Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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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


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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


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What Are Your Lines?

In Alistair Begg’s new book Brave by Faith: God-Sized Confidence in a Post-Christian World, he takes us through the first seven chapters of the book of Daniel and compares what Daniel was facing to the situation Christians face in America today. In our increasingly secular culture, Christians are in the minority, like Daniel living as an exile in a foreign land.
Albert Mohler in his book The Gathering Storm: Secularism, Culture and the Church writes that historic Christianity is now increasingly either rejected or relegated to having no significance in the culture. Studies show a continual decline in church attendance, especially among younger people. Regular listeners of Mohler’s program The Briefing often hear about churches, entire denominations, Christian colleges and institutions caving to the pressures of the secular culture.
In Brave by Faith, Begg tells us that we are starting to feel that the notion of a persecuted church is coming ever closer. He writes:
“Secularism pushes back again and again against what the Bible says about sexual ethics, about salvation, about education, about the role and reach of the state, or about matters of public welfare. Public opinion has turned against Christians.”
He tells us that suddenly as a minority group within an increasingly secularized nation, we are finding out how it feels to be outsiders. And we don’t like it.
He helpfully asks: Continue reading


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God’s Lessons During Suffering


I have to admit that I was afraid of the COVID-19 virus from the beginning. My wife Tammy and I both have underlying conditions which would have made it hard to recover from the virus, and so we were very careful (wearing a mask, social distancing, not eating in restaurants, watching the live stream of our church services, using Zoom for meetings, etc.). My Dad already had shortness of breath from congestive heart failure and I knew it would be very difficult for him to recover from the virus if he contracted it.
For months, the coronavirus vaccines were in very short supply in our county. Tammy and I got ours in a city about an hour away from our home. When my brother and his wife were ready to get their vaccines there were no appointments available during the entire month of May, so they scheduled an appointment for May 4 in a town about forty minutes away. Unfortunately, a few days before their appointment they contracted the virus. The day after they were to get the vaccine my sister-in-law went into the hospital with pneumonia. Two days later my brother was hospitalized. My sister-in-law recovered quickly, and was able to go home the day my brother was admitted to the ICU. My brother’s condition was much more serious, and he was put on a ventilator on May 8. The nurses were not optimistic about his chances for survival, but the Lord showed mercy to him and our family, and he is now on the long road to recovery.
During this time, the Lord has been teaching and reminding me of many things about myself. Here are a few of the main ones. Continue reading


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Fear Not

We often deal with fear in our lives.  To be afraid is not a sin, but can be perceived, like worry, as not trusting God for all of our circumstances. Fear comes in all shapes and sizes, and for both rational and irrational reasons. We can be afraid of a lot of things, from severe turbulence on our flight, to our favorite sports team losing a big game. Oftentimes in my life fear has come around health or medical issues. Let me explain.

Early in our marriage, my wife had a brain tumor. After two surgeries and radiation treatment, she has been healthy for 32 years now.  But some recent eye issues led one of her doctors to order an MRI “just to rule everything out”. We knew what that meant, and it really rocked our world. We prayed as much as we had ever prayed, trusting God for His will to be done. Because of another serious medical issue in the family, we decided not to burden an already overly taxed family about the upcoming MRI, which could end up revealing nothing anyway. We grew closer together during the time leading up to the procedure.  However, while impatiently waiting for the MRI results, even as we prayed, fear crept in, especially as we thought about all of the “What if’s”. Continue reading


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Reflections on Church Leadership During a Year of COVID-19


After receiving our two COVID-19 vaccination shots, my wife Tammy and I recently returned to church after more than 13 months of watching our church services via livestream. Church leaders have faced a number of unprecedented challenges during the COVID19 pandemic. Here are a few of my reflections as a leader from the past year plus: Continue reading


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My Favorite Christian Apps

Apps are becoming more and more popular. I use a few on a daily basis, and the last three conferences I’ve attended – Sing!, Ligonier National Conference and the Gospel Coalition National Conference – have all used a helpful app designed to increase the experience for the conference attendees. Here are my favorite Christian apps that I use:

Ligonier. My favorite app is from Ligonier Ministries. I’m amazed at the amount of free content that is included on the app. The app includes:

  • Daily Renewing Your Mind broadcasts
  • Daily videos and devotional readings
  • Ligonier Conference messages
  • Popular articles from Tabletalk magazine
  • Posts from the Ligonier blog
  • More than 50 free teaching series, including The Holiness of God and Chosen by God

Continue reading


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Living with Purpose in 5 Key Areas of Your Life

Ask most people how they are doing today and you’ll likely hear “Busy, really busy”. It’s almost a “badge of honor” these days to say that you are busy. And I don’t doubt for a minute that you are. Think of how much of each day is already committed (work, sleep, chores, errands, meals, etc.) and you realize that you don’t really have a lot of spare time. You’re probably doing the best you can. You may feel that you are chasing your tail, putting out fires all day, and it’s all you can do to keep your head above water. And don’t even get me started on the impact of technology, which was supposed to make our lives easier, but now we are constantly “connected” with our smart phones buzzing and beeping, calling us to check our social media feeds dozens (or more) times each day.

Understanding this, you might find that it is hard to live a life for Christ. How can you move from a scattered life to an integrated one? In other words, how can you intentionally live a life that matters, one that has purpose? Continue reading


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Opposition to Border Walls is Nothing New: Leadership Lessons from Nehemiah

The issue of border walls is certainly an ongoing political topic in our country these days. Some are in favor of a border wall along our southern border, while others see such a wall as immoral. Some politicians are wanting to build many more miles of a wall, while others to tear down the walls that have already been constructed. No matter which side of this debate you are on, you might be interested to know that opposition to building or rebuilding a wall is nothing new. In the first six chapters of the Old Testament book of Nehemiah, we read about the reconstruction of a wall that has been damaged.
We are introduced to Nehemiah in 444 B.C. when he was serving in the Persian royal court as the personal cupbearer to King Artaxerxes. I’ve always enjoyed the story of Nehemiah. One of the first books I read as a new believer in the early 1980’s was Charles Swindoll’s Hand Me Another Brick, which was about Nehemiah’s leadership.
After 70 years in exile, some of the Jews had returned home and rebuilt the temple in Jerusalem, as we read about in the book of Ezra. They were able to worship God in their own land, but the city still lay in ruins. In Nehemiah 1:3, Nehemiah is told that the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates destroyed by fire more than a half-century after the completion of the rebuilding of the temple. Upon hearing this news, Nehemiah mourns and prays to God.  He then asks permission of King Artaxerxes to go to Judah to rebuild the walls, which the king grants.  When Nehemiah arrives, he inspects the walls around Jerusalem, devises a plan to rebuild, and rallies the people of Judah to do the work. He tells the jeering Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite and Geshem the Arab that the God of heaven will make them prosper in the work (Nehemiah 2:20). Continue reading