Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


Leave a comment

What are the Benefits of Reading?

I love to read books in a variety of genres (almost entirely non-fiction, and on a Kindle device), including theology, sports, leadership, professional development, devotional, biography and Christian living. I always have multiple books in progress at one time. Perhaps I got my love of reading from my parents, who were both avid readers, though neither my brother nor sister enjoy reading.
For the past few years, I’ve enjoyed assisting one of our pastors teach seminary students soft skills through the NXTGEN Pastors organization. Recently, we covered a module titled “Reading Life of a Pastor”, written by Chris Vogel and Andy Perry.
As part of the lesson, we asked the participants to bring one book (other than the Bible) that has shaped them into who they are, has made an impact in their life, that gives comfort when needed, etc. It was a joy to hear what the men shared. Personally, I shared two books – The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul (to help me with theological foundation), and Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper (to encourage me to return to seminary). What book(s) would you have shared? Continue reading


Leave a comment

Reflections from the 2022 Sing! Getty Worship Conference


Are you longing for refreshment in your individual and congregational worship?  This conference is for you.  7200 people singing together in four-part harmony…  A taste of heaven.
As I sit down to begin writing about my reflections from the 2022 Sing! Getty Worship Conference, it is just minutes after we have returned from our trip to the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, an excellent place to hold a conference. My heart and mind are full from what I experienced at the conference.
Many people have asked me just what the Sing! conference is all about. It’s like no other conference that I’m aware of. I could say it is part theology conference and part concert, but that doesn’t really get to it. It is organized by modern hymn writers Keith and Kristyn Getty. The conference began in 2017 and this year’s conference was the sixth in a ten-year plan. Sing! is an initiative to help individuals, families and churches deepen their faith through singing. The annual conference combines rich times of congregational singing, teaching at main sessions and attendees pick four breakout sessions. Each year, the ever-growing Getty writing team introduces us to new hymns from writers such as the Gettys, Matt Boswell, Matt Papa, Jordan Kauflin, Matt Merker, Skye Peterson, Laura Story and others. Continue reading


1 Comment

The Joy of Walking


As I sit and write this early on a summer morning, I see several people run by our house. I’ve never enjoyed running myself, although many do, but I do very much enjoy walking. Between walking Clara, our two-year-old Alaskan Malamute, a few times daily, and my own afternoon walk, I try to get at least 5 miles of walking in each day, weather permitting.
I occasionally enjoy walking with friends and having good conversation. I miss walking with my friend Neil, who I walked about 6 miles with on a trail in town over a two-hour period on Wednesday mornings for a few years after I retired. I miss talking to my Dad on the phone on my afternoon walks, and still think of him as I pass the place early on my regular route where I asked him through tears, on perhaps our last phone call, if he was looking forward to seeing Jesus. I wanted to be sure. He was.
I enjoy walking with Clara through our neighborhoods and running into old and new friends, one in particular who took an early liking to Clara (who always has a supply of Greenies with her), and the feeling is certainly mutual. I enjoy walking in the park across the street from our home, marveling in God’s creation as I watch people playing disc golf.
I want to share three brief thoughts about my purpose in walking: Continue reading


2 Comments

Why Do So Few Believe in Jesus Today?

Recently, as we were waiting in our car to go into a business, we watched as an employee bowed down repeatedly before a statue of Buddha that was surrounded by candy and candles. About a week before that, my wife Tammy had a conversation with a family friend who admitted that she had absolutely no interest in God, and never has. These two situations made me think about why so few believe in Jesus today. Here are some random and somewhat rambling thoughts about that.
We live in an increasingly secular culture today. As I was growing up, few businesses were open on Sunday. Now, it is the rare (Chick fil-A, Hobby Lobby) business that is closed on Sunday; everything else is open. Why is this so?
Research studies confirm the increasingly secular nature of our culture. For example, the Pew Research Center tells us that about three in ten U.S. adults (29%) are religious “nones”, those who describe themselves as not having any religious identity. Membership in houses of worship continued to decline in 2021, dropping below 50% for the first time in Gallup’s eight-decade trend. In 2020, 47% of Americans said they belonged to a church, synagogue, or mosque, down from 50% in 2018 and 70% in 1999. Continue reading


Leave a comment

A Summer of Nostalgia

Adam Wainwright, Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina of the St. Louis Cardinals

St. Louis Cardinals baseball fans know that we are down to the final few months of watching three legends playing together. Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina, sure Hall of Famers, have announced that this will be their final season. Soon to be 41-year-old pitcher Adam Wainwright has not said that this will be his final season. And why should it be? He’s still competing at a high level. But it certainly could be. Continue reading


Leave a comment

3 Christian Conferences You Might Want to Attend

My wife Tammy and I enjoy growing spiritually by attending Christian conferences. Here are three conferences we have attended that we would recommend to you:

Ligonier National Conference. R.C. Sproul, who went home to be with the Lord in 2017, was a theological mentor to me. Over the years we have attended a number of Ligonier regional conferences, and since 1997, we have tried to attend the annual Ligonier National Conference in Orlando, Florida each year. For me, the conference is a wonderful break from the late winter weather in central Illinois and a little taste of Heaven. I’ve been introduced to many excellent speakers at the conference such as Sinclair Ferguson, John Piper, Alistair Begg, John MacArthur and many others. The 2023 National Conference, with a theme of “Stand Firm”, will be held March 23-25. Speakers include Sinclair Ferguson. Voddie Baucham, Michael Reeves, Derek Thomas and more.

Sing! Getty Worship Conference. This conference, led by Keith and Kristyn Getty, is a unique experience of teaching and singing songs written specifically for congregational singing. We have attended the last three conferences available in-person and plan to attend the 2022 conference to be held September 4-7 in Nashville, Tennessee. The theme will be “Christ Our Hope in Life and Death: Prayers and Confessions”. Speakers and artists scheduled to appear will be the Gettys, John Piper, John MacArthur, Andrew Peterson, CityAlight, Bryan Chapell and many more.

The Gospel Coalition National Conference. We attended the 2019 National Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana, and really enjoyed it. The 2023 conference will again be held in Indianapolis September 25-27. The theme will be “For All of Life, For All the World: Hope for Pilgrims for the Book of Exodus”. Featured speakers will be John Piper, David Platt, Ligon Duncan, J.D. Greear and more.

These are three conferences we have attended and would recommend to you.
What conferences would you add to the list?


Leave a comment

3 News Resource Recommendations

There are many ways to get our news these days, be it from our local newspaper, favorite 24-hour news channels, apps, or other sources. I want to highlight three news sources below that I use on a regular basis, and you might want to check them out. They are:

The BriefingThe Briefing is an approximately 25-minute-long podcast from Albert Mohler that provides a daily worldview analysis about the leading news headlines and cultural conversations. He addresses stories that I don’t hear about anywhere else. The podcast is usually posted by 5:00 am Monday through Friday, and it’s been required listening for me each weekday morning for many years now. You can listen to the podcast on iTunes, via Dr. Mohler’s website, on his app, or you can sign up to have it sent to you via email. When you have it sent to you via email, you will also get links to the articles that he refers to during the program that day.

Not the Bee. Many of you will be familiar with Christian satire site The Babylon Bee. Not the Bee is run by Adam Ford, founder of The Babylon Bee. The site shares real news stories that are so outrageous that you would think they were actually satire from The Babylon Bee – thus they are not from the Bee.

Tucker Carlson Tonight. This has consistently been the highest rated show on cable news, and is the only one that I watch on a regular basis. And while Carlson would generally appeal to conservative viewers, he has done surprisingly well with Democrat viewers in the 25-54 age group in his timeslot.

These are three very different news sources that I use to keep up with the news. They won’t necessarily be for everyone. What news sources do you use and would recommend to others?


1 Comment

A Prayer for Those Going Through Trials

Heavenly Father, this morning I pray for those who are going through trials of various kinds. The Apostle John wrote in 1 John 5:14: “And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us”.

  • For those dealing with health issues, either their own of that of a loved one. I pray that you would give the doctors wisdom in treating the illnesses. I pray for your peace, the peace that surpasses all understanding, as they wait for test results (Philippians 4:7), test results that could change their lives forever. For those facing cancer and the necessary treatments, strengthen their bodies and use the chemotherapy or radiation to kill the cancer. Restore them to full health Father and give them courage for the journey.
  • For those dealing with relationship issues. I pray for a healing of relationships, whether it be in marriage, friendships, parents and children, the workplace, etc. Healthy relationships are so important to us. Heal these relationships and give all involved humility to apologize or forgive as is necessary.
  • For those dealing with job-related trials. I pray for those who are worried about their jobs being eliminated, which is such a real fear these days. I pray for those who report to a difficult boss and for those who are having difficulty learning their jobs. Job-related trials can impact our entire lives, resulting in a lack of sleep and depression. We pray for mercy to be extended to those facing trials at work.
  • For those who are going through money-related trials. I pray for those who regularly face more month than money in their bank account. I pray for those who are working multiple jobs just to make ends meet. I pray for those facing debt, be it medical, educational, credit card, etc. Bless those facing these trials with a better paying job, or friends who can help them to manage their money better.
  • For those desiring to be married. I pray for those who are single or widowed and long to get married. There is certainly nothing wrong with being single. In fact, the Apostle Paul wrote that it would be good to remain single as he was if you could do so without sinning. (1 Corinthians 7:8,9). But many who are single long to be married. This is a painful longing. For them I pray that you would provide them a godly spouse.
  • For those desiring children. Children are a wonderful blessing from God. Some choose not to have children, but others are at this time not able to have children, though they deeply long for them. I pray that you would guide them to medical personnel with wisdom. Should they not be blessed with children of their own, I pray that you would open their hearts to adoption.

Father there are so many facing trials today. I’ve touched on just a few situations, but there are so many more that you are aware of. Encourage your children who are facing trials today. In Jesus’ holy name, Amen.


Leave a comment

My 2022 Mid-Year Favorites


As I have done for several years now, I’m going share my favorites in a variety of categories for the first half of 2022. The COVID-19 pandemic has influenced this list once again, as we have not been to a conference and have seen very few movies. All items listed were released in 2022, with the exception of books, which reflect books that I read in 2022, regardless of publication date. I hope you enjoy this list!

Movies

Top Pick: Top Gun: Maverick. Here’s my review.

Other films that I have enjoyed, in order, were:

  • Belfast
  • King Richard
  • CODA
  • Jurassic World: Dominion
  • Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore

Books

Top Pick: Strange New World: How Thinkers and Activists Redefined Identity and Sparked the Sexual Revolution by Carl Trueman. Here’s my review.

Other books I have enjoyed, in order, have been:

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
More Favorite Books, Music, Television, Blogs, Podcasts, Apps, Concerts, Conferences and Recommended Resources

Continue reading


Leave a comment

A PRAYER FOR SUMMER


Father in Heaven,
Thank you for the season of summer, my favorite. Here in the Midwest, we get to experience all four seasons, which my wife loves. We had a hard, and sometimes brutal winter. Spring was very slow in coming. We’ve had a lot of rain and the farmers are struggling to get their crops planted – and it’s June already!  The corn won’t be knee-high by the fourth of July.  But You are faithful, and morning by morning I see new mercies coming from You. And finally, summer is here.
Summer brings to mind so many memories – of school ending (what a great feeling that was!), playing kick the can/ghost in the graveyard outside until the street lights came on, staying up late, warm temperatures, daylight until 9:00 pm, baseball, golf, family vacations, time at lakes, reading outside, gardening, canoeing, long walks, and so much more.
As we move into summer, Father, what will you teach me this season? I don’t want to waste my summer. I know I’m not guaranteed the next minute. I want to live each day with purpose. With retirement, you have given me time to focus on those things that are most important. When asked, Jesus said that the great and first commandment is “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” He said that the second is like it, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” I want to take that to heart – to love You with all of my heart, soul and mind and love my neighbor as myself.
Are there relationships you want me to focus on this summer? Relationships that need to be mended, or relationships that have lapsed that need to be rekindled. How can I be a better husband, brother, son and friend? What is it from your Word that you want to teach me this summer? What books should I read to grow in areas that I need to grow in?  Help me to use the skills, talents and experiences you have provided me to serve you and others in any teaching or mentoring opportunities that will be pleasing to you.
Father, I look forward to a few vacations with family this summer. Some of these family members we now only see a few times each year. Thank you for the blessing of these vacations. May our time together be precious. May relationships be strengthened. May we grow closer and closer and may our travels be safe.
Help me be a blessing to others this summer. Help me to serve others in Your name. Help me to encourage others to know You better.  Father, I look forward to this summer and your continual guidance of my life.

In Jesus precious name I pray,
Amen