Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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“One King at a Time”: An Approach to Completing Those Seemingly Overwhelming Tasks

staircase-take-the-first-stepWhen I returned to seminary ten years ago, my first class was in Old Testament History. I can still remember that we were at a church gathering at a friend’s home when my pastor asked me who my professor was; when I told him, he grimaced. He said “He’s pretty tough. In fact, his nickname is “The Smiling Assassin”.  Seriously? A seminary professor nicknamed “The Smiling Assassin”?
Taking seminary classes while working 50-plus hours a week was always a challenge for me. My wife can tell you that each time I opened up the syllabus, I immediately went into “I can’t do this. There is a class project, two papers, a mid-term and a final along with lots of books to read. How can they expect all of this?” She would always have to “talk me off the ledge”. But it was during this first class back at Covenant Seminary though that she instilled in me a concept that I still use today.
“The Smiling Assassin” told us from the beginning of the class that we would have to memorize the 39 kings of Judah and Israel in order for the final exam and whether they were good or bad. And these guys didn’t have names like Bill or Mike either. No, they had names like Jeroboam and Jehoshaphat. There was just no way I was going to be able to memorize all of these strange names and in order, too. I was overwhelmed.  My first class back and I had no confidence that I could handle the work.
It was then Tammy said, “You’re right. You can’t memorize 39 kings, in order, all at once. But you can start with one king, and then do another the next day, and then one more the next day. Eventually, you will get to 39”. In other words, while memorizing 39 strange names in order was completely overwhelming, her advice was to memorize “one king at a time”.  It’s a great concept that you can apply for yourself.
Do you have a major project that you’ve been assigned? You have a due date and its weighing on you, causing anxiety; you’re always thinking about it; it’s overwhelming you?! Maybe it’s even impacting your health and sleep. Don’t procrastinate – Get started today. I’ve found that I take away much of the anxiety of a task on my “To Do” list if I just get started – whether it’s writing a paper, studying for an exam or completing an assignment at work.  While some people tell me that they perform better under pressure by waiting until the last minute, that’s not for me. No, get started today. Take Tammy’s advice and do “one king at a time”.

What about you? How do you address those seemingly overwhelming tasks on your “To Do” list?

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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

 

~ THIS AND THAT ~

  • Watch this short but challenging video from Francis Chan titled “Are You Boring?” here: http://crazylove.org/#
  •  Check out this video of St. Louis Cardinal slugger Matt Holliday discussing his faith in Christ: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PiJ2zYGXxY0&feature=share
  • R.C. Sproul writes what Reformed Theology means by the term “Total Depravity” in his article “How Sinful is Man?” Read it here: http://www.ligonier.org/blog/how-sinful-man/
  • Tim Challies has developed a helpful “Porn-Free Family Plan” to deal with desktop computers, laptops, tablets, Smart phones, etc. Check it out here: http://www.challies.com/articles/the-porn-free-family-plan?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzEmail&utm_content=5575&utm_campaign=0
  • 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: http://www.golfchannel.com/tv/arnie/
  • 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 http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/scottysmith/. 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 http://www.albertmohler.com/2014/04/17/the-briefing-04-17-14/
  • 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: https://www.barna.org/barna-update/culture/664-the-state-of-the-bible-6-trends-for-2014#.U1JxR40U_3i
  • This is an interesting article by Joseph Sunde – “Oprah, Rob Bell, And Faux Self-Empowerment For The Self-Centered”.  Read it here: http://thefederalist.com/2014/04/07/oprah-rob-bell-and-faux-self-empowerment-for-the-self-centered/

 

BOOKS –

 

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: http://www.challies.com/book-reviews/heaven-is-for-real
  • Randy Alcorn recently reviewed the movie version of Heaven is for Real. Read his review here: http://www.epm.org/blog/2014/Apr/18/heaven-real-movie

 

MUSIC –

  • 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 http://philipbailey.com/
  • 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: http://store.michaelcard.com/conference.aspx

Tickets for the concert only are just $18, and can also be purchased at: http://store.michaelcard.com/concerttickets.aspx

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

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~ UPDATED PAGES ON THE BLOG ~

BOOK REVIEWS –

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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April 1, 2014

~ UPDATED PAGES ON THE BLOG ~

Reflections on my time at Covenant Theological Seminary

I’m Currently Reading….

Book Review: Double Play by Ben and Julianna Zobrist with Mike Yorkey

Leadership Library – Books by John Maxwell:  Home Run: Learn God’s Game Plan for Life and Leadership by Kevin Myers and John C. Maxwell

Movie Reviews: 12 Years a Slave, Noah, The Grand Budapest Hotel

Music Review: Hymns by Michael W. Smith

 

~ THIS AND THAT ~

  • Just two days after announcing it would hire Christians in same-sex marriages, World Vision U.S. has reversed its ground-breaking decision after weathering intense criticism from evangelical leaders. Read more here: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2014/march-web-only/world-vision-reverses-decision-gay-same-sex-marriage.html
  • Check out this short article and two-minute video from Matt Chandler on how to fill your life with joy:http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/how-to-fill-your-life-with-joy
  • Tim Keller’s next book will be Prayer: The Essential Guide, which will be released November 4.Prayer by Tim Keller
  • And speaking of Tim Keller, he is the series editor of the new Cultural Renewal series. An upcoming book of interest is The Stories We Tell: How TV and Movies Long for and Echo the Truth. Author Mike Cosper shows how modern entertainment reveals humanity’s universal longing for redemption as he explores a variety of genres, influential films, and shows, ultimately teaching us how to engage with and evaluate what we watch. The book releases August 31.
  • The Northampton Press, the ministry of our friend Dr. Don Kistler, is making available a collection of sermons by the great Charles Spurgeon in e-book format. These sermons are all from the Song of Solomon, and are titled “The Fairest of Ten Thousand.” For the time being it is only available as an e-book. It is available now on Amazon and soon on Barnes and Noble and Kobo.

            LIGONIER MINISTRIES –

 

Left to themselves, no one will ever choose Christ.—RC Sproul

If the cross is not foolishness to the lost world then we have misrepresented the cross. —Steven Lawson