Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

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April 30, 2014 -Living every day under the gaze of God


  • Just a reminder that each Friday Ligonier Ministries offers $5 Friday. Several resources will be available for just $5 from12:01 a.m. — 11:59 p.m. Friday EST only at (internet orders only).
  • Ligonier Ministries Teaching Fellow Stephen Nichols writes about the elevation of youth over the elderly in the church in his article “Youth Driven Culture”. Read his article here:
  • Albert Mohler writes about John Piper’s moving closing message on Romans 9 at the recent Together for the Gospel Conference. You can read it here and also listen or watch Piper’s sermon:
  • John Piper recommends a new book on the doctrine of justification, and specifically on the New Perspective of Paul. Read more here:
  • Check out this article “Jesus is Better than Porn” about Jimmy Needham’s addiction to porn and hear a song he wrote about it:
  • Johnathan Parnell has a thought-provoking article on the Desiring God site about why homosexuality is not like other sins. Read it here:
  • A new e-book, God and the Gay Christian? A Response to Matthew Vines, has been published by Dr. Albert Mohler and four of his colleagues from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Read about it here in Dr. Mohler’s article titled: God, the Gospel and the Gay Challenge: A Response to Matthew Vines:
  • Alone Yet Not Alone will be released on 202 screens, including Peoria, on Father’s Day June 13th. The film played briefly in eleven markets last fall through nascent booking service Seatzy, garnering an exceptional per-screen average of $11,434. It then hit the news in February when it first received an Oscar nomination for its song “Alone, Yet Not Alone” sung by Joni Eareckson Tada, then subsequently lost the nomination due to allegations of unsanctioned lobbying.
  • Are you familiar with the Getty’s? Chances are you know their music, even if you don’t know their name. Keith and Kristyn Getty, along with Keith’s sometimes writing partner Stuart Townsend, are responsible for some of the best modern worship music written for the church, including “The Power of the Cross”, “In Christ Alone”, “By Faith”, “Hear the Call of the Kingdom”, “Come People of the Risen King”, “O Church Arise”, “My Heart is Filled with Thankfulness”, “Speak, O Lord”, and many more. Check out their website at
  • The 2014 Passion Conference album Passion: Take it All, is available for pre-order. It will be released on April 29, and features songs by Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, Crowder, Kristian Stanfill and Christy Nockels.Passion
  • And speaking of some new music, Reach Records is back with Below Paradise from Tedashii on May 27. The first single “Nothing I Can’t Do”, featuring Lecrae and Trip Lee is charting on both the Top Songs and Hip-Hop/Rap charts. Other guests on the new album include Andy Mineo, Britt Nicole, Derek Minor and Crowder.
  • Another new hip-hop/rap release is Crimson Cord from Propaganda, releasing on April 29, featuring guests such as Lecrae and Andy Mineo.
  • And how about one more new hip-hop/rap release? Flame returns with Jesus or Nothing on April 29,
  • Bruce Springsteen released a four song EP American Beauty on April 22. The cost on iTunes is just $3.99. Springsteen describes the songs as follows:

American Beauty - Bruce Springsteen“American Beauty is a collection of songs I cut at home. Upon revisiting them for High Hopes I recognized their potential and Ron Aniello and I worked on them until we’d turned them into the music before you. In the song “American Beauty,” I get to sing in a part of my range I don’t often visit and that along with its ‘guitar wall of sound’ gives it a little ‘exile on E Street’ power. “Mary Mary” is a lovely mystery, a small piece of heartbreak poetry that sneaks up on you with its slippery grove, punctuated string section and spectral lyrics. It came closest to making the High Hopes cut. “Hurry Up Sundown” is a fun piece of modern power pop, while “Hey Blue Eyes” rounds out the EP with one of my darkest political songs. Written during the Bush years, it’s a metaphor for the house of horrors our government’s actions created in the years following the invasion of Iraq. At its center is the repressed sexuality and abuse of power that characterized Abu Ghraib prison. I feel this is a shadow we as a country have yet to emerge from.”



  • A Summary of the Main Points from A Presentation of: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni
  • Getting Naked: A Business Fable about Shedding the Three Fears That Sabotage Client Loyalty by Patrick Lencioni
  • Visioneering: God’s Blueprint for Developing and Maintaining Vision by Andy Stanley


~ Reflections on Michael Card’s Biblical Imagination Conference and Concert ~

 After waiting more than two years for Michael Card and his team (Ron, Craig, Holly and Allie) to return to Christ Church for another Biblical Imagination Conference, the time finally came this past weekend. This time the conference was on the Gospel of Matthew and the title was Matthew: The Gospel of Identity.

The Biblical Imagination Series is made up of four elements: commentary, music, on-site experience and community discussion. Michael states that his approach is to engage the text of the Gospels at the level of the informed imagination. He states that when we allow our imaginations to be recaptured by the Holy Spirit, the facts we know in our heads come to life in our hearts.

The weekend began with a pastor’s lunch, hosted by the Quijano’s in their wonderful home. On the way out to their home, Michael told me that there was a recording session going on at that time for his new album on the Gospel of John back home in the Nashville area. He mentioned a song about the woman at the well (“All I’ve Ever Done”) that he was particularly excited about that he co-wrote with Ginny Owens, on which Owens will handle the vocals. At Sunday’s concert sound check, he played the recording of that song, as well as “Jesus Wept”. Michael’s best friend Scott Roley will also appear on the album which is due out, with the companion commentary, in July.

We had a great meal and fellowship and then Michael taught and addressed questions from the Gospel of Matthew.


Michael teaches on the Gospel of Matthew as Diane and Don listen intently at the Pastor’s Lunch on April 25.

Michael teaches on the Gospel of Matthew as Diane and Don listen intently at the Pastor’s Lunch on April 25.

The conference started on Friday night. It was wonderful seeing old friends that I had met at the Gospel of Mark Biblical Imagination Conference in March 2012, and also some wonderful friends who formerly attended Christ Church, but had since moved away. In all, nearly 100 attendees gathered to learn more about Matthew from Michael and apply what we learned from Craig. Attendees came from as far away as Ontario, Washington D.C., Ohio, Kentucky and Iowa. In addition, Contemporary Christian Music artist Todd Agnew attended the conference. He would later play a concert at a local church in town on Sunday evening.

During the conference Michael would play some music – worship songs, some of his old music and some music from his new album Matthew: The Penultimate Question.     As the conference opened, Michael took us through a historical context that we needed to know to truly understand Matthew. Craig’s application section included writing responses on colorful “Sticky Notes” and putting them on the church windows.

There were many things I learned throughout the conference. A few things that I wrote down and wanted to share with you are:

  •  A major theme of the conference was the concept of hesed, which is mentioned 250 times in the Old Testament and is at times translated as lovingkindness or mercy. Michael’s definition of hesed is “When the person from whom I have a right to expect nothing gives me everything”. Michael’s next book, which he believes will be his last, will be on hesed. He thinks that will take him 2-3 years to complete.
  • Michael stated that whenever we ask in the New Testament “Who am I”? it tells us who Jesus is.
  • The Gospel of Matthew is written to give the Jewish believers their identity.
  • I really appreciated Michael taking us through the New Testament era chronologically.
  • Michael stressed that we are not our gift. We are called to give ourselves away.
  • In reviewing the “Unmiraculous Miracles”, Michael states that the miracle is not the point, there is always another point.
  • Michael stated that we should always work at the level of our inadequacy.
  • Whereas we say “Amen” (a declaration of affirmation), at the end of a prayer, Jesus said it “Truly, Truly”, before making a statement.

The conference ended with Craig (a graduate of Covenant Seminary) teaching on the Beatitudes. We were challenged to rewrite Matthew 5:1-12 replacing the descriptions (“poor in spirit”, etc.) with what it looks like in our unique situations. The outcomes were to remain as it is God’s to determine. Then several of the attendees shared what they had written, which was a wonderful experience.   I particularly enjoyed visiting with many of the attendees throughout the conference and hearing of their joy in the conference.

IMG_1439Whether you attended the conference or not, I would recommend that you pick up Michael’s album and corresponding book, Matthew: The Gospel of Identity. And I would highly recommend you make plans to attend one of his Biblical Imagination Conferences in the future. I know I can’t wait for the conference on the Gospel of John.

On Sunday, Michael sang “Immanuel” with the Christ Church Choir and also “Come Lift Up Your Sorrows” at the early service and then sang “Come Lift Up Your Sorrows” and “Joy in the Journey” at the second service at East White Oak Bible Church. “Come Lift Up Your Sorrows” is Michael’s personal favorite of the 400+ songs that he has written and it has powerful lyrics.

If you are wounded, if you are alone,
If you are angry, if your heart is cold as stone,
If you have fallen and if you are weak,
Come find the worth of God
That only the suffering seek.

Come lift up your sorrows
And offer your pain;
Come make a sacrifice
Of all your shame;
There in your wilderness
He’s waiting for you
To worship Him with your wounds,
For He’s wounded too.

He has not stuttered, and He has not lied
When He said, “Come unto me, you’re not disqualified”
When your heavy laden, you may want to depart,
But those who know sorrow are closest to His heart.

In this most Holy Place
He’s made a sacred space
For those who will enter in
And trust to cry out to Him;
You’ll find no curtain there,
No reason left for fear;
There’s perfect freedom here
To weep every unwept tear.

I heard Michael play the song four times over the weekend and each time the lyrics seemed more powerful.IMG_1465

We enjoyed a wonderful pre-concert dinner at Destihl with Michael’s team and musician Chenoa Alamu, who has toured with him in the past, before enjoying a great concert with Michael and Chenoa that evening at East White Oak Bible Church.

What a wonderful weekend! It was a labor of love, and a joy to work with the Dream Team – Diane, Laurie, Nancy, Ed, Chris and Tammy. Many thanks to the countless volunteers who made everything possible. We are thankful for the partnership with Pastor Boerckel and the East White Oak Bible Church family. Thanks also to our friends at WBNH and WCIC.

Click on this link to view photos from the weekend:



Thomas à Kempis – If you will bear the cross, it will bear you.

“If Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for him.” Helen Roseveare, author of Give Me This Mountain, written in 1966, and He Gave Us a Valley, written in 1976.







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It’s Finally Here! Michael Card’s Biblical Imagination Conference and Concert

My Philosophy of Ministry

My final assignment at Covenant Seminary included the development of my philosophy of ministry. What does that mean? A simple way to describe it is… what are the guiding principles by which you make decisions in life and ministry? You can read more by clicking here:  Philosphy of Ministry – FINAL copy



  • Watch this short but challenging video from Francis Chan titled “Are You Boring?” here:
  •  Check out this video of St. Louis Cardinal slugger Matt Holliday discussing his faith in Christ:
  • R.C. Sproul writes what Reformed Theology means by the term “Total Depravity” in his article “How Sinful is Man?” Read it here:
  • Tim Challies has developed a helpful “Porn-Free Family Plan” to deal with desktop computers, laptops, tablets, Smart phones, etc. Check it out here:
  • One of my favorite days for the past several years has been attending the annual Leadercast learning event, hosted locally at Second Presbyterian Church in downtown Bloomington. The great folks of Second Presbyterian are wonderful hosts. Leadercast is a live event held in Atlanta, and then watched at many locations throughout the country. This year, the event is on Friday, May 9, and features two of my favorite leadership authors/speakers Andy Stanley and Malcom Gladwell, along with many other fine speakers. I can’t wait! To find out more and to purchase tickets, go to the Leadercast information page.
  • We recently watched and loved the three part series Arnie on The Golf Channel. I hope they replay it and you get a chance to see it yourself. Arnold Palmer was my Dad’s sports hero, and one of mine as well, as we have seen him many times at his Bay Hill Golf Club in Orlando and also when he was here in Bloomington, IL to play at the golf course he designed, The Den at Fox Creek. The series encouraged me to go back and read Arnie’s 1999 autobiography A Golfer’s LIfe, written with James Dodson, one of my favorite authors. Look for a review of that book in the coming weeks. Read about Arnie here:
  • Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, the boxer whose wrongful murder conviction became an international symbol of racial injustice, died April 20 at 76. Carter spent 19 years in prison for three murders at a tavern in Paterson, New Jersey, in 1966. He was convicted alongside his friend John Artis in 1967 and again in a new trial in 1976. Carter was freed in November 1985 when his convictions were set aside after years of appeals and public advocacy. His ordeal and the alleged racial motivations behind it were publicized in Bob Dylan’s 1975 song “Hurricane,” several books and a 1999 film starring Denzel Washington, who received an Academy Award nomination for playing the boxer turned prisoner.
  • A highlight of every day is reading a daily prayer from Scotty Smith, a favorite author of mine. I also had the pleasure of taking two of his classes at Covenant Seminary. You can sign up to receive Scotty’s prayers sent to you each day at A year’s worth of his prayers were compiled in his book Everyday Prayers.
  • Another highlight of each day is listening to my favorite podcast, The Briefing with Albert Mohler. This is a daily worldview analysis about the leading news headlines and cultural conversations. You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes and/or listen at
  • Each year, Barna Group partners with the American Bible Society on State of the Bible, a comprehensive study of Americans’ attitudes and behaviors toward the Bible. Asking a national representative sample of adults the same questions year after year allows us to track the country’s shifting perceptions of Scripture. This year’s research reveals six trends in Bible engagement: from the Bible’s continued role as a cultural icon, to increased digital Bible reading, to a rise in skepticism toward Scripture, particularly among Millennials. Read the entire story at:
  • This is an interesting article by Joseph Sunde – “Oprah, Rob Bell, And Faux Self-Empowerment For The Self-Centered”.  Read it here:




MOVIES – Reviews of Heaven is for Real

  • The film version of the popular book Heaven is for Real was released recently. My favorite blogger Tim Challies wrote a review of the book on his Informing the Reforming blog back in 2011. His final statement is “So reject this book. Do not read it. Do not believe it. And do not feel guilty doing so”. To read the entire review go here:
  • Randy Alcorn recently reviewed the movie version of Heaven is for Real. Read his review here:



  • Philip Bailey, lead singer of the band Earth, Wind and Fire has written a biography of the band titled Shining Star. I was never a big fan of Earth, Wind and Fire, but did enjoy the four gospel albums Bailey released between 1984 and 1991, so I plan to read his book. Bailey recently sat in with Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show Band Roots. Check out his website at
  • NEEDTOBREATHE will be in concert at the Pageant (at 6161 Delmar Blvd.) in St. Louis on Friday, June 13 at 7:00 pm playing songs from their new #1 album Rivers in the Wasteland. 
  • Desiring God recently featured hip-hop artist Propaganda (who has done some collaborations with Lecrae on his two Church Clothes albums), with his new single “Crimson Cord,” and a short interview – two minutes his explanation of the heart and idea behind “Crimson Cord.”


Just a reminder….. LAST CALL!

Matthew: The Gospel of Identity Biblical Imagination Conference to be Held at Christ Church April 25-26. Michael Card Concert to be held at East White Oak Bible Church April 27

Christ Church and East White Oak Bible Church are pleased to welcome back singer/songwriter, Bible teacher and author Michael Card for the Biblical Imagination Conference Matthew: The Gospel of Identity on April 25-26 and concert on April 27. The conference will be held at Christ Church and the concert at East White Oak Bible Church.

There are a few tickets left for the Friday night/Saturday conference and plenty for the Sunday night concert.

Tickets for the conference (which includes the concert) are just $58, and can also be purchased at:

Tickets for the concert only are just $18, and can also be purchased at:

If you have any questions, or need additional information, please contact Bill Pence at (309) 452-5438 or





Michael Card Book Reviews

As we prepare for Michael Card’s Matthew: The Gospel of Identity Biblical Imagination Conference and Concert this weekend, we wanted to look back at a few of Michael’s previous books. Enjoy!

  • A Better Freedom – Finding Life as Slaves of Christ
  • A Fragile Stone: The Emotional Life of Simon Peter
  • Scribbling in the Sand: Christ and Creativity


SPORTS Book Reviews

  • Intentional Walk: An Inside Look at the Faith That Drives the St. Louis Cardinals by Rob Rains
  • Impact Player: Leaving a Lasting Legacy On and Off the Field by Bobby Richardson
  • The Match: The Day the Game of Golf Changed Forever by Mark Frost
  • One on One: Behind the Scenes with the Greats in the Game by John Feinstein
  • Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success by Phil Jackson and Hugh Delehanty
  • I Never Had It Made by Jackie Robinson







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Michael Card Weekend Conference and Concert in One Month!

MC_BI_Poster_NormalIL-page-001Christ Church, PCA in Normal, IL and East White Oak Bible Church are pleased to welcome back singer/songwriter, Bible teacher and author Michael Card for the Biblical Imagination Conference Matthew: The Gospel of Identity on April 25-26 and concert on April 27. The conference will be held at Christ Church and the concert at East White Oak Bible Church.

For over thirty years, Michael Card has endeavored to engage with the text of Scripture, whether through the writing of music, books, or in the context of the conference or classroom. The fruit of this approach is heard in well-known songs like “El Shaddai,” “Immanuel,” and more recently, “Come Lift Up Your Sorrows.” Through the course of releasing over thirty albums, twenty-two books, and performing countless concerts, he has invited listeners and readers to honestly wrestle with the Bible, seeking to grasp the meaning of the text with all their heart and mind.

A graduate of Western Kentucky University, Michael received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Biblical Studies. While at WKU, he met Dr. William Lane, who mentored him in an imaginative approach to studying the Bible. Michael went on to receive honorary PhD’s in Music and Christian Education from Whitfield Seminary and Philadelphia Biblical University. Michael lives in Franklin, Tennessee, where, with a group of close friends, he pursues racial reconciliation and neighborhood renewal. He and his wife, Susan, have four children.

The Biblical Imagination Conference is made up of four elements: commentary, music, on-site experience and community discussion.

 Michael writes: “Our approach is to engage the text (the Gospels) at the level of the informed imagination. This method takes seriously the impact of the fall on every dimension of human experience, including the fragmented and fallen way we listen to the Bible. How do we reconnect this rift between the heart and mind that was caused by the fall? As I understand it, only the imagination can bridge the gap. It is the means by which the Spirit begins to undo what was disintegrated by the fall. When we allow our imaginations to be recaptured by the Holy Spirit, the facts we know in our heads come to life in our hearts. This is why the Bible reaches out primarily to our imaginations, for by doing so the heart and mind become reengaged.”

But what does biblical imagination look like, you ask? How do we apply facts in our heads to aches in our hearts? What is missing in our understanding that leads to a more biblical response to the Spirit of God? Join us as we seek to reacquaint, inspire, and shape the Church with the life of Jesus imaginatively seen through the Scriptures.  

 The short promotional video and description of the conference will give you an idea of what to expect at the conference:



Tickets for the conference (which includes the concert) are just $58, and can be purchased at either church or at:

Tickets for the concert only are just $18, and can also be purchased at either church or at:

If you have any questions, or need additional information, please go to the conference site at: or contact Bill Pence at (309) 452-5438 or


Michael Card’s brand new newsletter The Card Community

Below is an excerpt:

The Biblical Imagination Series on the Gospels is almost complete. CDs and books are completed and in distribution on Luke, Mark and Matthew. Currently the John book is being edited by the great folks at Intervarsity Press and I am just finishing up the songs. It has been a long haul and it will be so rewarding to see them all together in a row. By the way, the video series from Israel produced by Day of Discovery is complete and available at our website. The concept with the Biblical Imagination Series is that you can go as deep as you choose to go. If you enjoy the music in light of your study of one of the Gospels, that’s great. But if you want to go deeper you can read the book or watch the video. If you want to go further still you can come to one of our weekend seminars which take place all over the country, indeed in many foreign countries. If you want to take a final step with the BI material you can choose to go to Israel with us in January. 2015. My dream has always been to walk with you as long as you feel called to dig. One of the wonderments of Scripture is that you can invest your lifetime in study and still only scratch the surface. Virtually everything I am doing now comes under the banner of BI. The only exceptions are fund raisers and private concerts.



On Saturday we would like to provide the Conference attendees with snacks during the morning and afternoon breaks.   We have lots of needs and hope you can help provide some of these items.Unless otherwise indicated, bring food items to the kitchen at Christ Church no later than 9:00 am on Saturday, April 26.

Here is the link for food and beverages:

Here is the link to volunteer to help with greeting, set up, clean up, etc.:




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Michael Card’s Biblical Imagination Conference and Concert is just 2 Months Away!

Michael Card slideChrist Church and East White Oak Bible Church are pleased to host respected singer/songwriter, Bible teacher and author Michael Card for the Biblical Imagination Conference Matthew: The Gospel of Identity on April 25-26, and concert on April 27. The conference will be held at Christ Church in Normal, and the concert at East White Oak Bible Church in Carlock.

The short promotional video linked below will give you and your church an idea of what to expect at the conference:

More details about the conference, including the schedule, are available at the conference site at:

Tickets for the conference (which includes the concert) are $58 and can be purchased at:

Tickets for the concert only are $18 and can be purchased at:

Please share this on your personal Facebook sites and encourage your friends to attend.  If you have any questions, or need additional information, please contact Bill Pence at (309) 452-5438 or


As I near my graduation from Covenant Seminary, I am revisiting a few of my assignments (papers, etc.) that I completed. Below is a paper I wrote on B.B. Warfield 2010 for Carl Trueman’s course on Warfield. 

Leadership Library – From Ken Blanchard to John Wooden, from being a Quiet introvert to being a StandOut and everything in between, we have lots of new leadership book reviews for you to peruse and enjoy.

21New Leadership Book Review The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader: Becoming the Person Others Will Want to Follow by John Maxwell3 Days to KillGrace Unplugged

Movie Reviews3 Days to Kill and Grace Unplugged


  • My good friend Dr. Neil Skaggs will be presenting “Prelude to Wilberforce: Christian Men & Women that Changed Britain” Friday, March 7 at the Ithaka Fellowship. Please do not hesitate to RSVP. Space is limited to the first sixty people. Coffee and dessert will be served at 7 PM. For directions or more information go to or contact Duane at
  • Read this interesting article “The Christian Leader in the Digital Age” by Dr. Albert Mohler – If you are interested in more from Mohler, check out his book The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership that Matters.
  • Do you count the cost before mentioning Christ in a work environment where policy forbids it? – this article from World Magazine is right up your alley.
  • Tim Challies linked to this infographic on multi-tasking, something we all do and think we are doing good at it. Think again on that. Read more here:
  • Check out this four minute video from John Piper as he explains how the Spirit within and the word of God without work together to make us new –
  • Here’s a lengthy Huffington Post profile of Christian hip-hop/rap artist Lecrae, and one of my favorite artists:
  • Ligonier Ministries recently introduced the Ligonier Interview Archives, a new podcast. The weekly podcast highlights interviews from the archives on a variety of products. You can subscribe in iTunes.
  • Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand is one of my favorite books of the past few years. Here’s the trailer for the film version, which will open Christmas Day: Unbroken
  • Justin Taylor recently interviewed David Wells, who has written some of the most significant books of the past 20 years, about his new book God in the Whirlwind: How the Holy Love of God Reorients Our World. Check it out here: Carson
  • Dr. Ben Carson’s new book is One Nation: What We Can All Do to Save America’s Future, and it will be published May 20.
  • Eric Metaxas, an excellent biographer, has filmed a Four-part Small Group Video Curriculum on Bonhoeffer! It was shot it on location, mostly in Germany, but in Poland too. Metaxas talks about Bonhoeffer while sitting at his desk in the very bedroom in Berlin where he lived and was arrested, and in the backyard of that home where the gas cannisters were buried, which contained his famous Letters and Papers from Prison. He visits the site of Finkenwalde, now just over the border in Poland, and visits the gorgeous Igel Fraternity in Tübingen where he and his father were members. He even goes inside Tegel prison, which is still operating as a prison, virtually unchanged from Bonhoeffer’s time there. It will be demolished later this year. Here is a link to the first video, which you can watch in its entirety, to get a taste of the whole. And here’s a short trailer. To purchase the DVDs & Study Guide from, click here. To purchase from Amazon, click here. To purchase from, click here.
  • Did you see the season finale of Downton Abbey? If so, what did you think? It’s one of our favorite shows, but as I think about it, it’s a show that is almost completely devoid of evidence of faith in the life of any of the characters.Son of God
  • The new film Son of God will open nationwide on Friday, February 28.
  • Neon Steeple, the first solo album from David Crowder, now known as Crowder, will be released May 27.
  • NEEDTOBREATHE has announced dates for the first leg of the “Rivers in the Wasteland World Tour. Frecently announced tour dates. They will be at the Pageant in St. Louis June 13 and the House of Blues in St. Louis June 14 and 15. For more information, go to
  • Peter Furler, the talented former lead singer of the Newboys, will release Sun and Shield on Peter Furler BandMarch 11.
  • In case you missed it, here’s the video of U2 playing “Invisible” on the top of the Rockefeller Center and an acoustic version of “Ordinary Love” on Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show debut Monday:
  • Speaking of U2, check out this profile The State of U2 from The Hollywood Reporter:
  • And while we’re on the subject of my favorite bands making the rounds, check out Switchfoot performing “When We Come Alive” from their #1 album Fading West on Jimmy Kimmel Live! on February 19. Watch the video here:

Here’s something submitted by my friend Clay Johnson:

Time is like a river. You cannot touch the water twice, because the flow that has passed will never pass again. Enjoy every moment of life.
As a bagpiper, I play many gigs. Recently I was asked by a funeral director to play at a graveside service for a homeless man. He had no family or friends, so the service was to be at a pauper’s cemetery in the Nova Scotia back country.
As I was not familiar with the backwoods, I got lost and, being a typical man, I didn’t stop for directions.
I finally arrived an hour late and saw the funeral guy had evidently gone and the hearse was nowhere in sight. There were only the diggers and crew left and they were eating lunch. I felt badly and apologized to the men for being late.
I went to the side of the grave and looked down and the vault lid was already in place. I didn’t know what else to do, so I started to play.  The workers put down their lunches and began to gather around. I played out my heart and soul for this man with no family and friends. I played like I’ve never played before for this homeless man.
And as I played “Amazing Grace”, the workers began to weep. They wept, I wept, we all wept together. When I finished, I packed up my bagpipes and started for my car. Though my head was hung low, my heart was full.
As I opened the door to my car, I heard one of the workers say, “I never seen nothing like that before and I’ve been putting in septic tanks for twenty years.”
Apparently I’m still lost….it’s a man thing.



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Only one week remaining for “early bird” pricing for the Biblical Imagination Conference on Matthew and Michael Card Concert

Just a reminder that “early bird” pricing for the Biblical Imagination Conference on Matthew and Michael Card’s concert is available only through February 25.

Christ Church and East White Oak Bible Church are pleased to host respected singer/songwriter, Bible teacher and author Michael Card for the Biblical Imagination Conference Matthew: The Gospel of Identity on April 25-26, and concert on April 27. The conference will be held at Christ Church in Normal, and the concert at East White Oak Bible Church in Carlock.

This short promotional video will give you, your family and your church an idea of what to expect at the conference:

More details about the conference, including the schedule, are available at the conference site at:$13 concert poster

Tickets for the conference (which includes the concert) can be purchased at:

Tickets for the concert only can be purchased at:

Conference tickets are now just $48; after February 25, $58. Tickets for the concert only are now only $13; after February 25, $18.

Please share this on your personal Facebook sites and encourage your friends to attend.

If you have any questions, or need additional information, please contact Bill Pence at (309) 452-5438 or

~ THIS AND THAT ~R.C.'s 75th

  • Dr. R.C. Sproul celebrated his 75th birthday on February 13. The day before, blogger Tim Challies published his infographic on Sproul. You can see it here:
  • And speaking of R.C., his next book will be Everyone’s a Theologian, which will be released March 15 at Ligonier Ministries’ National Conference.
  • Here’s a helpful article from the Desiring God blog “Three Questions to Ask Before Watching a Movie”. Read it here:
  • All three of the excellent God’s Word for You series books by Tim Keller (on Galatians, Judges and Roman) are now 50% off from Christianaudio through February 28. Read more here:
  • Desiring God’s recent conference for Pastors focused on the topic of union with Christ. All the media from the conference is now available for unlimited streaming and download, all free of charge. Check out the messages by John Piper, Sinclair Ferguson, Michael Horton and others here:
  •  Here’s an interesting article from the Gospel Coalition about faith at work. Read it here:
  • And speaking of the Gospel Coalition, Council member Darrin Patrick, a pastor from St. Louis provides this interview with Mike Matheny, manager of the St. Louis Cardinals:
  • Sinclair Ferguson, one of my favorite theologians, shares lessons from a lifetime of pastoring in this video: Lessons from a Lifetime of Pastoring
  • Do you use the acrostic ACTS to guide your prayer time? Check out this short article on ACTS and then download the digital edition of R.C. Sproul’s book The Prayer of the Lord free during February –
  • Watch this four minute video from John Piper on the God who displays his glory not by our working for him, but his working for us: Evangelistic Zeal of George Whitefield
  • Steven Lawson’s latest book is The Evangelistic Zeal of George Whitfield. It is part of the Long Line of Godly Men Profiles series.
  •  “Alone Yet Not Alone”, the Joni Eareckson Tada song that had been nominated for an Oscar but then had the nomination revoked because of rules violations, is number one on the iTunes Christian and Gospel charts and #81 overall as of this writing.
  • The Peter Furler Band (former lead singer of the Newsboys) will release Sun and Shield on March 11.
  • The live album from the Passion 2014 conference will be released April 29.
  • Michael W. Smith’s new album, Sovereign, will be released May 13
  • U2 will perform their Oscar-nominated song Ordinary Love live for the first time on the Academy Award telecast on March 2.
  •  I’m a huge Beatles fan. They are my favorite band (followed in order by U2, Switchfoot and Jars of Clay). I remember watching my Aunt Linda screaming at the TV in her parents (my grandparents) living room in Chicago as the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show back in 1963. The surviving Beatles, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr appeared together twice recently, the below picture being from a celebration that took place on the 50th anniversary of their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show February 9, 1964.Paul and Ringo


New Page:  I Peter Paper ~ As I near my graduation from Covenant Seminary, I am revisiting a few of my assignments (papers, etc.) that I completed. Below is a paper I wrote on 1 Peter in 2008 for Dr. Chapman’s New Testament History and Theology course.  Thanks to friend and fellow elder Don Lusk for his review of my original paper and his helpful suggestions. (For this version, I have removed the footnoting to make reading easier).

Favorites! Page has been updated – send us a comment with your favorites.

Romans for YouBook Reviews ~ Romans 1-7 For You: For reading, for feeding, for leading (God’s Word for You) by Timothy Keller

New to the Leadership Library ~ Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain.iTunes Session - Third Day

Movie Reviews ~ The Lego Movie and About Time

Music Review ~ iTunes Session – Third Day

Quotable:    Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words – Francis of Assisi

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January 15, 2014

Adjustments to 2013 Favorites List
I had previously listed The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug as an honorable mention (runner-up) film, along with Fruitvale Station to Captain Phillips for my top film of 2013. We had seen The Hobbit on IMAX 3-D, but unfortunately I was tired from studying for my final exam and slept through what now appears to have been about half of the film. We saw it a second time on New Year’s Day and I was just blown away. So I have to amend my top movie listing to show The Hobbit as number one.
I also inadvertently left off two other items. First, “Ordinary Love” by U2 was left off of my best songs list. The song, their first new one in years, was included in the film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, which is reviewed this week. And second, I left off the excellent Downton Abbey from my list of top television shows.

JOSEPHNew Book Review ~ Joseph and the Gospel of Many Colors by Voddie Baucham Jr.

New Music RevFading Westiews ~ Fading West by Switchfoot and High Hopes by Bruce Springsteen High Hopes

New Movie Reviews ~ Nebraska and MandelaNebraskaMandela

Leadership Book Club ~ WEEK THREE

As we continue working through John Maxwell’s classic book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, this week we’ll look at the following two laws:
• The Law of Victory: Leaders Find a Way for the Team to Win
• The Law of the Big Mo: Momentum is a leader’s best friend

John Maxwell has his own page with lots of New Book Reviews – click here.

Official BIS Logo

Get your Tickets Now!! Michael Card’s Biblical Imagination Conference Returns to Christ Church in Normal in April.
Singer/songwriter, Bible teacher and author Michael Card will bring the Biblical Imagination Conference Matthew: The Gospel of Identity, to Christ Church (PCA) in Normal, Illinois April 25-26, 2014. The Sunday night concert will be held at East White Oak Bible Church, so that we can accommodate more people (as the 2012 concert filled our sanctuary).
You can purchase conference tickets (which includes the concert) at:
You can purchase concert only tickets at:
Conference (includes the concert) tickets are now $48; after February 25, $58. Tickets for the concert only are now $13; after February 25, $18.
If you are coming from out of town, we are excited to offer special conference hotel rates at the Hilton DoubleTree hotel. Just mention the Biblical Imagination Conference and you will get a $79 rate on a standard room, which includes their breakfast buffet. Reservations need to be made by April 18 to receive this rate. (309-664-6446)
More information about the Biblical Imagination Conference can be found at the conference site at
Additional Biblical Imagination Conference and Michael Card resources can be found at:
We hope you can join us for the conference and/or concert. Please pass this information along to others you feel may have an interest. If you have any questions at all, please contact me at or at (309) 452-5438.

This and That
• Join the Duck Commander family on January 15 at 9:00pm on A&E for the Season 5 premiere of Duck Dynasty. These two new episodes promise to be filled with lots of laughter, lots of fun, and more of the crazy stuff you have come to know and love from the Robertson’s. We will get to meet Rebecca Robertson as she makes her debut and then there is a surprise family member we’re going to meet. Could it be Mrs. Si? Who knows?

• Fernando Ortega has been invited to sing with guest speaker Ravi Zacharias at the Mormon Tabernacle. Tickets are sold out but you can watch the event live on the internet. The event is this Saturday, January 18th from 6:30-8:30 p.m. MST. You can watch it here.

• Next Tuesday, January 21 at 6:30pm, Dr. Sproul will be live online via video answering your theological questions. You will be able to submit questions to him in real-time or in advance by using #AskRC on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Check out more at

• Ligonier Ministries is offering the e-book version of R.C. Sproul’s commentary on the Gospel of John free during the month of January. Read this article for more information:

• Each month Christianaudio offers a free audio book download. This month they are offering the ESV Hear the Word Audio Bible, a great choice and the translation of the Bible that I have used since it was introduced in 2001. Download your free copy here.

• 12 Years as a Slave and American Hustle were big winners at the January 12 Golden Globe Awards. One of my favorite new television shows Brooklyn Nine-Nine also was a surprise winner. Read more here:

• In a recent interview with Marie Claire Magazine, pop star Katy Perry, a former contemporary Christian artist, announced that she no longer believes in Heaven or Hell nor professes to be a Christian. Read more here:

• At least two more Christian publishers are investigating concerns of plagiarism regarding Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. Read this article from World Magazine here:

• John Piper writes “Since 2007, millions of people have read books and taken inventories designed to find our strengths. These are useful for positioning people in places of maximum effectiveness.” Read his article “Don’t Waste Your Weaknesses in 2014” here:

• On January 1, Desiring God revealed their redesigned website. Check out the article announcing the upgrade here:

• Check out this article from The New York Times about the current Calvinist revival:

• Kevin DeYoung recently posted “10 Questions for the New Year”. Read that helpful article here:

• Ligonier Ministries recently compiled the best articles from their blog from 2013. Read the articles here:

• John Piper was one of the speakers at the new Cross conference, a new Missions conference for students. The below article captures some of the best quotes from the conference, as well as a video of one of Piper’s messages “The Chief End of Missions: The Supremacy of God in the Joy of All Peoples”:

• Desiring God recently compiled their best videos of 2013. You can view them at this article:

• Desiring God also revealed their top 13 posts of the year. You can read them here:

• Collin Hansen recently compiled the Gospel Coalition’s Editor Choices for 2013. Check them out at this article:

• Ed Stetzer recently published this article on the 10 best church signs of 2013. Check them out here.

• Tim Tebow has been hired by ESPN as an analyst on their new SEC Network. Read more here:,0,

• Needtobreathe will release Wasteland, their follow-up to 2011’s excellent The Reckoning, on April 15.