Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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Why Did Jesus Weep?

Recently I’ve been studying John 10-12 to prepare for a teaching opportunity. Studying a passage of scripture is very different from just casually reading it. As we engage with the text we are studying, it will at times raise good questions for us. In John 11, we read about the well-known story of Jesus raising his friend Lazarus from the dead, the miracle that will eventually lead to the cross.
If you remember the story, we are told that Lazarus was ill. His sisters, Mary and Martha, send a message to Jesus that ‘he whom you love is ill’. You might think that Jesus will immediately head to Bethany when he got that news (although He didn’t need to go to Bethany to heal him). However, when Jesus received the message, He stated “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” (John 11:4). He then stayed where he was two days longer. Jesus was not in Bethany before Lazarus died so that his disciples might believe. He knew that he would raise Lazarus, resulting in his disciples seeing his power made manifest, and they be strengthened in their faith. God would bring good out of the agony of Lazarus’ death. Continue reading

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Let’s Fight for Life….Together!

 As far back as I can remember, I’ve been pro-life. I was raised in the Roman Catholic Church, which at that time was very pro-life. I’m an elder in a church and denomination that is unashamedly pro-life. I know that there will be some of you, perhaps many of you, that do not agree with me on this issue, and that’s OK. We don’t have to be mean towards one another by arguing on social media or marching and holding up signs that we know will just anger those that don’t agree with us.  I like author Bob Goff’s approach when he writes in his book Everybody, Always, “Find someone you think is wrong, someone you disagree with, someone who isn’t like you at all, and decide to love that person the way you want Jesus to love you.” Bob goes on to write, “Loving people we don’t understand or agree with is just the kind of beautiful, counterintuitive, risky stuff people who are becoming love do.” For those of you who are in favor of abortion rights/pro-choice, you may very well feel as strongly about your opinion as I do mine.   But I think there’s a way for all of us to work together in support of life.

The actions that have recently taken place in Virginia and New York have given me a heavy heart and led me to write this article. This past week, a delegate to the Virginia state legislature introduced a bill affirming abortion up to the moment of birth.  Virginia’s bill comes just a week after the New York state senate was filled with cheers following the passage of a similar law. Governor Andrew Cuomo declared it “a historic victory” and directed pink lights to shine on landmarks throughout the state, including Freedom Tower, where the Twin Towers once stood.  They would be lit up in pink to celebrate the occasion, a jubilee for the unlimited right to choose death for the defenseless.  Ironically, just beside Freedom Tower, two pools mark the spot of the 9/11 terrorist attack. Around each of them are inscribed the names of every person murdered that day, and beside the names of eleven of those women the carved stone says, “and her unborn child.”

In the Declaration of Independence it states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  I believe Life is listed first in these rights for a reason.   Others of you that are pro-choice believe that it should rank third behind Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

My wife Tammy and I have been talking about what we can do to work together to support life and to encourage women to make wise reproductive health choices.  Here’s a few ideas:

  1. Abstinence
  2. Birth Control
  3. Be part of a support system for those with unwanted pregnancies
  4. Adoption
  5. Be the hand that offers healing to those that have had an abortion
  6. Pray.  This is the most important thing you can do. Marches and angry rhetoric are not going to change the hearts and minds of people, only God can do that. If moms make wise choices before pregnancy and even after pregnancy, it doesn’t matter if abortion is legal or illegal here in America.  It would be obsolete and unnecessary.
  7. Volunteer at your local Pregnancy Resource Center. My sister in law has led a Pregnancy Resource Center for the past five years. I’ve heard many wonderful stories of the positive impact that their Center has had on both pregnant women and baby daddies. If possible, volunteer at your local Pregnancy Resource Center.
  8. Contribute to your local Pregnancy Resource Center. In addition to volunteering at your local Center, consider including them in your charitable giving. Your contributions may go toward the purchase of a sonogram machine that could be used as the difference in a woman not aborting her baby. In addition, your contributions could be used for the Center to expand their services or hours of operation.

If God gave out a business card it would say, “Uses His Power on Behalf of the Powerless”.  Here’s what He says about Himself in Deuteronomy 10:  For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing.

And guess what He commands us to do?  Yep, the same thing:  He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.  Micah 6:8

Remember Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s words: “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”   Complacency is Complicity.

What will you do?


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NOT A FAN OF WINTER

He made the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows its time for setting.  Psalm 104:18

I’ve lived in Illinois my entire life thus far, and have no plans to change that. One advantage of living in the Midwest (according to my wife Tammy) is that we get to experience all four seasons – spring, summer, fall and winter. If I had my choice however, I would leave it at summer and call it a day. San Diego’s climate sounds good to me, but I remember a team member who absolutely loves the winters in Minnesota, which are even worse than Illinois.
Tammy tries to talk me through the winter. She’ll tell me that in December we have the holiday season, so it will go quickly.  We also have the shortest day of the year, so the days will begin to get longer.  Continue reading


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30 Great Quotes from God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Book of Proverbs by Tim Keller with Kathy Keller

Tim and Kathy Keller followed The Songs of Jesus, their excellent devotional book on the Psalms, with a second devotional book, God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life on the Proverbs. I would recommend both of these books for your daily devotional reading. Here are 30 great quotes from God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life:

  • According to Jesus, all words—good and bad—are indicators of our heart.
  • The more our heart is fixed on the Lord and nothing else for our joy, hope, salvation, worth, and safety, the more our words will resemble wise speech.
  • Gossip is like cancer to the body of Christ.
  • While God’s door to hear contrition is never shut, our window of opportunity to produce it can be.

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7 Suggestions for Your Devotional Reading in 2019

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 my exercise bike. Although the resources I use change from time to time, below are seven resources that I would commend to you:

  1. The Bible. I read through the Bible chronologically, reading a chapter a day. Recently, I’ve been using the new Spurgeon Study Bible, edited by Alistair Begg, for the daily reading, and using the Reformation Study Bible, General Editor, R.C. Sproul, for book introductions.
  1. Tabletalk Magazine. Tabletalk has been a consistent daily companion of mine since I became a believer. While the monthly magazine from Ligonier Ministries includes many great articles each month, here I’m referring to the daily readings. Each year, the readings follow a theme. The 2018 readings were from the Gospel of John.

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Thank God for Your Losses, As You Do for Your Wins

All of us are familiar with the athlete who thanks Jesus after a big win or championship, or the movie star who thanks God in their Academy Award acceptance speech. I don’t see anything wrong with that. But what about thanking God or Jesus when you miss the last second shot or your name isn’t called when the winner is announced for an award? It’s not very often that we see someone praise God after a loss. Most of life is not lived in those moments of glory. But what a witness it would be to the watching world if we did praise God for our losses as well as our wins.
In his book The Hand of God: Finding His Care in All Circumstances, Alistair Begg writes that for most of us, most of the time, it’s true that more spiritual progress is made through failure and tears than through success and laughter. It’s the former situation in which Cody Parkey publicly praised God after a very public loss on January 6 when he missed a field goal he was expected to make that would have won the NFL Wild Card game for his Chicago Bears over the Philadelphia Eagles.  Instead, his surprising miss ended the Bears season.
Everything was pointing to the Bears coming back and winning the game in a thrilling manner. After Nick Foles led the Eagles to a go-ahead touchdown, the Bears responded with an excellent kickoff return, setting up the team well for a final winning drive. The Bears quickly moved into field goal position, well within kicker Cody Parkey’s range.
With 10 seconds left in the game, and Chicago trailing 16-15, kicker Parkey came on to attempt a 43-yard field goal that would have given the Bears a victory. Parkey actually made the field goal, but it didn’t count because Eagles coach Doug Pederson called a time out to “ice” Parkey at the last minute. After the timeout, Parkey’s next kick, which was tipped by an Eagles’ player, drifted left, hit the upright, bounced off the cross bar and fell back toward the field – no good. Parkey and Bears fans at Soldier Field, were stunned, and Parkey was disappointed that he had let his team down. He then pointed to the sky and then joined both Eagles and Bears in prayer at mid-field. Parkey was then booed by his hometown crowd as he left the field.
Parkey didn’t have a good season. He finished near the bottom of NFL kickers in missed field goals, and probably won’t be back next season as the Bears placekicker. But at his lowest point, he praised God by raising his finger to the sky and then thanked God with other players in prayer at mid-field.
Could we do the same if we were in that situation? Cody Parkey missed the field goal to win a playoff game for his team, but demonstrated character by how he responded to adversity. Alistair Begg tells us that the center of God’s will may take us into the eye of a storm, which is where Cody Parkey found himself. We should not seek, therefore, to confirm God’s will by the absence of adversity. He tells us that there is no ideal place to serve God except the place in which He has set you down. No matter what happens in Cody Parkey’s NFL career moving forward, he showed many of us the proper response in adversity – to praise and thank God.
 
17 Though the fig tree should not blossom,
    nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
    and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
    and there be no herd in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
    I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
19 God, the Lord, is my strength.

Habakkuk 3:17-19


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Options for Your Daily Bible Reading in 2019 – Tolle Lege!

 Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.  James 4:8

Many Christians want to faithfully read the Bible, but they don’t really know how to begin. Here I’m talking about daily reading, not an in-depth study of a book of the Bible. Some will decide that they want to read the Bible from beginning to end. That is an excellent goal, as you will see God’s grand story (creation, fall, redemption and consummation) displayed from Genesis to Revelation. Those who commit to this usually make a good start with the oftentimes familiar historical narratives found in the books of Genesis and Exodus, but then run into Leviticus, get frustrated, and many just give up.
Some prefer to read through the New Testament, ignoring the Old Testament, but that’s a mistake. It would be like reading just the last 25% of a great novel or mystery.  Others may choose to read through the Psalms of the Old Testament or the Gospels of the New Testament. Some, like me, will choose to read through the Bible from beginning to end, and when finished with Revelation, go back and start again in Genesis. The scriptures are so rich, you will never get tired of reading God’s word. A lifetime of reading the Bible is not enough to mine all of the riches in its pages. Continue reading