Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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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


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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


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My 2022 Favorites


As I have done for several years now, I am going share my favorites in a variety of categories for 2022. All items listed were released or took place in 2022, except for 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.

The rest of my top ten films, in order, were:

  • Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris
  • Belfast
  • CODA
  • King Richard
  • The Fabelmans
  • Where the Crawdads Sing
  • Elvis
  • Jurassic World: Dominion
  • Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for my favorite books, music, TV, blog, podcast, app, conference and resource… Continue reading


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10 Devotional Reading Resources for 2023

There are a number of excellent devotional resources to complement your daily Bible reading. Here are several, in no particular order, that I have used, or will use in 2023 in the case of Alistair Begg’s latest devotional book: Continue reading


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A Prayer for Christmas Day


Father in Heaven,
Soon we will celebrate Christmas Day! As we celebrate this joyous day, we look forward to gathering with family and friends to worship at church services, exchange gifts, enjoy meals and our family traditions. But most importantly, we remember the incarnation, the day when everything changed. On that day, Jesus, your only Son, left Heaven and came to earth to live as a man. This was a plan that was made in perfect unity with the Trinity before the foundation of the world. That baby in the manger, the baby that would one day go to the cross for us, was your beloved only Son – truly and fully both God and man. He came to earth to save us from our sins and reconcile us to You, and we are so thankful.
Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see;

Hail, the incarnate Deity:
Pleased, as man, with men to dwell,
Jesus, our Immanuel!
Hark! the herald angels sing, Glory to the new-born King!
Father, we are so lost, so unable to save ourselves, that nothing less than the death of the Son of God Himself could save us. We can’t pull ourselves together and live a moral and good life.  We deserve the penalty of death because of our rebellious hearts, but He took our just punishment for us and gave us eternal life!  Jesus came to earth and lived the perfect life we should have lived, but couldn’t, and died the death that we should have died.  For our sake you made Jesus to be sin who was perfect and knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. Only the substitutionary death of your Son Jesus could save us.  Such amazing mercy and grace!
As we sing in the lyrics of “Joy to the World”:
No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found.
We thank you for the life and death of your Son, who came to earth to live as a perfect man and die for our sins. Thank you for saving those who have already trusted Christ for their lives, salvation and eternal life. We pray that many will trust Jesus this Christmas. He is the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to You except through Him.

And we ask this all in Jesus’ name,
Amen


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Best Day of Your Life


What was the best day of your life? Well, at least so far. Have you ever thought about that? It’s not unusual to hear people post on social media “Best Day Ever”!

I used to work with someone who once told me that their family no longer exchanged Christmas gifts. Instead, they would plan a family trip because what they wanted to do was make memories. What a great thought!

Perhaps your best day was the day of your wedding, or the birth of your child. Maybe it was the day you graduated from college or started your dream job. It may have been a special family vacation. For a professional golfer it may have been the day they won their first tournament. Or for a professional baseball player it could be the day they reached a milestone such as 3,000 hits, or 300 wins as a pitcher.

As I look back on my life, I’ve had a lot of great days, but one in particular stands out. And I certainly didn’t see that day coming. And yet, that day changed my life forever.

My Mom and Dad were very involved in Cursillo, a movement within the Catholic church, which begins with a long weekend that includes several talks. They asked me several times to attend one of these weekends, and later told me that I had agreed to attend several times before backing out.

But one day I surprised them (and myself) by agreeing to attend. I have to admit that I really disliked the entire weekend. I didn’t like spending three nights away from home, sharing a room with other men, listening to fifteen talks and attending multiple Masses. I couldn’t wait for the weekend to be over, so that I could get home.

At the closing session of the weekend event, the attendees are encouraged to share about their weekend experience with family and friends. We were told that this would mean a lot to them, as well as our sponsors. I was convinced that I would not be sharing anything. In fact, I even asked one of the leaders if I had to share. I just wanted this final session to be over with so I could get out of there. I can’t stress that too strongly.

But I’ll never forget what happened next. After just a few people had shared, I jumped out of my chair and proceeded to the microphone to share. It was at that time that the Holy Spirit changed my heart. It was nothing that I had done. Actually, it was the furthest thing from what I wanted to do. And my life, since my “best day ever”, has never been the same again.

How about you? What was your “best day ever”?


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A Prayer for Advent


Note: Advent is what we call the season leading up to Christmas. It begins four Sundays before December 25, sometimes in the last weekend of November, sometimes on the first Sunday in December. This year it will be November 27.

Our Father in Heaven,
As we begin this Advent season, a time of celebrating the first coming of your Son – the incarnation, when Jesus came to earth, to be born of a virgin in a manger – and waiting and preparing with hope for His second coming, we take a moment to consider just what that means for us, and the world. Continue reading


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A Prayer of Thanksgiving


Father in Heaven,

As we celebrate another Thanksgiving Day, perhaps others, like me, are thankful but weary. Life circumstances have gotten them down and taken a mighty toll on their lives.

I’m thankful for songs such as “My Heart is Filled with Thankfulness” by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty:

My heart is filled with thankfulness
To Him who bore my pain;
Who plumbed the depths of my disgrace
And gave me life again.

Father, as I pray for what I am most thankful for, the gift of salvation given to me by Your Son, the one who bore my pain is at the top of the list. Nothing else compares to this greatest of all gifts. During difficult times, I have felt the comforting presence of the Holy Spirit:

My heart is filled with thankfulness
To Him who walks beside;
Who floods my weaknesses with strength
And causes fears to fly.

Father, I am thankful for the people you have placed into my life – a godly wife, loving parents, a dear brother and sister, in-laws that raised my wife in the faith, and a wonderful extended family.

Father, you have also provided my wife and I many other things for which we are thankful – a good home, a church that has been our home for more than 28 years, a career that was enjoyable and fulfilling and now retirement, good friends , Clara my sassy canine companion, the joy of a good ballgame, the beauty of Your creation in fall colors and so much more.

I thank you for all of these blessings and more, this day and every day:

For every day I have on earth
Is given by the King.
So I will give my life, my all,
To love and follow Him.

In Jesus’ precious name I pray,
Amen


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How to Grow Spiritually: 10 Suggestions

We all want to grow spiritually. We don’t want to be in the same place in our Christian growth that we were this time last year. But how do we do that? Here are 10 suggestions in no particular order:

  1. Stay up to date with what is going on in the culture. One way I do this is by listening to Albert Mohler’s The Briefing podcast each Monday through Friday. In the 25-minute program, Mohler looks at and analyzes the important news that Christians should be aware of.
  2. Learn from sermons, podcasts, and blogs. These days, with apps and the internet, you can access a tremendous amount of excellent Christian teaching. I enjoy the free Ligonier Ministries app, the Desiring God website, and Tim Challies A La Carte blog, along with many more on a regular basis.
  3. Read good books. I read books in a number of different genres – theology, Christian living, biography, sports, professional and personal development, leadership, integrating faith and work, etc. You can find more than 350 of my book reviews on Goodreads here.
  4. Participate in book clubs. In addition to reading good books, I find that I grow spiritually by participating in book clubs in which we read and discuss good books.
  5. Read the Bible. There are a number of good Bible reading plans, and translations of the Bible available. Personally, I prefer the English Standard Version (ESV). For my reading, I read through the Bible, and when I complete Revelation, I start back with Genesis.
  6. Devotional Reading. In addition to your daily Bible reading, reading a good devotional book will help you in your spiritual growth. My favorite devotional book of the past few years has been New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional by Paul Tripp.
  7. Church attendance. A key to spiritual growth is regular attendance at a good church. As you know there are many church denominations and non-denominational churches you can choose from. Choose a church that faithfully preaches and teaches the scriptures. My wife and I have been members of a church in the Presbyterian Church in America denomination for more than 25 years. At church you can benefit from the means of grace of baptism and gathering together with others for the preaching of the Word, the Lord’s supper and bible study.  Iron definitely sharpens iron!  The church is also a great way to find ways to serve others and love your neighbors.
  8. Join a Small Group at Church. Joining a small group will not only help you in your spiritual growth, but it is an excellent way to build strong relationships with people from your church. Some small groups may do a Bible study. Our small group discusses that morning’s sermon and its applications, along with praying for one another.
  9. Mentoring/discipling others. I’ve always enjoyed mentoring or discipling others. In addition to sharing from my experiences, I find I learn from those that I mentor/disciple. These relationships can take different forms, but at times they have included reading and discussing a book, or a book of the Bible.
  10. I’m not sure that I’ve met a Christian who is satisfied with their prayer life. I know I’m not. Don’t worry about it, just begin. There are a number of different methods people use for prayer, such as keeping a list, prayer cards, a prayer journal, etc. Choose what you are most comfortable with. I use the ACTS method for prayer:

A – Adoration
C – Confession
T – Thanksgiving
S – Supplication (requests)

Using this method of praying assures that I will put the adoration of God, the confession of my sins, and thanksgiving for the blessings he has given me ahead of any requests I bring to God.

These are just 10 suggestions on how to grow spiritually. There are many more. What would you add to my list?