Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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A Prayer for the Pandemic

Father in Heaven,

We are facing challenges that none of us have ever faced before in our lifetime. Many of us are only leaving our homes for essential tasks, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy. Many of us are now working from home. Schools are closed, with students completing their school year at home. We are following the guidelines from our government leaders and medical experts to stop the spread of the coronavirus by practicing social distancing.  Many of us have not seen family members for weeks. Churches have not been able to gather for worship, and sadly will not be able to meet for worship on Easter Sunday. We pray for our pastors as they adapt to leading in a new way, including live-streaming the worship services.
Father, we turn to you to help us against the spirit of fear and anxiety. We pray that you would protect people worldwide from getting this virus. For those who do get it, we pray for complete healing. For those most at risk, those who are older and/or have serious health issues, we pray for special protection. We pray for those doctors and nurses, techs and EMT’s on the front line, bravely risking their own safety each day to care for us.  We pray that hospitals will be able to obtain the amount of masks, gloves, gowns and ventilators that they will need to protect their health care workers.
We pray for our families, our churches and our friends. We miss being able to be with them at this time. Please heal our land, LORD! Use this unique time in our lives as we distance ourselves from other people to draw us closer to You.
We ask these things in Jesus name, Amen.

“Be still, my soul: your God will undertake
to guide the future as he has the past.
Your hope, your confidence let nothing shake;
all now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
his voice who ruled them while he dwelt below.”

“Be Still, My Soul” (Katharina von Schlegel, 1855; Translated by Jane Bothwick)


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Complaining to God

Note – This is a guest blog by Tammy Pence, my wife.  She loves to sing, so has inserted links to songs, etc. for you along the way, and has put in bold print verses that would be great to memorize.
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Have you ever had a spiritual crisis of faith?  Have you ever heard of the book of Habakkuk in the Bible?  Who names a kid Habakkuk?  Who knew that ol’ Huck’s story could help us in this time of coronavirus crisis, or any time of doubt and need?

Habakkuk is struggling with questions of faith, so he takes them in prayer to God; His covenant God is the only one that can answer him.  He is weighed down by this broken world, but persists in prayer even when it seemed God was not listening.  Huck says that’s he’s going to stand at his watchpost/tower and wait for an answer from God to his seemingly hopeless situation.  Huck’s a bit sassy, isn’t he?

COMPLAINTS

“Are my prayers stopping at the ceiling?  Do you hear me God?” “Why does evil seem to go unpunished?  Seems like nasty wicked people are prospering and ruling!”  “Is there no justice?”  And maybe even, “are you sovereign and in control?”  “Are you indifferent?”  “CAN YOU HEAR ME, GOD!”

Fill in the blank with your own complaints and questions. __________________

GOD’S ANSWERS Continue reading


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Don’t Waste This Time


How quickly things can change. A matter of days ago, I was watching Spring Training baseball games and anticipating the upcoming baseball season, the Players Championship in golf and the NCAA “March Madness” basketball tournament. Life was going on as usual, with my wife Tammy and I eating out, going to the movies, and watching the stock market hit new record highs every few days. We were looking forward to flying to Florida on March 17 for a conference.  People were working as usual, and schools were approaching their Spring Break.
I had never heard the terms “social distancing” nor “flatten the curve”. I heard reports of a new virus that was devastating a city in China that I had never heard of, but never expected that it would – and so quickly – come to the United States and my own community. But in today’s connected world, a deadly virus can travel from China to California on one airline flight. And with it, all of a sudden restaurants and schools are closed, vacations are cancelled, people are working from home, churches have resorted to holding online services and toilet paper, hand sanitizer and Clorox wipes have become the hottest items in town.
As I write this, a “stay at home” order has just gone into effect for my state of Illinois. You can still go to the grocery store, pharmacy, doctor’s office, and even get “take out” from your favorite restaurant. But the idea is that we are to stay home and avoid contact with others to stop the spread of the virus. With no sports to watch, and most everything on the 24-hour news networks having to do with the virus, what are we to do with this time that we have been given. Yes, I believe that we can look at this time as a gift. We can use this time to look at items of eternal significance. Continue reading


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Why You Should Listen to Albert Mohler’s The Briefing Each Weekday


For several years now, my favorite podcast has been Albert Mohler’s The Briefing. Mohler describes the program as “a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview”. The fast-moving program, which is available early (usually by 5:00 am central time), runs about 26 minutes each weekday. The Briefing is unlike any other program that I’ve found, covering a wide-variety of news stories that Christians need to know about, along with a respected Christian analysis of those news stories.
You can listen to the program on Mohler’s website, The Briefing podcast or on the Albert Mohler app. I will often listen to the program as I’m getting ready for my day. If you miss a program, you can listen to it in The Briefing Archive.
You may not be familiar with Dr. Mohler. He has been the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary since 1993. Taking over that position at just 33 years old, it fell to him to remake the faculty until the seminary was entirely transformed to support the full inspiration and inerrancy of the Scriptures, and evangelical, Baptist orthodoxy.
Mohler is an author of many books that I have enjoyed, and another podcast “Thinking in Public”, which is a series of conversations with the day’s leading thinkers. He is a member of the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, serves as a council member for The Gospel Coalition, and is a former teaching fellow for Ligonier Ministries. In addition, he is a co-founder of Together for the Gospel.  You can follow him on Twitter at @albertmohler.
The Briefing is my favorite podcast. What are some of your favorites?


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Making Your Church a “Leadership Factory”: A Short Course on Leadership


I recently taught a six-week Sunday School class at our church on how to lead like Jesus. My aim was to help make our church a “leadership factory”, an idea I got from the book 3D Leadership: Defining, Developing and Deploying Christian Leaders Who Can Change the World by Harry L. Reeder III. Here’s an article I wrote titled “Why The Church Should Be Developing Leaders for the General Marketplace and How to Do It” which was the foundation for the course.

The purpose of the class was to explain how to be a Christ-centered leader no matter where you lead – business, education, government, sports, non-profits, the church, or the home. We learn about leadership in many places, including books, school, business, and seminars and conferences – why not learn leadership at the church, using the greatest leadership model – Jesus?

Below is the outline I planned for the course. I have to admit in the six weeks I didn’t come close to getting to everything that I wanted to, especially the practical applications of leadership. But you never come to the end of learning when it comes to leadership. Good leaders are always growing. Continue reading


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35 Great Quotes from the Second Half of New Morning Mercies by Paul Tripp

One of the books that I used for my devotional reading in 2019 was New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional by Paul Tripp. I really enjoyed the book, and earlier shared 25 Great Quotes from the First Half of New Morning Mercies. Here are 35 great quotes from the second half of the book:

  1. When you’re weary with the battle, remember that the One who is your strength never takes a break, never needs sleep, never grows weary.
  2. Perhaps it’s not such a bad thing to come to the end of your rope if at the end of your rope you find a strong and willing Savior.
  3. God will call you to do what you cannot do, but will provide everything you need to do it.
  4. Hope for the believer is not a dream of what could be, but a confident expectation of a guaranteed result that shapes his life.
  5. When nothing else or no one else in your life remains and is faithful, you can rest assured that God will be both.
  6. How could we ever fail to respond in mercy to others when we have been given mercy that is renewed with each new morning?
  7. Why do we resist serving one another when the Lord of all things willingly came and served us even to the point of his death?
  8. Remember, what is out of your control exists under the careful control of the One who is all-knowing, all-wise, all-good.
  9. If you’re God’s child, the gospel isn’t an aspect of your life, it is your life; that is, it is the window through which you look at everything.
  10. It is true that when Jesus takes up residence in us, everything in life changes. Nothing remains the same.
  11. Why fear when God has already given you, in Christ, everything you need to be what you’re supposed to be and to do what you’re called to do?
  12. Grace means that when God calls you, he goes with you, supplying what you need for the task at hand.
  13. Hope is more than wishing things will work out. It is resting in the God who holds all things in his wise and powerful hands.
  14. I may not understand what is happening and I may not know what is coming around the corner, but I know that God does and that he controls it all.
  15. When you have hope that is guaranteed, you live with confidence and courage that you would otherwise not have.
  16. He is just as faithful to all of his promises on your very worst day as he is on your very best day.
  17. You will face loss, trouble, and disappointment, but nothing has the power to separate you from your Redeemer’s unrelenting love.
  18. Corporate worship is designed to make you thankful, not just for possessions and accomplishments, but for what you’ve been given in Christ.
  19. 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.
  20. The God of glory and grace, who calls his people to do his will on earth, always goes with them as they obey his calling. He never sends without going too.
  21. We were created to work, and not just for the good of our own lives, but in willing and joyful submission to the One who created us.
  22. Until grace has completed its work, we will tend to find work more of a burden than a calling and a joy.
  23. The life we couldn’t live, he lived for us. The death we should have died, he died for us. The new life we need, he gives to us.
  24. Peace is found in trusting the person who controls all the things that you don’t understand and who knows no mystery because he has planned it all.
  25. If your faith does not reshape your life, it is not true faith.
  26. Corporate worship is designed to remind you of your identity in Christ so that you won’t waste your time looking for identity elsewhere.
  27. It’s so easy to forget that God loves and accepts you no less on your worst day than he does on your best day.
  28. He does not wait for us to come to him; he comes to us. It is the way of grace.
  29. Today you can give way to fear-producing “what-ifs” or rest in the sovereign care of your wise and gracious Savior King.
  30. Corporate worship is designed to keep you humble by reminding you of your need and thankful by reminding you of God’s gift.
  31. God hasn’t promised to deliver what you desire, but he has committed himself to meet every one of your needs.
  32. It is only when God is in his rightful place of rule in our hearts that people are in their appropriate place in our lives.
  33. Worship is the inescapable occupation of every human being. The question is not if we worship, but what we give our hearts to worship.
  34. It is only when God is in his rightful place in my heart that I desire to live in a way that pleases him.
  35. On your very worst day and on your very best day, you are blessed with pleasures that come right from the hand of God.

If you are looking for a good devotional book, check out Paul Tripp’s New Morning Mercies: A Gospel Devotional.


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Devotional Reading Resources for 2020 – Pick One…or Two!

Devotional Reading Resources for 2020 – Pick One…or Two!

There are a number of excellent resources available for our daily devotional reading as a part of our daily worship. I try to do my reading early in the morning, usually while riding the exercise bike. Here are some of the resources that I have used in past years that I would commend to you:

The Songs of Jesus: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Psalms by Tim and Kathy Keller.

This daily devotional takes the reader through every verse of the book of Psalms in 365 days, with each devotional providing the reader with a daily reading from a psalm. It also gives the reader a brief meditation on the meaning of the psalm and a prayer to help us to actually use it in our heart and as a way to approach God. The authors ask us to look at the prayers as what they call “on-ramps,” not as complete prayers. They ask us to follow the trajectory of the prayers and keep going, filling each prayer out with personal particulars, as well as always praying in Jesus’s name (John 14:13).

God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Book of Proverbs  by Tim and Kathy Keller. This devotional follows the same format as the Keller’s first devotional book The Songs of Jesus: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Psalms. This book uses daily readings from the book of Proverbs.

 

Click on ‘Continue Reading’ for 7 more recommended daily devotionals.

 

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