Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

hits-deep-liveHits Deep Live – Toby Mac
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Eight years after his Grammy winning live album Alive and Transported, Toby Mac returns with another high energy live album Hits Deep Live recorded at the CenturyLink Center in Bossier City, Louisiana. The 16 songs (64 minutes of music), are pulled primarily from his last two albums 2015’s This is Not a Test (9 songs), and 2012’s Eye on It (4 songs). There are also 2 songs from 2010’s Tonight and one song from 2007’s Portable Sounds.

Having seen Toby play many of these songs live, I’m convinced that his music is best experienced live in concert, and the sound quality here is excellent. He is backed by his Diverse City band and joined by several special guests – Colton Dixon, Britt Nicole and Hollyn. For “Love Feels Like”, former D.C. Talk bandmates Michael Tait and Kevin Max are not present, but their voices from the recording of the song are included, giving the feel of a live reunion.

With Hits Deep Live you get excellent songs performed well in a live setting, which adds to the energy. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I always thought that “Feel It” would sound great live and it doesn’t disappoint here.

This will be appreciated by Toby Mac fans and would also serve as a good introduction to the artist for those wanting to check out his music.

trip-leeThe Waiting Room – Trip Lee
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This 10-song mixtape is the multi-gifted (musician, author, pastor) Trip Lee’s follow-up to 2014’s excellent Rise, and it gives us some new music until his next full-length studio album, which he has said will be coming soon. The mixtape features excellent writing and musicianship, weighty topics, and some familiar friends (GAWVI, Tedashii, Alex Medina, etc.).

As far as the title, Lee has said that he wanted to give us music, a soundtrack that feels like the world we live in. One of the themes that kept coming up for him was how much waiting we have to do in this life. Themes of waiting, longing for God to heal him, what’s it’s like to be a Black man at this time in our country, and longing for Heaven come through in these ten excellent songs.

Below are a few comments about each of the new songs:

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Prepare Your Hearts for Easter

Easter-Sunrise2As we remember our Lord’s crucifixion and approach the celebration of the resurrection of our Lord, I wanted to share these helpful resources to prepare our hearts.

1. Easter is Coming Soon. Tony Reinke shares this short book you can download here Easter Changes Everything: A Theological Devotional.

2. Download the new FREE book of Holy Week devotions from John Piper and ten contributors: Your Sorrow Will Turn to Joy ~ Morning & Evening Meditations for Holy Week.

3. Why a Statement on Christ Matters Now: The Ligonier Statement on Christology. Stephen Nichols writes “In times of confusion, we need clarity and conviction. To that end, Ligonier has released The Word Made Flesh: The Ligonier Statement on Christology.”   

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Music Reviews and News

Concert Review:  U2 iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE Tour at the United Center in Chicago – June 25, 2015

U2The first U2 album I bought was 1983’s War. I was a relatively new Christian at the time and had read about this mainstream band in Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) magazine in which some of the members were Christians. (Note: Bono mentioned in 2005’s Bono in Conversation with Michka Assayas that all were now believers, with bassist Adam Clayton being the last to come to faith). Among the songs on War was “40”, which contains the words of Psalm 40, and is a song that the band has closed their shows with often over the years. I’ve been a fan of U2 ever since, especially enjoying the spiritual aspects of their music.

Thursday’s concert at Chicago’s United Center was the second of five at the venue on their iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE Tour, featuring seven songs from their latest album Songs of Innocence, which Rolling Stone magazine named as the top album of 2014. The album, their first since 2009’s No Line on the Horizon, was also my top album of 2014, narrowly edging out Lecrae’s excellent Anomaly. This was the seventh time I’ve seen my favorite band in concert and the first in an arena setting since the 2005 Vertigo tour, with outdoor stadium shows at Chicago’s Soldier Field and St. Louis’ Busch Stadium since that time.

U2 often does unique things with their stage. This time, the stage had two large locations at each end of the arena, with a long walkway across the United Center floor connecting them, where just a few nights before the Chicago Blackhawks had won the Stanley Cup Championship. Our seats were supposed to be in the lower section at the end of the main stage. Due to a mix-up (either the wrong floor map was posted when we purchased tickets through the band’s fan club, or the stage was flipped) our seats were actually behind the stage. Those sitting around us were all very disappointed with this, but as it turned out there were some benefits to sitting only about 25 feet from drummer Larry Mullen. It was amazing to watch him working (behind the scenes) throughout the show. The close proximity to the band was a stark contrast to my last U2 concert, when we were more than three hundred feet away from the U2 360 stage placed in center field at Busch Stadium.

The two and a half hour concert started with Bono in his trademark black leather jacket and sunglasses appearing alone on the far end of the arena. As he walked toward the main stage he began singing “Oh, Oh, Oh…” from “The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)” as the rest of the band (Edge, guitar and keyboards; Adam Clayton, bass; and Larry Mullen) took their places on stage. The concert did not include an opening act and had only a short intermission of Johnny Cash singing “The Wanderer” from Zooropa on the video screen; it featured twenty four songs, including three during the encore. Here is the complete setlist, which changes a bit each night as the band plays multiple dates in each city on the tour.

Although the concert featured seven songs from Songs of Innocence – which sounded even better in concert than on the too perfectly produced album – the band did a nice job of playing songs from throughout their thirty-five year career. Here are the albums that the songs originally appeared on:

Boy (1980) – Out of Control, I Will Follow

War (1983) – Sunday Bloody Sunday

Unforgettable Fire (1984) – Pride (In the Name of Love), Bad

The Joshua Tree (1987) – With or Without You, Bullet the Blue Sky, Where the Streets Have No Name

Rattle and Hum (1988) – Angel of Harlem

Achtung Baby (1991) – Even Better Than the Real Thing, One, Until the End of the World, Mysterious Ways

All That You Can’t Leave Behind (2000) – Beautiful Day

How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb (2004) – Vertigo, City of Blinding Lights

No Line on the Horizon (2009) – Moment of Surrender (portions performed before and after “Bad”).

Invisible 2014 single (not available on an album)

Songs of Innocence (2014) – The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone); Iris (Hold Me Close), Cedarwood Road, Song for Someone, Raised by Wolves, Every Breaking Wave, Volcano

The band’s main stage was directly in front of us at one end of the United Center. A long catwalk/walkway with a huge see-through video screen above it, added much to the experience, but also created some challenges as only those on the sides of the arena could fully see the band when they were inside the screen. That’s right, the band would enter the screen and be part of the video experience. The screen would move up and down throughout the concert. However, when it was down, it made it difficult for people seated at the ends of the arena to see the band.

The band also set up at the far end of the arena for a few songs. By moving around and playing at a number of different places on their stage they added variety and gave everyone unique views of the band.

The show featured a few themes. The first half of the show featured many of the new songs from Songs of Innocence, so growing up was a theme – much as it was with Lecrae on his recent Anomaly tour – as Bono sang about his mother Iris (“Iris (Hold Me Close)” and his neighborhood growing up “Cedarwood Road”. “Sunday Bloody Sunday” with Larry playing a sobering snare drum effectively led into “Raised by Wolves”. Later, Bono would say that after grief comes anger as he led the band into “Volcano”. With songs like “Bullet the Blue Sky” and “Pride (In the Name of Love)” there were references to “I can’t breathe”, Ferguson, MO and Charleston SC. Later, the theme of surrender came up with parts of “Moment of Surrender” sung before and after “Bad”.

A few other thoughts:

  • The couple in front of us were from nearby (to Chicago) Grayslake, Illinois. This was her thirteenth U2 concert. When Bono introduced their second song “Out of Control” as their first single, she was completely overcome emotionally, with tears streaming down her face during the entire song. I’ll never forget how the song impacted her.
  • “Every Breaking Wave” is my favorite song on the new album. I actually prefer the alternate version released on the deluxe edition, so Bono performing it with only Edge on piano at the far end of the stage was a highlight.
  • Bono pulled a young woman from Costa Rica out of the crowd to help him film “Mysterious Ways” and “Angel of Harlem” around the world as Twitter comments from literally around the world were projected up on the large video screens above us.
  • My favorite song was “Pride (In the Name of Love)”, which was followed by “Beautiful Day”. The energy in the building during those two songs was incredible.

Though Bono seemed less energetic than past tours (could be due to his recent bike accident, or what the Chicago Tribune referred to as his bout with “nagging bronchitis”), it would not have been noticeable to those who hadn’t seen him on previous tours when he would sprint around the stage.

Thirty-five years after their first album U2 is still relevant and going strong. Incredibly there have been no band member changes during that time. I hope to see them on the next leg of the tour with songs from the rumored Songs of Experience album.

 Song of the Week

Jubilee by Michael Card

Michael’s Card’s ministry (music, books, teaching) has had a profound impact on my life for thirty years. This is one of my favorite songs of his. I particularly enjoy the line:

To be so completely guilty, given over to despair
To look into your Judge’s face and see a Savior there.

Here are the lyrics to the song:
The word provided for a time for the slaves to be set free
For the debts to all be cancelled so His chosen one could see
His deep desire was for forgiveness
He longed to see their liberty
And His yearning was embodied in the year of Jubilee

(Chorus)
Jubilee, Jubilee
Jesus is that Jubilee
Debts forgiven, slaves set free
Jesus is our Jubilee

At the Lord’s appointed time His deep desire to give a man
The heart of all true jubilation and with joy we understand
In His voice we hear a trumpet sound that tells us we are free
He is the incarnation of the year of Jubilee

(Chorus)
Jubilee, Jubilee
Jesus is that Jubilee
Debts forgiven, slaves set free
Jesus is our Jubilee

To be so completely guilty, given over to despair
To look into your Judge’s face and see a Savior there.

Watch Michael perform this wonderful song in concert here.

musicnewsMusic News

  • Angels of Fenway. Watch James Taylor perform this song (about his Red Sox defeating my Cardinals in the 2004 World Series) from his excellent new album Before the World on Late Night with Seth Myers.
  • Charleston Shooting Comes From Deeply Rooted Racism & Injustice. Lecrae writes “We don’t need a cliché and a proof-text for every social issue. We need hands and feet in the cities, institutions, and infrastructures. The same gospel that frees the soul, frees us to live selflessly toward others with genuine compassion.”

4th-Of-July


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Coram Deo ~ Living Life Before the Face of God 7.23.2014

~ UPDATED PAGES ON THE BLOG ~

INTEGRATING FAITH AND WORK:  Connecting Sunday to Monday

Book Reviews ~

Movie Reviews ~ Ragamuffin

Music Review ~ John: A Misunderstood Messiah by Michael Card

Concert Review ~ Chris Tomlin and Brandon Heath at the US Cellular Coliseum July 19

Experiencing God at Spoon River Pregnancy Resource Center

by Teri Williams, Director

Having been part of a Pregnancy Center ministry for many years, I have listened to many in leadership describe incidents of “God is working in our midst”, “God has provided in an amazing way just what we needed”. Yes, it was incredible to hear about, but it is even more amazing to watch! Genesis 23:16 says, “Surely the Lord is in this place…” The evidence being in the fruit only He can bear. The following examples are just a glimpse;

  1. We have a new volunteer, Cindy Brown. She is an advocate at WPC in Peoria that I have known for a long time. She called me one day and said,” Teri, the Lord has impressed upon me that you could use some help!” Amazing.
  2. Being asked to pray by a client who has said multiple times,” I don’t believe in God”.
  3. STUCK, our new Bible study curriculum has been so well received; clients are asking to view more of it!
  4. We have 2 churches who have stepped up to say; we will provide brand new cribs for women who earn them through the EWYL (Earn While You Learn) program. Word is getting out into the community about this as well!
  5. Free advertising that is bringing in new clients!
  6. One client who accepted Christ this spring!
  7. New clients, new babies, sonogram appointments and even phone calls from people considering abortion!

Yes, it is exciting. If you would like to partner with us in this ministry, please contact:

Teri Williams, Director
Spoon River Pregnancy Resource Center (309-647-4102)
1055 W. Locust
Canton, IL 61520
http://www.srpregnancycenter.com/
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Spoon-River-Pregnancy-Resource-Center/269539979780085

 

5 loveThe 5 Love Languages Book Club Week Four    

Last week Tammy and I completed week four of our summer book club – Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to a Love that Lasts. We drove out to Evergreen Lake and enjoyed the beauty (and even ran into some great friends bringing their pontoon boat in!), while covering the third language “Receiving Gifts” and the questions from the Study Guide (available for download at this link – http://www.5lovelanguages.com/resource/the-5-love-languages/. Here are a few passages we highlighted:

  • I examined the cultural patterns surrounding love and marriage and found that in every culture I studied, gift giving was a part of the love-marriage process.
  • A gift is something you can hold in your hand and say, “Look, he was thinking of me,” or “She remembered me.” You must be thinking of someone to give him a gift. The gift itself is a symbol of that thought. It doesn’t matter whether it costs money. What is important is that you thought of him. And it is not the thought implanted only in the mind that counts, but the thought expressed in actually securing the gift and giving it as the expression of love.
  • Gifts are visual symbols of love.
  • If receiving gifts is my primary love language, I will place great value on the ring you have given me and I will wear it with great pride. I will also be greatly moved emotionally by other gifts that you give through the years. I will see them as expressions of love. Without gifts as visual symbols, I may question your love.
  • If your spouse’s primary love language is receiving gifts, you can become a proficient gift giver. In fact, it is one of the easiest love languages to learn.
  • Make a list of all the gifts your spouse has expressed excitement about receiving through the years. The list will give you an idea of the kind of gifts your spouse would enjoy receiving.
  • If receiving gifts is his/her primary love language, almost anything you give will be received as an expression of love.
  • If you are a spender, you will have little difficulty purchasing gifts for your spouse; but if you are a saver, you will experience emotional resistance to the idea of spending money as an expression of love.
  • There is an intangible gift that sometimes speaks more loudly than a gift that can be held in one’s hand. I call it the gift of self or the gift of presence. Being there when your spouse needs you speaks loudly to the one whose primary love language is receiving gifts.
  • Physical presence in the time of crisis is the most powerful gift you can give if your spouse’s primary love language is receiving gifts. Your body becomes the symbol of your love. Remove the symbol, and the sense of love evaporates.
  • If the physical presence of your spouse is important to you, I urge you to verbalize that to your spouse. Don’t expect him to read your mind.
  • At the heart of love is the spirit of giving.

Each chapter ends with a helpful discussion question.

Tammy added an excellent insight about the book. She said that this would be more of a Christian book if it pointed to God at the end of each chapter, just like a Christ-centered sermon does. We should love others as God loves: He is the giver of great gifts, He made us to spend quality time with Him…What about Acts of Service (giving His only Beloved Son to reconcile us to Himself), Words of Affirmation (I Peter 2:9), and Affection (Psalm 91:4)? Just think about it; Instead of loving others to fill their needs you can then love others sacrificially and without expectation of being loved in return.

Next week we will cover the fourth love language “Acts of Service”. Won’t you join us?I Peter 2.9

~ THIS AND THAT ~

  • My good friend Dustin Webb just started a new tree trimming and removal business. The name is….get this….Kick Ash. I love it! The story goes that Dustin needed to have an ash tree removed and was stunned at the cost and knew he could do it less expensively and fulfill one of his passions – exercise and physical fitness. I’m amazed at how many trees I’ve seen this year that have either died or are under stress. If you have a need, send Dustin an email at kickashtreeservice@gmail.com or call him at 309-287-1147.
  • The Passion 2015 conference has announced their speakers for their event in Atlanta January 2-4. The event will also be held in Houston.

Passion 2015

TO MAKE YOU SMILE:

INFORMATIVE ARTICLES:

DESIRING GOD – JOHN PIPER:

LIGONIER MINISTRIES – R.C. SPROUL:

  • Ligonier Ministries continues work on the extensive update of The Reformation Study Bible (RSB). The updated RSB will be released in the English Standard Version (ESV) before spring, 2015 and in the New King James Version (NKJV) next fall.
  • R.C. Sproul has been working with an award-winning composer to produce a work of new hymns. Recordings are taking place at this time. The new hymns will be debut in a concert at Saint Andrew’s Chapel, where Sproul is Co-Pastor on February 18, 2015, just preceding the 2015 Ligonier Ministries National Conference.

BOOKS:

MOVIES AND MUSIC:

  • Ron Howard has announced that he will be filming a documentary on the Beatles as a live act. He will be interviewing Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison for the project. Read more here: http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/6157669/ron-howard-to-direct-beatles-documentary
  • One of my favorite singer/songwriters (and now authors) Ashley Cleveland reports that Bart Peters, a film maker in Los Angeles and the head of original content for Direct TV is making a documentary on Ashley based on her excellent book Little Black Sheep. Peters has brought Morgan Neville, who won an Oscar this year for his documentary: “Twenty Feet From Stardom,” on board as co-producer. Filming has already begun and there is a loose plan to finish by the end of the year.
  • Big Daddy Weave will be in concert at Lincoln Christian University on August 16. One of the organizations that will benefit from the proceeds is the local Immanuel Health Center. To find out more, go to: http://fantheflamechristianconcerts.org/
  • Chris Tomlin will release his new album Love Ran Red this fall. We can expect it to include his new single “Waterfall” and “At the Cross (Love Ran Red)”, my favorite song of 2014 thus far. Here are the lyrics to “At the Cross”, which I believe has the potential to have the impact of Matt Redman’s “10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)”:

There’s a place where mercy reigns and never dies
There’s a place where streams of grace flow deep and wide
Where all the love I’ve ever found
Comes like a flood
Comes flowing down

[Chorus]
At the cross
At the cross
I surrender my life
I’m in awe of You
I’m in awe of You
Where Your love ran red
And my sin washed white
I owe all to You
I owe all to You Jesus

There’s a place where sin and shame are powerless
Where my heart has peace with God and forgiveness
Where all the love I’ve ever found
Comes like a flood
Comes flowing down

[Chorus]

[Bridge]
Here my hope is found
Here on holy ground
Here I bow down
Here arms open wide
Here You save my life
Here I bow down
Here I bow down

[Chorus]

PROBING QUESTIONS:

  Quotable:  You don’t give God authority over your life. He has it, totally. – John Piper

 R. C. Sproul quote


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6.24.2014

~ THIS AND THAT ~

IN THE NEWS:

BOOKS:

MUSIC:

  • NEEDTOBREATHE recently released the official video for “Multiplied”, one of my favorite songs off of their chart-topping album Rivers in the Wasteland. It was recently filmed in Nashville. You can watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGF-MGGLpB0&feature=youtu.be&eml=2014June13/1630811/6010042
  • Recently, Tammy and our brother in law Al were talking about some of the all-time great albums. Some that came up were Rumours by Fleetwood Mac, the debut album by Boston, Frampton Comes Alive by Peter Frampton, Thriller and Off the Wall by Michael Jackson. I’ll add Abbey Road and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band from the Beatles, Born to Run from Bruce Springsteen and Tapestry from Carole King. What about 21 from Adele? What albums would you add to this list? Let us know.
  • U2 leader Bono was given a humanitarian award at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. The festival presented the rock star with its inaugural Cannes LionHeart award, which recognizes a person or organization “that, through innovative use of commercial brand power, has made a significant and positive difference to people or the planet.” Read more here: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/06/21/u2-bono-cannes-lions/11209463/
  • Amy Grant’s 1991 hit “Baby, Baby” has been amped up and reimagined for the singer’s first-ever album of remixes. “In Motion: The Remixes” will be released August 19 on Sparrow Records, and is slated to include other Grant pop classics like “That’s What Love Is For” and “Every Heartbeat.” Ready about the new album and listen to the remix of “Baby Baby” (which is actually pretty good), here.Paul Mc

GET INFORMED:

Desiring God –                          

  • The 2014 Desiring God National Conference will be held September 26–28 in Minneapolis. It will be the twelfth and final fall conference as we have known them. Desiring God is calling it Look at the Book: Reading the Bible for Yourself. John Piper will do five sessions, modeling Look at the Book from Romans 8 and unfolding the biblical foundations and fruit of seeing the Bible in this way. Jerry Bridges, Nancy Guthrie, Ben Stuart, and others have agreed to come and speak on topics related to personal Bible reading. Registration is only $150 if you register by July 25. Read more here and watch the trailer for the conference here: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/no-book-like-the-bible
  • Here’s a helpful article on evangelism from Desiring God titled “Are You Too Christian for Non-Christians?” Read it here: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/are-you-too-christian-for-non-christians
  • Jon Bloom, in his article “Jesus Wants You to be You”, writes: “God had you specifically in mind when he created you and called you to follow him. You are custom-designed for your calling. But when you face the difficulty of your calling, you may look at others and be tempted to wonder why they don’t seem to bear the same burdens you do”. Read the entire article here: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/jesus-wants-you-to-be-you
  • In Jon Bloom’s article “This May Push You Over the Edge”http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/this-may-push-you-over-the-edge, he references John Piper’s sermon on suffering “Live to Die,” with his primary text being Colossians 1:24. Bloom encourages us to listen to the message, not just to read the transcript. He says that it will shake us, that it gets to the core what it means to live as a Christian in this age. It is not a comfortable message.
  • John Piper continues looking at the ten most highlighted passages – this time Philippians 4:13 – in this article entitled “The Secret in Every Circumstance”. Read the article and watch the 3-minute video here: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/the-secret-in-every-circumstance

Ligonier Ministries –

Other –

 5 loveThe 5 Love Languages Book Club Week One

Tammy and I started our summer book club of Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to a Love that Lasts last week. We covered the introductory chapters. Here are a few passages we highlighted:

  • With all the help available from media experts, why is it that so few couples seem to have found the secret to keeping love alive after the wedding?
  • The problem is that we have overlooked one fundamental truth: People speak different love languages.
  • We must be willing to learn our spouse’s primary love language if we are to be effective communicators of love.
  • My conclusion after thirty years of marriage counseling is that there are five emotional love languages—five ways that people speak and understand emotional love.
  • In the field of linguistics a language may have numerous dialects or variations. Similarly, within the five basic emotional love languages, there are many dialects.
  • The important thing is to speak the love language of your spouse.
  • Seldom do a husband and wife have the same primary emotional love language. We tend to speak our primary love language, and we become confused when our spouse does not understand what we are communicating.
  • Among those emotional needs, none is more basic than the need for love and affection, the need to sense that he or she belongs and is wanted.
  • We needed love before we “fell in love,” and we will need it as long as we live.
  • The need to feel loved by one’s spouse is at the heart of marital desires.
  • I am convinced that keeping the emotional love tank full is as important to a marriage as maintaining the proper oil level is to an automobile.
  • WARNING: Understanding the five love languages and learning to speak the primary love language of your spouse may radically affect his or her behavior. People behave differently when their emotional love tanks are full.
  • We have been led to believe that if we are really in love, it will last forever. Unfortunately, the eternality of the in-love experience is fiction, not fact.
  • After studying scores of couples, she concluded that the average life span of a romantic obsession is two years.
  • Once the experience of falling in love has run its natural course (remember, the average in-love experience lasts two years), we will return to the world of reality and begin to assert ourselves.
  • Some couples believe that the end of the in-love experience means they have only two options: resign themselves to a life of misery with their spouse, or jump ship and try again. Our generation has opted for the latter, whereas an earlier generation often chose the former.
  • Our most basic emotional need is not to fall in love but to be genuinely loved by another, to know a love that grows out of reason and choice, not instinct.
  • That kind of love requires effort and discipline. It is the choice to expend energy in an effort to benefit the other person, knowing that if his or her life is enriched by your effort, you too will find a sense of satisfaction—the satisfaction of having genuinely loved another. It does not require the euphoria of the in-love experience. In fact, true love cannot begin until the in-love experience has run its course.
  • Love is the attitude that says, “I am married to you, and I choose to look out for your interests.”
  • How do we meet each other’s deep, emotional need to feel loved? If we can learn that and choose to do it, then the love we share will be exciting beyond anything we ever felt when we were infatuated.

Each chapter ends with a helpful discussion question.

Next week we will cover the first love language Words of Affirmation. Won’t you join us?

 Integrating Faith and Work

  • Check out this article “God’s Will and Your Job”, from R.C. Sproul: http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/gods-will-and-your-job/
  • Being a leader is about creating a way for people to contribute in order to make something extraordinary happen. Nancy Ortberg discusses two simple ways in which leaders can do this to humanize work. First, she explores the ways God reminds us to look in small places for great things. Second, she tackles the importance of workplace conflict and the need for giving feedback to those we respect. Check out her talk titled “Humanizing Work Through Leadership” here: http://www.faithandwork.com/humanizing-work-through-leadership/

~ UPDATED PAGES ON THE BLOG ~

Book Reviews:

Movie Reviews:

  • Jersey Boys
  • Lone Survivor

Quotable

We can put it this way–the man who has faith is the man who is no longer looking at himself and no longer looking to himself. He no longer looks at anything he once was. He does not look at what he is now. He does not even look at what he hopes to be as the result of his own efforts. He looks entirely to the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished work, and rests on that alone. He stops saying, ‘Ah yes, I used to commit terrible sins but now I have done this and that.’ If he goes on saying that, he has not got faith. Faith speaks in an entirely different manner and makes a man say, ‘Yes I have sinned grievously, I have lived a life of sin, yet I know that I am a child of God because I am not resting on any righteousness of my own; my righteousness is in Jesus Christ and God has put that to my account.’

-D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (listen to 1,600 sermons from Lloyd-Jones at http://www.mljtrust.org/)

 

 


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

~ THIS AND THAT ~

  • 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 www.ligonier.org (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: http://www.ligonier.org/blog/youth-driven-culture/
  • 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: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/sinner-come-home
  • John Piper recommends a new book on the doctrine of justification, and specifically on the New Perspective of Paul. Read more here: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/an-excellent-new-book-on-justification
  • Check out this article “Jesus is Better than Porn” about Jimmy Needham’s addiction to porn and hear a song he wrote about it: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/jesus-is-better-than-porn
  • Johnathan Parnell has a thought-provoking article on the Desiring God site about why homosexuality is not like other sins. Read it here: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/why-homosexuality-is-not-like-other-sins
  • 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: http://www.albertmohler.com/2014/04/22/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 http://www.gettymusic.com/
  • 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.”

~ UPDATED PAGES ON THE BLOG ~

NEW IN THE LEADERSHIP LIBRARY:

  • 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.

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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.

(Chorus)
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:  https://mcardbiblicalimaginationnormalil.shutterfly.com/4

 

 QUOTES:

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

 

~ 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.

MC_BI_Poster_NormalIL-page-001

 

~ 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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