Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

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Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God by Timothy Keller. Penguin Books. 332 pages. 2014.

This is perhaps the best book on prayer that I’ve read, and I’ve read several. I’ve already read and discussed it with others on two occasions. Our discussions would move slowly, as there is so much rich material on prayer in the fifteen chapters in this book. This book will challenge you and your prayer life.
Keller writes that prayer is both conversation and encounter with God. He tells us that these two concepts give us definition of prayer and a set of tools for deepening our prayer lives. He tells us that prayer is both awe and intimacy, struggle and reality. These will not happen every time we pray, but each should be a major component of our prayer over the course of our lives.
He writes of wanting a far better personal prayer life. As a result, he began to read widely and experiment in prayer. In his pursuit of a deeper prayer life, he deliberately avoided reading any new books on prayer. Instead, he went back to the historical texts of Christian theology that had formed him and began asking questions about prayer and the experience of God.
In addition, he made four practical changes to his life of private devotion. First, he took several months to go through the Psalms, summarizing each one. The second thing he did was always to put in a time of meditation as a transitional discipline between his Bible reading and his time of prayer. Third, he did all he could to pray morning and evening rather than only in the morning. Fourth, he began praying with greater expectation.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review and a review of Embracing Your Identity in Christ: Renouncing Lies and Foolish Strategies by Robert Davis Smart
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur
I’M CURRENTLY READING…. Continue reading


My Faithful Pastor

I don’t know the average length of time a pastor stays at a church these days. I remember reading David Wells’ excellent 1993 book No Place For Truth: Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology, in which he wrote that it was about three years at that time. I’ve read some statistics indicating that by 2016 the average tenure for a pastor had increased to about six years. What if I were to tell you that my lead pastor has been faithfully serving our church for 25 years? That is almost unheard of these days, and quite a blessing to our church. Just last Sunday our congregation celebrated that milestone, thanking God for His faithfulness and that of His servant Pastor Bob Smart and his wife Karen.
My wife Tammy and I started attending our church in December, 1994, the year after Pastor Smart began serving there. We were a very small church at the time, with about 80 in attendance each Sunday. We met in rental property in a business park that included a rock radio station on the floor above us. In fact, a large boom box that the radio station used at events was parked in the parking lot that we shared. As you can imagine, that probably raised some eyebrows of first time visitors to the church.
At that time, Pastor Smart did it all – from wearing a headset to answer the phone (there was no full-time secretary), to emptying dirty diapers out of the nursery, to preaching on Sunday. There were no associate pastors, just a few faithful elders and deacons to help Pastor Smart lead the church. Over the years our church has seen steady growth, resulting in our move to a beautiful new church building in 1999 and the addition of a few associate pastors to help Pastor Smart lead the church.
Pastor Smart, who has encouraged many to pursue seminary education over the years, continued to grow himself, achieving a PhD. He has authored or edited several books, regularly teaches his Identity in Christ material, has taught pastors internationally and gone on a number of missions’ trips. Through it all, for 25 years, he has remained faithful to the local church.
Day after day, week after week, month after month and year after year he has been faithful. Last Sunday was not only our church celebration, giving God thanks for the Smarts, but it also marked another milestone. Pastor Smart preaches through books of the Bible, first a book in the New Testament, then a book in the Old Testament. Back and forth, preaching through all 66 books of the Bible, until this past Sunday when the last sermon, in the last book of the Bible (Nehemiah) that he was preaching through, was preached.
The calling of a pastor is hard. It is not flashy or glamorous, but ordinary, as Michael Horton has written. There are no established hours, and a pastor is always on call, even on their days off. A pastor rejoices with those who rejoice and weeps with those who weep (Romans 12:15). Pastor Smart has faithfully prayed for his people, studied and preached, taught and counseled. His focus has consistently been on Word and prayer. He has preached the word in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:2) and is worthy of double honor (1 Timothy 5:17).
Pastor Smart is also a very humble man, never wanting the attention on himself, but all glory to be given to his Savior. So that’s how I’ll end, praising God for using His servant for 25 years at our church.

Soli Deo Gloria!

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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

Speaking Updates. Thanks for the words of encouragement about a few faith and work presentations I have coming up. The first will be at the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) General Assembly in Greensboro, North Carolina. I’ll be speaking at 8:00 am on Wednesday, June 14. The title for that presentation is “Helping Our People Connect Their Faith to Their Work and Callings”.  The second will be at 6:15 pm on Thursday, July 6  at the By the Way Conference at the Lexington Community Church. The working title for that presentation is “Disciples at Work”.


  • Working Women are Leaving the Church. Here’s How to Bring Them Back. Diane Paddison writes “It is possible to stem the tide of working women leaving the church. See that working woman, acknowledge her, and provide opportunities for her to connect, learn, and serve. With the church’s help, she can transform her family, her workplace, her church, and her community with the gospel.”
  • Is Homemaking Part of God’s Economy?Anna Arnold writes “So, take heart (John 16:33)! Be encouraged. Just because what you do as a stay-at-home mom doesn’t make the news or get quantified in some tangible way, you have great value to our economy, our society, and, most importantly, to the God who made you.”
  • At-Home Work—Not Just for Women. Courtney Reissig writes “But the work of the home is for everyone. The home isn’t just filled with women or mothers. It’s often filled with children and a husband. Sometimes it’s filled with other family members and houseguests, too.”


  • The Golfer Who Won the 2012 U.S. Open. Sean Martin interviews Webb Simpson, who has won four times on the PGA Tour, including the 2012 U.S. Open, and has ranked as high as No. 5 in the world, about how he integrates his faith and work.
  • Why John Wooden’s Teams Won. John Maxwell writes “Most of you who are reading this are interested in winning and learning how you can get ahead at your own businesses. So let me share with you two things that helped set Coach Wooden apart from other coaches.”
  • The Navy Captain Who Said No to the Dream. Jason Cook interviews Voresa Booker, a retired Navy captain who served our country for more than 30 years, about how she integrates her faith and work.
  • Conversations with Consequences. I was encouraged to hear about Steven Garber, who gave the address at my graduation ceremony in 2014, working with Covenant Theological Seminary on a DMin degree in “faith, vocation and culture”.
  • When Tragedy Touches Every Part of Your Job. Abby Perry interviews Val Anderson, the executive director of His Grace Foundation (HGF), a nonprofit organization that provides physical, emotional, and financial support to patients and families on the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit (BMTU) of Texas Children’s Hospital (TCH), about how she integrates her faith and work.


  • The Value of Work. In this episode of the Unlimited Grace podcast, Bryan Chapell answers questions about how God values our work.
  • Check Your Bias at the Door—Manufacturing Jobs Have Dignity, Too. Anne Bradley writes “We were designed to reflect the creativity of the One who designed and brought us into being. We need to be proactive about affirming the dignity of others in their work, just as we need to possess a balanced, honest understanding of our own value in society and to our God.”
  • Christ-Like Submission at Work. Watch this three and a half minute video clip from J.D. Greear about three things that Christ-like submission at work means.
  • Wanted: A Meaningful Job. Hugh Whelchel writes “Can you see your work through God’s eyes? Do you see how meaningful your job is to God? Embracing his perspective should put the work of every Christian, no matter what it is, at the top of the “most meaningful job” list.”
  • 4 Reasons Your Work Matters Today. Michael Kelley writes “Does our work really matter? And if the answer is “yes,” then are there reasons for that answer that go beyond the scope of a particular vocation? In other words, does our work matter regardless of what our position is?”
  • 3 Transforming Truths About Your Work. Tom Nelson writes “God cares a great deal about your work. How about you? Are you increasingly seeing your work as God sees it? What does faithful stewardship in your vocation look like? Are you being slothful or diligent? Has work become an idol in your life? Or are you seeing your work and workplace as a primary place for your spiritual formation and gospel mission? What steps do you need to take to embrace a more seamless gospel faith that narrows the Sunday-to-Monday gap? Your work really does matter.”

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