Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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Praying for Those on the Trail

In our town, we are blessed to have the Constitution Trail, a more than 45-mile hard surfaced trail running through the community, that was developed for walking, hiking, jogging and biking. The trail opened in 1989, using the old Illinois Central Gulf Railroad line that had been abandoned around this same time, which provided an appropriate pathway for a trail.
Each Wednesday morning, weather permitting, my good friend Neil and I enjoy spending time together walking the trail for two hours, covering five or more miles. We enjoy God’s creation (trees, birds, etc.) as we pass many people biking, walking, jogging, walking their dogs, pushing baby strollers, or sometimes running behind a baby stroller. I try to catch the eyes of those we pass by, with a smile, wave or “Good morning”.
One of the places we pass by on the trail is a small piece of land, adjacent to our church property, that our church purchased several years ago. We purchased the land with the intention of putting a few parking spaces on it, but that was never approved by the town, so it sits unused, except for being mowed by our faithful deacons. More than a year ago, my wife Tammy had an idea for the property, to put up what she calls a “Lucy Booth”.
Remember Lucy from the Peanuts series? A way for her to make money was to give advice, thus she set up a psychiatric help booth and charged five cents for advice. Tammy took that idea and developed her own sign in which Lucy advertised opinions for a nickel, thoughts for the day for a dime, and sound advice for a quarter. But next to Lucy’s booth, Snoopy offers prayer for free! (see sign above)
So, occasionally in the summer we go out to the church property along the trail and set up the sign. We bring some folding chairs and bottled water, and sit back.  What a joy it is to see the neighborhood children running with their basketball to go play at the church’s hoop.  We see many people walk or run by the sign, some of them looking at it. Most don’t make eye contact (as an introvert, I can understand that), but some do and we smile and wave to them. We pray for them as they go by. You never know what kind of problems someone is dealing with. It could be illness, loss of job, relationship issues, etc. Our only purpose is to be there for that person who is going through difficulties and just needs someone to talk to, or to pray for them.
I think it’s a wonderful way to be salt and light in our community (Matthew 5: 13-16), and use a piece of property that is not otherwise being used.
Have you done something similar in your community? Please share if you have. Blessings.

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How is Your Christian Walk?


My wife Tammy and I have just returned to our home, which is being remodeled, after being away for three weeks. We’ve never been away from our home for nearly that amount of time. During that time, we spent time in five cities in three different states. We both enjoy comfort and control, and this period (as well as the half-finished remodeled home we returned to), has definitely moved us out of our comfort zone.
One of the things I enjoy is taking long walks. For example, I walk about seven miles with my friend Neil each Wednesday morning on our local trail. In each of the locations we visited recently, I had a chance to enjoy long walks. Those walks took me past a beautiful lake, down an isolated unpaved country road, through a friendly neighborhood where everyone waved as you walked or drove by, and the entertainment district of a large city. Thinking about my walks, and the diverse places where my legs have taken me over such a short period of time, led me to think about my own Christian walk. Continue reading


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Why I Love Our Small Group


For about twenty years, our church has had what we call K-Groups. The “K” is for koinonia, which is a Greek word that occurs 20 times in the Bible. The primary meaning of koinonia is “fellowship, sharing in common, communion.” The first occurrence of koinonia is in Acts 2:42:
 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
Our K-Groups are wonderful opportunities to enter into fellowship with a small group of friends from church. We have been in several different K-Groups over the years, all of them wonderful, resulting in some deep and lasting friendships. The K-Group we have been a part of for the past few years was a thriving group long before we joined. Small groups come in every shape and size.  Continue reading


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What We Can Learn from “For a Continuing Church: The Roots of the Presbyterian Church in America”

As an elder in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), I’d been wanting to read Sean Michael Lucas’ book For a Continuing Church: The Roots of the Presbyterian Church in America for some time. Like much of history, the story of the Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUS) is filled with items (particularly racism), that are now embarrassing and regretful. The southern Presbyterian denomination, existed from 1861 to 1983, and was the conservative Presbyterian denomination, as opposed to the liberal northern Presbyterian denomination, known as the Presbyterian Church in the United States of American (PCUSA).
Lucas’ book is detailed, thorough, and heavily footnoted. It’s certainly not light reading. If I were to briefly summarize the story, as early as the 1920’s, a progressive element of the PCUS was starting to take shape. The progressives were spreading their message through the churches, seminaries and publications. This message included a move away from the Biblical authority (inerrancy, for example), to a social gospel, a lower view of the confessional standards of the church (Westminster Confession), evolution, women’s ordination, universalism, secularism, etc. The overall goal of the progressives was a reunion with the northern church. Continue reading


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The Counter-Cultural Church


We live in a consumer driven culture. Each day, we have many choices to make, such as where to live, where to work, where to eat out, where to go to the movies, where to go to church, where to shop, etc.  We try to make the best choices, often using the criteria of “What is going to be the best for me and/or my family”, be it climate, income, neighborhood, selection, price, service, etc. It is easy to go along with the culture and look for others to serve us, our needs and desires.
Francis Chan, in his excellent book Letters to the Church, writes “It’s no secret that most people who attend church services come as consumers rather than servants.” However, as I look at the local church, I see the consumer driven mindset reversed. Rather than what is going to be the best for me, a healthy church member will look at life from a completely different perspective. They will follow the apostle Paul’s advice in Philippians 2:4 when he wrote “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Continue reading


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One Church “Activity” That Needs to Remain

Recently, I read an article titled “10 Church Activities That Need to Go” by Lindsey VanSparrentak, a contributing writer on Crosswalk.com. The article did have some interesting suggestions, until, that is, when it got to the tenth item that needs to go – the sermon. That’s right, on a so-called Christian website, the author of this article suggests that the sermon in the worship service needs to go. She writes that the real issue is the format of the sermons, indicating that because the attention span of people is so short these days, the sermon has to go. She goes on to offer a suggested alternative:
“You can still have your pastor up front on Sundays, but instead of just talking, he or she can lead experiences. Lectures could be replaced by an environment where people are free to talk and ask questions. You could even try sitting people at tables to better encourage discussions. These are the types of moments that create the biggest impact.”
This actually would have been a pretty funny Babylon Bee satirical post, but I actually think the author is serious. Continue reading


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Why You Should Rest on Sundays

Ask how someone is doing these days and you’ll often hear “Busy, really busy”. I don’t doubt it. We seem to have more to do and less time to do it in. And the older we get, when we get home during the week, we’re tired, and we just want to have dinner, and maybe relax a little with that TV program we’ve been binge-watching. That leaves the weekend to catch up on other things that need to get done – yard work, laundry, shopping, home repairs, etc.
The creation story tells us that God finished the work He had done and rested on the seventh day. He blessed that day and made it holy. As we are made in His image, we should rest on Sunday as well.
The workplace changed significantly from the beginning to the end of my career, primarily due to technology. There was no email, no smartphones and there were standard beginning and endings to the workday when I began my career. The organization I worked at even had chimes to start and end the day and for lunch break.  Now, workers are always connected. And many, including Christians, use Sunday to catch up on work that has built up from the previous week. In addition, many youth sports traveling teams compete on Sundays, often conflicting with worship services.
What does the Bible say about activities on Sunday? Continue reading