Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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MY 2017 FAVORITES…so far


It’s hard to believe that we are at mid-year already. I wanted to share with you some of my favorites from the first half of 2017 in a variety of categories. Except for books, these are all items that were released or took place in 2017. For books, I include my favorite books that I’ve actually read thus far during 2017.  Enjoy, and please let me know what you think of my list and share some of your favorites.

Music ~ I enjoy music in a variety of genres. My favorites thus far are:

Albums ~Top Pick: Crooked – Propaganda

Here are the rest of my favorite albums (in no particular order) thus far:

  • The Joshua Tree (Super Deluxe) – U2
  • Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Deluxe Edition) – Beatles
  • Triplicate – Bob Dylan
  • The Misadventures of Fern & Marty – Social Club Misfits
  • Cinco – Jim Gaffigan
  • Flowers in the Dirt (Special Edition) – Paul McCartney

Songs ~ Top pick: Blessings – Lecrae (featuring TY Dollar $ign)                

Here are the rest of my favorite songs (in no particular order), thus far:

  • Revival – Third Day
  • I’ll Find You – Lecrae featuring Tori Kelly
  • My Song is Love Unknown – Fernando Ortega
  • Your Cross Changes Everything – Matt Redman
  • Your Love Defends Me – Matt Maher

Concerts  ~ Top Pick: U2’s The Joshua Tree Tour at Soldier Field in Chicago with the Lumineers opening.

Musicals  ~ Top Pick: Hamilton in Chicago

Books ~ In this category, while many of the books were published in 2017, I list the best of the books I actually read in 2017. My favorites thus far are:

Top pick: The Legacy of Luther, edited by R.C. Sproul and Stephen Nichols

Here are the rest of my favorite books (in no particular order), thus far:

  • The Gospel According to Paul: Embracing the Good News at the Heart of Paul’s Teachings – John MacArthur
  • Glory in the Ordinary: Why Your Work in the Home Matters to God – Courtney Reisigg
  • Learning to Love the Psalms – Robert Godfrey
  • Calling to Christ: Where’s My Place? – Robert Smart
  • Discipleship with Monday in Mind: How Churches Across the Country Are Helping Their People Connect Faith and Work – Skye Jethani and Luke Bobo
  • Between Heaven and the Real World: My Story – Steven Curtis Chapman
  • Leaders Made Here: Building a Leadership Culture – Mark Miller
  • Workplace Grace – Bill Peel and Walt Larimore
  • Befriend: Create Belonging in an Age of Judgment, Isolation, and Fear – Scott Sauls
  • Reset – David Murray
  • Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen

See what I’m reading now.

Movies ~ I usually see at least one movie a week. Here is the best – and the worst – of what I’ve seen thus far:

Top Pick:  Hidden Figures

Here are the rest of my favorite movies (in no particular order), thus far:

  • Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2
  • Gifted
  • The Case for Christ
  • A United Kingdom
  • Beauty and the Beast
  • Get Out
  • Lion
  • Baby Driver
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Unfortunately, there have also been a few poor movies I’ve seen as well. Here are the two worst movies I’ve seen thus far:

  • The Resurrection of Gavin Stone
  • The Zookeeper’s Wife

Television Program

Top Pick:  The Profit. Season 4 is finally here. If you are not familiar with this show, read more about it here.

Podcasts

Top Pick: Albert Mohler’s The Briefing. Each weekday morning, Albert Mohler hosts a podcast providing worldview analysis about the leading news headlines and cultural conversations.  This is required listening for me. Check out Dr. Mohler’s website.

Also, I was happy to hear recently that Malcolm Gladwell’s excellent podcast Revisionist History returning for season two. Listen to the first episode “A Good Walk Spoiled” here.

Blogs

Top Pick: Tim Challies’ Ala Carte. This is required reading for me each Monday through Saturday. Challies includes helpful Kindle deals, links to a good variety of helpful articles and a quote.  Check out Tim’s website.

Another blog that is required reading for me each day is HeadHeartHand from David Murray, author of the excellent new book Reset.

Recommended New Teaching Series

The Lord’s Prayer by Albert Mohler. In this twelve-part series, Dr. Albert Mohler shows that the pattern of prayer Jesus provides is few in words, yet massive in meaning. His prayer reflects true theology and proper doxology—a perfect guide for our own lives. I listened to this series as our book club was studying Tim Keller’s book Prayer.

Recommended Resources

Luther: The Life and Legacy of the German Reformer.  See my review of this excellent new documentary.

Dispatches from the Front: The Fourth Man. If you are not familiar with this set of videos from Frontline Missions and Tim Keesee you should be. For more information go here.

Conference

Top Pick: Ligonier Ministries National Conference: The Next 500 Years. Watch or listen to all of the messages here.

These are my favorites in a variety of categories.  What about you? Please share your favorites.


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10 Books I Plan to Read This Summer

The summer is a great time to get some reading in. I have several books on my “to be read” list (aka my “on deck circle”). Here are ten of them I hope to read this summer:

42 Faith: The Rest of the Jackie Robinson Story by Ed Henry

This book brings a different perspective to the well-known Jackie Robinson story. From Amazon: “Journalist and baseball lover Ed Henry reveals for the first time the backstory of faith that guided Jackie Robinson into not only the baseball record books but the annals of civil rights advancement as well. Through recently discovered sermons, interviews with Robinson’s family and friends, and even an unpublished book by the player himself, Henry details a side of Jackie’s humanity that few have taken the time to see.”

Work Matters: Lessons from Scripture by R. Paul Stevens

I recently started reading this book about work that was listed as recommended reading by Redeemer Presbyterian Church’s Center for Faith and Work. From Amazon: “In Work Matters marketplace theology expert R. Paul Stevens revisits more than twenty biblical accounts — from Genesis to Revelation — exploring through them the theological meaning of every sort of work, manual or intellectual, domestic or commercial. Taken together, his short, pithy reflections on these well-known Bible passages add up to a comprehensive, Bible-based theology of work — one that will be equally useful for seminars, classes, Bible studies, and individuals seeking to grasp more fully the theological dimensions of their daily labor.”

Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture by David Murray

I am a regular reader of David Murray’s HeadHeartHand blog and I appreciated his book Christians Get Depressed Too. From Amazon: “Drawing on personal experiences—and time spent counseling other men in the midst of burnout—David Murray offers weary men hope for the future, helping them identify the warning signs of burnout and offering practical strategies for developing patterns that are necessary for living a grace-paced life and reaching the finish line with their joy intact.”

Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans

My wife Tammy and I are reading and discussing this book this summer. I first heard about it from the Center for Faith and Work at Redeemer Presbyterian Church. From Amazon: “In this book, Bill Burnett and Dave Evans show us how design thinking can help us create a life that is both meaningful and fulfilling, regardless of who or where we are, what we do or have done for a living, or how young or old we are. The same design thinking responsible for amazing technology, products, and spaces can be used to design and build your career and your life, a life of fulfillment and joy, constantly creative and productive, one that always holds the possibility of surprise.”

Working for Our Neighbor: A Lutheran Primer on Vocation, Economics, and Ordinary Life by Gene Veith

Gene Veith’s God at Work is one of the best books I read about integrating our faith and work. I’m looking forward to this new book from him. From Amazon: “In this elucidating work, Gene Edward Veith connects vocation to justification, good works, and Christian freedom—defining how the Lutheran contribution to economics can transfigure ordinary life, and work, with the powerful presence of God.”

Why the Reformation Still Matters by Michael Reeves and Tim Chester

I’ve read several of Michael Reeves books and seen him speak at the last two Ligonier National conferences. I also enjoyed Tim Chester’s book Gospel Centered Work. With this year being the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, this is a timely book to read. From Amazon: “In this accessible primer, Michael Reeves and Tim Chester answer eleven key questions raised by the Reformers—questions that remain critically important for the church today.”

Rediscovering the Holy Spirit: God’s Perfecting Presence in Creation, Redemption, and Everyday Life by Michael Horton

Over the years I’ve read several of Michael Horton’s books, seen him speak at conferences and enjoyed his White Horse Inn radio program. From Amazon: “In Rediscovering the Holy Spirit, author, pastor, and theologian Mike Horton introduces readers to the neglected person of the Holy Spirit, showing that the work of God’s Spirit is far more ordinary and common than we realize. Horton argues that we need to take a step back every now and again to focus on the Spirit himself—his person and work—in order to recognize him as someone other than Jesus or ourselves, much less something in creation. Through this contemplation we can gain a fresh dependence on the Holy Spirit in every area of our lives.”

The Mythical Leader: The Seven Myths of Leadership by Ron Edmondson

I enjoy reading pastor Ron Edmondson’s blog on leadership and am looking forward to this new book. From Amazon: “In The Mythical Leader, Edmondson exposes some of the most common misunderstandings of leadership, shares stories from his own experiences, and will help church leaders develop healthier patterns to improve their individual leadership.”

A Little Book on the Christian Life by John Calvin 

I’m looking forward to this new translation of Calvin’s classic book from Burk Parsons and Aaron Denlinger. From Amazon: “For centuries, disciples young and old have turned to this book for guidance in the Christian life. Today, it remains unique in its clear exposition of God’s calling for Christians to pursue holiness, endure suffering, and fulfill their callings. This is a book for every Christian to pick up, read, and apply.”

H3 Leadership: Be Humble. Stay Hungry. Always Hustle by Brad Lomenick

I enjoyed reading Brad Lomenick’s book The Catalyst Leader and regularly read his blog on leadership. From Amazon: “He categorizes 20 essential leadership habits organized into three distinct filters he calls “the 3 Hs”: Humble (Who am I?), Hungry (Where do I want to go?) and Hustle (How will I get there?). These powerful words describe the leader who is willing to work hard, get it done, and make sure it’s not about him or her; the leader who knows that influence is about developing the right habits for success. Lomenick provides a simple but effective guide on how to lead well in whatever capacity the reader may be in.”

These are the books I’m looking forward to reading or listening to this summer. How about you? What’s on your reading list?


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My 2016 Favorites

these-are-a-few-of-my-favorite-thingsAs I have for the past several years, I want to share with you some of my favorites from 2016 in a variety of categories. These are all items that were released or took place in 2016 except for books; I include my favorite books of the 62 that I’ve actually read during 2016.  My top 20 books include three each by Sinclair Ferguson and Tim Keller and two by Bryan Chapell.  Enjoy, and please let me know what you think of my list and share some of your favorites.

Never Lose Sight - Chris TomlinFavorite Music Album:  Never Lose Sight by Chris Tomlin. Here’s my review.

Here are the rest of my top 20 favorite albums, listed in order:

  1. Where the Light Shines Through – Switchfoot
  2. Church Clothes 3 – Lecrae
  3. Keep Me Singing – Van Morrison
  4. Spirit – Amos Lee
  5. All at Once – Phil Keaggy
  6. American Prodigal – Crowder
  7. The Waiting Room – Trip Lee
  8. These Christmas Lights – Matt Redman
  9. Fallen Angels – Bob Dylan
  10. Facing a Task Unfinished – Keith and Kristyn Getty
  11. Hard Love – NEEDTOBREATHE
  12. Wow to the Deadness (EP) – Steve Taylor and the Danielson Foil
  13. This Time Around (EP) – Tedashii
  14. Blue and Lonesome – Rolling Stones
  15. Hymns II – Michael W. Smith
  16. Worship and Believe – Steven Curtis Chapman
  17. I Still Can – Eric Clapton
  18. Stranger to Stranger – Paul Simon
  19. Acoustic Christmas – Neil Diamond

yes-and-amen-chris-tomlinFavorite Song:  Yes and Amen by Chris Tomlin

Here are the rest of my top 10 favorite songs, listed in order, along with one bonus song from Trip Lee:

  1. Running Out of Time – Amos Lee
  2. My Victory – Crowder
  3. Jumped Out the Whip – Tedashii
  4. Float – Switchfoot
  5. My Worth Is Not In Not In What I Own – Keith and Kristyn Getty with Fernando Ortega
  6. Testify – NEEDTOBREATHE
  7. Children Go Where I Send Thee – Neil Diamond with the Blind Boys of Alabama
  8. I’m Good – Tedashii
  9. I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine – Eric Clapton

Bonus song: Clouds – Trip Lee

chris-tomlinFavorite Artist of the Year: Obviously Chris Tomlin is my top artist for the year. He has my top album – Never Lose Sight – and song “Yes and Amen” and his song “Good Good Father”, though released in October, 2015, still topped 2016’s Billboard’s Christian Digital Songs chart.

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Save your Pennies!  Looking Forward to Good New Books

booksI love to read, and I know that many of you do as well. There are several books scheduled to be published by the end of this year and into 2017 that I am looking forward to. Here are several of them:

The Better Pastor – Patrick Lencioni     The Better Pastor Patrick Lencioni

This book was just published August 16. From Amazon “As he approached the door to the sacristy, Fr. Daniel Connor had no idea that his parish and his priesthood was about to be changed forever.

THE BETTER PASTOR is a fictional yet realistic story, lovingly written for all those priests in the world who are not only spiritual shepherds but also leaders of the organizations we call parishes. Being the pastor of a Catholic parish is one of the most challenging jobs in the world. Whether they are responsible for a small rural parish, medium-sized urban one, or large suburban mega- parish, all pastors have one thing in common: they can’t do it alone. Unfortunately, many wonderful priests find that becoming a pastor can be overwhelming and lonely, and can even diminish the joy of their vocation. This is a tragedy, and an unnecessary one.  In his first book intended specifically for clergy, Patrick Lencioni tells the story of a priest who is challenged to think differently about his job. As he does in his other leadership fables written for the secular world, Lencioni quickly cuts to the heart of the challenge faced by leaders, and he provokes them to embrace simple but powerful concepts that can change the way they work and serve the people God has put in their lives.”

Andrew Fuller by John PiperAndrew Fuller: Holy Faith, Worthy Gospel, World Mission – John Piper

This short book will be published August 31. From Amazon “Missionary biographies often inspire enthusiasm, zeal, and urgency for missions among God’s people. But how do Christians give their lives to missions if they feel called to remain in their homeland? In 1792, British pastor Andrew Fuller formed the Baptist Missionary Society, an organization dedicated to the promotion of mission work both at home and overseas. In this concise biography, best-selling author John Piper introduces readers to this incredible Christian who—although he never served abroad himself—inspired the modern missionary movement that gave rise to such figures as William Carey and Hudson Taylor. Working tirelessly to raise funds for missionaries in the field and championing the importance of sound doctrine for fruitfulness in missions, Fuller stands as an example to all Christians eager to devote themselves to knowing, guarding, and spreading the true gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth.”

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My 2016 Favorites at Mid-Year

A Few of My Favorite ThingsAs we have the mid-year point, I want to share with you some of my favorites from 2016 in a variety of categories. Except for books, these are all items that were released or took place in 2016. For books, I include my favorite books that I’ve actually read during 2016.  Enjoy, and please let me know what you think by clicking on the ‘Comment’ link above.

MUSIC:  I enjoy music in a variety of genres. My favorites were:

Albums

Top Pick:  Church Clothes 3 – LecraeChurch Clothes 3

Other albums that I’ve enjoyed have been:

Wow to the Deadness (EP) – Steve Taylor and the Danielson Foil

Fallen Angels – Bob Dylan

Stranger to Stranger – Paul Simon

Hymns II – Michael W. Smith

Salvation’s Tide is Rising – Passion

Love Riot – Newsboys

Worship and Believe – Steven Curtis Chapman

This Time Around (EP) – Tedashjii

Facing a Task Unfinished – Keith and Kristyn Getty

I’m really looking forward to two July releases – Where the Light Shines Through by Switchfoot and Hard Love by NEEDTOBREATHE .

Songs

Top pick:  Jumped Out the Whip – Tedashii

Other songs I’ve enjoyed have been:

Float – Switchfoot

My Worth Is Not In Not In What I Own – Keith and Kristyn Getty with Fernando Ortega

Vaporized – Amos LeeJumped Out the Whip – Tedashii

That Old Black Magic – Bob Dylan

It Is What It Is – Lecrae

God and God Alone – Chris Tomlin

I Trust in Christ – Matt Redman

Wow to the Deadness – Steve Taylor and the Perfect Foil

Cool Papa Bell – Paul Simon

Down to the River to Pray – Michael W. Smith

I Don’t Know Why (Jesus Loves Me) – Michael W. Smith

White Bikini – Charlie Peacock

Happiness – NEEDTOBREATHE

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2015 Favorites – So Far

FavoritesAs we approach mid-year, I wanted to take a quick look back and share some of my favorite music, books, movies and a new podcast.

Music

I enjoy music in a variety of genres. As a result, you will see in my 2015 favorites thus far music in such diverse genres as hip-hop/rap to sacred music. My favorites thus far, in order are:

Albums:

  • Saints and Sinners – Matt Maher
  • Before This World – James Taylor
  • Glory to the Holy One: Sacred Music for the People of God – Jeff Lippencott and R.C. Sproul
  • Shadows in the Night – Bob Dylan
  • Tomorrow We Live – KB
  • Lead Us Back: Songs of Worship – Third Day
  • Duets: Reworking the Catalogue – Van Morrison
  • Live from Red Rocks – Amos Lee
  • Live from the Woods – NEEDTOBREATHE
  • The Wonderlands: Sunlight (EP) – Jon Foreman
  • Passion: Even So Come – Various Artists

Albums that I’m aware of being released later this year that I’m looking forward to are:

  • Unbroken Praise – Matt Redman (June 16)
  • The Wonderlands: Shadows (EP) – Jon Foreman (July 17)
  • This is Not a Test – Toby Mac (August 7)

Songs:

Top choice is “Abide with Me” written and performed by Matt Maher. Matt Redman has also covered the song on his new live worship album Unbroken Praise.  Other songs I’ve enjoyed thus far this year, in no particular order are:

  • Soul on Fire – Third Day
  • Sideways – KB (featuring Lecrae)
  • Wonder – Crowder
  • Even So Come – Chris Tomlin
  • Clothed in Righteousness – Jeff Lippencott and R.C. Sproul
  • That Lucky Old Sun – Bob Dylan
  • Watchin’ Over Me –James Taylor
  • Sweet Pea (live version) – Amos Lee

Books

In this category, while many of the books will have been released in 2015, I list those books I have actually read in 2015. My favorites thus far, in order are:

  1. Reformation Study Bible (revised and updated edition)
  2. Spurgeon’s Sorrows: Realistic Hope for those who Suffer from Depression – Zack Eswine
  3. A Loving Life: In a World of Broken Relationships – Paul Miller
  4. Counter Culture: A Compassionate Call to Counter Culture in a World of Poverty, Same-Sex Marriage, Racism, Sex Slavery, Immigration, Abortion, Persecution, Orphans and Pornography- David Platt
  5. Rising to the Call: Discover the Ultimate Purpose of Your Life – Os Guinness
  6. John Knox: Fearless Faith – Steven Lawson
  7. Work Matters: Connecting Sunday Worship to Monday Work – Tom Nelson
  8. The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert – Rosaria Butterfield
  9. The Next Story: Faith, Friends, Family, and the Digital World (revised and updated edition) – Tim Challies
  10. Rise: Get Up and Live in God’s Great Story – Trip Lee
  11. The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do – Jeff Goins
  12. Molina: The Story of the Father Who Raised an Unlikely Baseball Dynasty – Bengie Molina
  13. Chess Not Checkers: Elevate Your Leadership Game – Mark Miller
  14. The New One Minute Manager – Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson
  15. The Mingling of Souls: God’s Design for Love, Marriage, Sex, and Redemption – Matt Chandler

See what I’m reading now.

Movies

We love going to the movies, but frankly it’s been a very disappointing year so far. My favorites thus far, in order are:

  1. Avengers: The Age of Ultron
  2. Cinderella
  3. McFarland USA
  4. Woman in Gold
  5. The Drop Box
  6. Far From the Madding Crowd

New Podcast

Over the past few years Eric Metaxas has become one of my favorite authors. I was excited to hear about his radio show and even more excited when it became available in podcast.

 What are some of your favorites thus far this year?


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Bill’s 2014 Favorites

Here are my favorites from 2014 in a variety of categories along with some input from friends and family. I’d be interested in what you think, and what some of your favorites were. Enjoy!

Television Programs
#1 – St. Louis Cardinal Baseball on Fox Sports Midwest (of course)
#2 – The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon
#3 – Duck Dynasty
#4 – Blacklist
#5 – Downton Abbey
#6 – Castle
#7 – The Profit

Radio Station
Hot 95.9 (Orlando, Florida) You can listen online!

Books These are my favorite books I read this year, some of which were published prior to 2014.
1. Everyone’s a Theologian – R.C. Sproul
2. What’s Best Next – Matt Perman
3. The Trinitarian Devotion of John Owen – Sinclair Ferguson
4. John: The Gospel of Wisdom – Michael Card
5. Taking God at His Word – Kevin DeYoung
6. Ordinary – Michael Horton
7. Romans for You Chapters 1-7 – Tim Keller
8. 41: A Portrait of My Father – George W. Bush
9. The Gospel at Work – Sebastian Traeger and Greg Gilbert
10. Visions of Vocation – Steven Garber

Other books I enjoyed this year:
Don’t Give Up, Don’t Give In – Louis Zamperini
God Took Me by the Hand – Jerry Bridges
Killing Patton – Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard
Not By Sight – Jon Bloom
The Evangelistic Zeal of George Whitefield – Steven Lawson
Good Leaders Ask Great Questions – John Maxwell
You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity – Francis Chan and Lisa Chan
Quiet – Susan Cain
How then Should We Work? – Hugh Whelchel
The Five Love Languages – Gary Chapman
A Godward Heart – John Piper
Michael Jordan: The Life – Roland Lazenby
The Kid: The Immortal Life of Ted Williams – Ben Bradlee Jr.
Wooden: A Coach’s Life – Seth Davis
God at Work – Gene Veith
The Noticer – Andy Andrews
God and the Gay Christian? A Response to Matthew Vines. – Edited by R. Albert Mohler Jr.
Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig – Jonathan Eig
Good Call – Jase Robertson
Recovering Redemption – Matt Chandler
One Nation – Ben Carson
Joy, Inc.: How We Built a Workplace People Love by Richard Sheridan
Miracles – Eric Metaxas

Movies

We usually see at least one movie a week. Here are my top ten and then a few others in no particular order:

Best:
1. The Good Lie
2. Unbroken
3. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
4. Whiplash
5. Edge of Tomorrow: Live, Die, Repeat
6. St. Vincent
7. Chef
8. Into the Woods
9. Guardians of the Galaxy
10. The Judge

Other movies I enjoyed were (in no particular order):
Big Hero 6
Ernest and Celestine
The Hundred Foot Journey
The Railway Man
The Amazing Spider Man
Nightcrawler

Worst:
Birdman
Calvary
Mom’s Night Out
Magic in the Moonlight
And So It Goes
Ride Along

Music

Artist of the Year: Lecrae – Anomaly and Owner of Reach Records (KB, Andy Mineo, Trip Lee and Tedasi Releases)

Albums
Many of my favorite artists released albums this year. Here are my top ten and then a several others I enjoyed in no particular order:
#1 – Songs of Innocence Deluxe Edition – U2
#2 – Anomaly – Lecrae
#3 – Goliath – Steve Taylor and the Perfect Foil
#4 – Rise – Trip Lee
#5 – Love Ran Red – Chris Tomlin
#6 – Neon Steeple – Crowder
#7 – Fading West/The Edge of the Earth – Switchfoot
#8 – Rivers in the Wasteland – NEEDTOBREATHE
#9 – John: The Misunderstood Gospel – Michael Card
#10 – The Spirit of Christmas – Michael W. Smith and Friends

Other music I enjoyed (in no particular order):
20 – Jars of Clay
The Greengrass Sessions – Keith and Kristyn Getty (EP)
High Hopes – Bruce Springsteen
Peter Furler Christmas featuring David Ian
Terms of My Surrender – John Hiatt
All the People Said Amen – Matt Maher
Sovereign – Michael W. Smith
Hymns – Michael W. Smith
Never Land – Andy Mineo (EP)
Sun and Shield – Peter Furler Band
Crimson Cord – Propadanda
Below Paradise – Tedashii
Obsession – Jim Gaffigan

Songs
#1 – At the Cross (Love Ran Red) – Chris Tomlin

Other songs that I enjoyed this year:
Shweet – Trip Lee
A Life Preserved – Steve Taylor and the Perfect Foil
Because He Lives – Matt Maher
Detroit Made – Bob Seger
Coulda Been Me – Trip Lee
Say I Won’t – Lecrae featuring Andy Mineo
Invisible – U2
Every Breaking Wave (Acoustic Sessions version) – U2
Almost There – Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant
All is Well – Michael W. Smith and Carrie Underwood
The Heart – NEEDTOBREATHE
Multiply – NEEDTOBREATHE
Something in the Water – Carrie Underwood
100 – KB
Daywalkers – Propaganda with Lecrae
I Am – Crowder
Come as You Are – Crowder
All I’ve Ever Done – Michael Card (vocal by Ginny Owens)
The One that Really Matters – Michael W. Smith and Kari Jobe
Christ Be All Around Me – Michael W. Smith
Terms of My Surrender – John Hiatt
If You Love Her – Jars of Clay

Concerts
We saw more concerts this year than we have for several years. Here are my top two and then the others are not in any particular order:
1. Paul McCartney at the United Center in Chicago
2. James Taylor at the Ravinia Festival in Highland Park
Fernando Ortega at First Baptist Church in Pekin
Chris Tomlin and Brandon Heath at US Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington
Michael Card at East White Oak Church in Carlock
Ringo Starr and his All-Starr Band at the Fox Theatre in St. Louis
Toby Mac and Matt Maher at Braden Auditorium at Illinois State University
Keith and Kristyn Getty at Grace Presbyterian Church in Peoria

Podcasts
#1 – The Briefing (Albert Mohler) – essential listening every morning.
#2 – The Andy Stanley Leadership podcast

Blog
Informing the Reforming (Tim Challies) – essential reading every morning.

Teaching Series
1. Lessons from the Upper Room – Sinclair Ferguson
2. The Pilgrim’s Progress: A Guided Tour – Derek Thomas
3. A New Identity: The Gospel of Matthew – Michael Card

Conference
#1 – 2014 Ligonier Ministries National Conference in Orlando
#2 – Mathew: The Gospel of Identity (Biblical Imagination Conference) at Christ Church in Normal, Illinois

And Just for Fun…

Pizza
• Home Run Inn – Chicago
• Tobin’s – Bloomington, Illinois
• Agatucci’s – Peoria
• Imo’s – St. Louis
• Giordano’s – multiple locations, favorite being just outside Downtown Disney in Orlando

Ice Cream
• Ted Drewe’s – St. Louis
• Wilson’s – Ephraim, Wisconsin (Door County)
• Kilwin’s – multiple locations, favorite being Celebration, Florida

Fast Food
• Chick Fil-A
• Five Guys Burgers and Fries

Breakfast
• Original Pancake House – multiple locations, favorite being Chesterfield, Missouri

Place to Visit
• Orlando
• St. Louis

Date Night
• Dinner and a good movie

2014 Favorites of Family and Friends

MOVIES:

Tammy Pence (my bride and founding member of the Friday Night Movie Club)
Best:
The Good Lie
Edge of Tomorrow
Chef

Worst:
Calvary
Birdman
Mom’s Night Out

Mike Pence (Brother)
Best:
Magic in the Moonlight
The Judge
Big Hero 6
Transformers
That Awkward Moment

Julie Pence (Sister in Law)
Best:
1. Guardians of the Galaxy
2. The Judge
3. Gone Girl
4. Chef
5. Begin Again

Al Williams (brother in law)
Movies He’s Glad He Saw:
A Most Wanted Man
Begin Again
The Hundred Foot Journey

Teri Williams (Sister in Law)
Liked:
Begin Again
The Equalizer

Jason Halm (long-time work colleague and a huge movie fan)
Best:
1. Snowpiercer (favorite script and execution of the script this year)
2. Grand Budapest Hotel (Ralph Fiennes was my favorite performance of the year)
3. Whiplash
4. Guardians of the Galaxy
5. Birdman
6. Interstellar (favorite special effects)
7. Boyhood
8. The Theory of Everything
9. X-men: Days of Future Past
10. Life Itself

Honorable Mention: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – this is a great tie-in to Marvel movies. Look for Netflix TV shows that will supplement the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Worst TV show and Movie:
1. The Following: Season 2. I watched the whole thing after feeling lukewarm about Season 1. I’ll not be watching Season 3.
2. The Other Woman (simply horrible – worst movie that I’ve seen all year)

Jeff Haab (friend)
Best Comedy Record:
Mandatory Fun by Weird Al Yankovic