Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

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A Tribute to Tim Keller

I didn’t know Tim Keller, author and pastor who died May 19 after battling pancreatic cancer for three years. Many who did know him have written wonderful tributes. For example, here is one from Don Carson, who co-founded the Gospel Coalition with Keller. Carson writes that “A giant has left us”.
I saw Keller twice. We were both members of the Presbyterian Church in American (PCA) denomination. In 2017, I attended our annual General Assembly in Greensboro, North Carolina to present a seminar. As my wife Tammy and I walked up to the entrance to the convention center we saw Dr. Keller standing outside. I remember being surprised how tall he was. A second time was when he was walking in front of us toward the convention center where the 2019 Gospel Coalition National Conference was being held. It was at that conference that we heard him speak in person for the only time. Both times I was tempted to say hello to him and tell him how much we appreciated his ministry, but didn’t, thinking it would be seen as hero worship. But truth be told, he was one of our theological heroes. Continue reading

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The Christian Battlefield by guest contributor Martha Ross

Dad at basic training. He took tank training at Fort Knox, KY.

My granddaughters and I were recently looking at pictures of my dad as a very young man entering the Army in WWII. His uniform was crisp and new, and his shoes very shiny. At the time, I’m sure he had no idea what that uniform, and his future, would look like.
Shortly before he went into the hospital for his last time, at age 91, he looked me straight in the eye and said, “You don’t ever want to be on the battlefield.” I thought at the time, what an odd thing to say. But later, I realized he may have been “making his peace” with whatever experiences he had in the war, knowing his time was short.
As a young man, he had been musical, and wrote fun, creative little poetry. One of his dear friends also told me that he had a sentimental side, which I didn’t really see as a child. Thinking about the extreme experiences he had as a young tank commander in France, Italy, and Germany, what he must have seen, and how it changed him forever, I suddenly saw a parallel to the Christian life. Continue reading

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Keys to a Good Marriage, Part 2

Recently I shared Keys to a Good Marriage, Part 1.  My wife Tammy and I have been married for forty-two years now. We weren’t blessed with children, but we’ve been blessed with a great marriage. Here are 5 more keys to a great marriage:

  1. Have a regular “Date Night”.  It is important, whether you have children or not, to have a weekly “Date Night”. For us, during most of our marriage our “Date Night” was on Friday night, and included a movie and dinner. We always found this to be a good way to transition from a busy work week into the weekend. A “Date Night” should be scheduled on your calendar. Otherwise, it’s too easy to forget about it.
  2. Look for ways to sacrificially love your spouse.  This doesn’t have to be anything extravagant, like the saying goes “it’s the thought that counts”. A few suggestions would be: warm their towel in the dryer and then hand it to them when they get out of the shower; fill up their car with gas; fix dinner, or take them out for dinner as a surprise; fold the clothes in the dryer; rub their neck and shoulders. And don’t forget to thank them for the chores they do around the house. You get the idea. This will let your spouse know that you were thinking of them.
  3. Talk to your spouse before making any commitments or decisions.  Communication is huge in every walk of life, and it is especially so in marriage. We have made it a practice not to commit to anything (even something as simple as a dinner invitation) before talking to the other. Not all couples do this, and we have seen the consequences. This practice has worked well for us through the years, and helped us avoid a lot of disagreements.
  4. Be willing to compromise.  This takes humility and being willing to put the desires of your spouse above your own. One way this played out practically for us, and probably just about every other couple, is where to spend the holidays. For example, if you can’t be at both of your families for Christmas each year, a good compromise would be to rotate where you spend the holidays from year to year. Of lesser importance is the movies and television programs you watch. For example, it wouldn’t be fair to Tammy if we watched St. Louis Cardinal baseball every night and she didn’t get to see programs that she enjoyed. There should be good communication and compromise.
  5. Remember: We all sin and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).  We are going to mess up and let our spouses down. When we do so, we need to sincerely apologize and ask for forgiveness. When we give forgiveness, we should not bring up the reason for the forgiveness in the heat of an argument. Christians of all people have been forgiven much, so we should also forgive our spouses when they sin against us.

There are many keys to a great marriage. I’ve now shared 10 of them. What others would you add to this list?

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Keys to a Good Marriage, Part 1

Eighty years of marriage… that’s a lot! That’s the total number of years that my brother and his wife and Tammy and I celebrated in 2022. Thirty-eight years for my brother Mike and Julie and 42 for Tammy and I.
Tammy and I weren’t blessed with children, but we’ve been blessed with a great marriage. There are many keys to a great marriage. In this article I’ll share just 5 of them:

  1. Be good friends.  My wife and I just flat out enjoy spending time together, and laughter has gotten us through some very hard times. Quality time together is each of our number one love languages.  (Practical tip:  Read or listen to Gary Chapman’s book “The 5 Love Languages”.)  We enjoy doing things together, whether it is a nice vacation destination, going to the movies, binge-watching a favorite television program or reading good books on our patio. It’s important to be good friends as parents as well. I know of too many couples who once they are “empty nesters” don’t know what to do because their relationship was primarily as parents to their children.
  2. Enjoy the interests of the other.  Part of being good friends is learning to enjoy the interests of your spouse. There is certainly a need to compromise here. Tammy will often remind me that when we were dating she sat behind the stage for a Bob Dylan concert at the old Chicago Stadium. Now that is true love! I’ve gone to my share of craft shows and Tammy has gone to her share of sporting events and concerts that if it wasn’t for the other person we would never have gone to.
  3. Be like minded in your faith.  When we got married I was Roman Catholic and Tammy was Protestant. We would go to Tammy’s church one week and mine the next. It was what we did, and it was the best we could do at the time, but it wasn’t great. There was certainly tension.  Ideally, you would like the husband to be the spiritual leader of the family.  Quite the responsibility!  (Practical tip:  set aside time to read the Bible or a daily devotional together; praying together is lovely also.)
  4. Learn how to handle disagreements.  We will admit that neither of us were very good at this early in our marriage. Tammy tended to pursue me (because she needed to get a quick resolution), at times using sarcasm, while I tended to withdraw. This would only escalate things between us; hence we had some ugly arguments. It was only when we began to respect each other, not escalate the disagreement, hang in there and not withdraw that we were able to effectively handle disagreements.   If the person that wants to withdraw will tell the other person ‘give me 30 minutes alone to calm down and then we’ll discuss it’, that will go a long way in deescalating things.  Also, choosing to speak respectfully to each other (no sarcasm or name calling!) is huge.  (Practical tips from Tammy:  Men desire respect even more than love – Ask for their opinions and input and thank them for what they advise and do.  I’ve seen so many young dads carrying a backpack, a small baby or child in front and then a diaper bag too.  Dads, thanks for what you do!  We don’t want to take you for granted.  Also, if you have something that’s bugging you, wives, please tell them kindly and respectfully.  Men are usually fixers and can’t fix what they don’t know about – don’t just give them the silent treatment.  Be practical; men aren’t great at guessing what you’re mad at or just being a listening ear – they want to fix the problem.  If you need a shoulder to cry on or to listen to all the details of how someone hurt your feelings, call your girlfriend.)
  5. Manage money well and in unity.  In a marriage there is often a spender and a saver, or as Dave Ramsey calls them a free spirit and a nerd. I’ll admit that I was the spender. More than once we received budget books as a Christmas gift from Tammy’s parents, but it wasn’t until I started listening to Dave Ramsey that I got it. Until then, my undisciplined spending had caused problems for us. We each then began getting a small allowance each paycheck to spend on what we wanted. We also led two sessions of Dave’s Financial Peace University at our church and saw the impact it had on those who attended.

I started this article by stating that there are many keys to a great marriage. These are just 5 of them. What others would you add to this list?

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A Prayer for Spring

Our Father in Heaven,
We thank you that in our community, it has been a rather mild winter. Though it seems that across the country, from west to east, there is a new major winter storm almost every week, we have gotten very little snow and just a handful of days when the temperature was so cold it kept us from doing what we needed to do outside.
Seeing bulbs begin to emerge up out of the frozen soil, we are again reminded of your faithfulness as you sovereignly control the changing of the seasons. You have made the moon to mark the seasons and the sun knows exactly it’s time for setting. (Psalm 104:19).
Your word tells us that for everything there is a season…. a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted. (Ecclesiastes 3: 1-2). It won’t be long now before we begin to see the farmers in their nearby fields planting their crops, and soon after we will see the new corn and bean plants breaking through the soil to form perfect rows in the fields. We’ll enjoy watching bulbs come up in our garden and anxiously wait to see which perennials made it through the winter and which did not. Then, we’ll be visiting our favorite garden shops to replenish our gardens, and watch the plants bloom as they display your glory.

Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, 
even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Luke 12:27

Great is your faithfulness, Father. We are so thankful that morning by morning your new mercies we see. All that we have needed, your hand has provided.

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

So even though Spring is not quite here yet, you are showing us signs of its coming, giving us hope. Thank you for your faithfulness.
In Jesus’ precious name we pray, Amen


The Dash

We were notified that the “2021” had finally been engraved on my wife Tammy’s Mom’s headstone, so we drove over to the cemetery. As I looked at the headstone, I noticed that it rather coldly summed up her life with her birth and death dates, separated simply by a dash. For Jane, that dash represented more than 89 years of life.  During those years, she was a wife, a sister, a nurse, a mother, grandmother and great grandmother. She left a wonderful legacy for her family. That got me to thinking about what my dash will represent. What legacy will you or I leave?
Alistair Begg in his devotional book Truth for Life, writes:
Each of us is leaving a legacy. Every day we are adding something to the portrait of our lives, and eventually what we leave behind—our decisions, our contributions, our priorities—will remain, at least for a time, for others to reflect upon and consider.” Continue reading


What Are You Anxious About, and How do You Manage It?

For some time now, our two-and-a-half-year-old Alaskan Malamute Clara, has been getting anxious around 7:30 am. There is a narrow walkway between our fence and our neighbor’s fence. It is in this area that a young man who attends the nearby high school walks each weekday morning precisely at 8:10 am. From our yard, Clara can see him approaching from a good distance away. She visibly gets increasingly upset the closer he gets. I am not sure why. I wish she could tell me. She recently sniffed my new shoes and ran away scared.  How did we raise such a huge nervous Nelly? Continue reading


Your Story: You May Start Slow, But You Can Finish Strong

It’s not uncommon for people at our church to talk about their “story”, a subject that I find of interest. As I look at my particular story, I see how I started slowly, but Lord willing, I hope to finish strong. I hope that reading this part of my story will help you as you strive to finish strong as well.
I recently recalled an embarrassing and humiliating event that took place in my life nearly fifty years ago. I’ll get to that shortly, but first a little background. Continue reading


Are We Known More for What We’re Against Than What We’re For?

I listened to a sermon at our church from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians. In Philippians 4:1, Paul tells the Philippians to “stand firm in the Lord.” Burk Parsons recently stated in a Ligonier regional conference “So many professing Christians have lost their way because so many want to be loved by the world.” I think that is true. By the way, the 2023 Ligonier National Conference has the theme of Stand Firm.
As I was listening to the sermon about standing firm, I began to wonder if rather than standing firm for what we believe, Christians today are often known more for what we are against. For example, do others see us as those who are against the LGBT+ revolution, CRT being taught in schools, and abortion, rather than believing in the essential truths of Christianity? Are we known for our love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control?  Do people remember that it was Christians that started a lot of the universities, missions, shelters and hospitals? Continue reading

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A Prayer for the New Year

Father in Heaven,

It’s hard to believe how fast time passes. It does seem that the older I get, the faster each day, week, month and year passes by. As we look forward to 2023, we want to thank you for 2022, and all the blessings that you provided us each and every day. For jobs, health, family and friends. For the resources to provide for our families. We thank you for our leaders in the workplace, government and our churches. We truly feel blessed.

Father, we also ask for your wisdom and guidance as we face challenges such as job loss, rising prices, illness and relationship issues. We pray that we will be drawn closer to you through the difficulties of life, and that many who have never had a relationship with you will drawn into one in 2023.

We pray for those who lost loved ones in 2022, and for those who are currently facing cancer and other life-threatening illnesses at this time. Comfort them and their loved ones, Father, with your peace and your word:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,
for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Psalm 23:4

As we look to a new year, may it be a time of fresh starts in health, spiritual growth, relationships, and perhaps vocations. May we find new ways to love and serve others because you have first loved us.

We ask all these things in Jesus’ name, Amen