren, etc.
I’ve been retired just over three years now, and while we have done some travelling (the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns made that difficult for all of us for over a year), we’ve played very little golf. We both enjoy writing (the Coram Deo Blog and Tammy and I have each written a book), reading and spending time with our new dog Clara. I’ve continued to do some mentoring and participate in our ongoing breakfast book club. But we have found an unexpected benefit for this season of retirement. Retirement has given us time to focus on friends and family in a way that we simply couldn’t have if we were still working. Continue reading


Living with Purpose in the Time We Have Left

Recently, during our Friday morning breakfast Book Club, a few friends and I got to talking about how much time we have left to make a difference with our lives.  Our ages range from the late 50’s to mid 60’s. We wondered what the average life expectancy for a male was, and we were sobered to find out that in the U.S. it is 76.1 years.
Similarly, a woman in our small group who had recently retired wondered about what she should be doing with her time to live with purpose for God. For women, the life expectancy n the U.S. is 81.1 years. These are averages of course. None of us know how much more time we have, and we know that not one more minute is guaranteed to us.
Several years ago, when my wife Tammy was volunteering at a soup kitchen, a much older friend told her that it seems that time moves much more quickly the older we get. That certainly seems to be the case with me. One morning, I had a wonderful time at breakfast with my Dad. But when I ordered off of the “Senior Menu”, he was taken aback. His son ordering off of the “Senior Menu”? Where had the time gone? Continue reading

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2021 Mid-Year Favorites

As I have for several years, I’m sharing some of my favorites in a variety of categories for the first half of 2021. As with 2020, this list will look a little different from previous years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as we have not been to any concerts or conferences, and we have seen very few films thus far 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. Continue reading