Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

Leave a comment

Summer Break is Over for Bill

I am down to just three more classes to complete my Master’s degree (MATS – Masters of Arts in Theological Studies) at Covenant Theological Seminary ( The past six Januarys I’ve attended week long classes on campus, always a wonderful experience. I’ve had the opportunity to study under some wonderful teachers – Greg Perry, Mary Beth McGreevy, Carl Trueman, Robert Yarbrough and Scotty Smith (twice). Soon, I’ll be in St. Louis for my last “on campus” class – “Calling, Vocation and Work”, taught by Michael Williams and Bradley Matthews. I was pleased to hear that my lead pastor’s daughter-in-law, as well as a friend from Atlanta that I sat next to in last January’s class with Scotty Smith will be in the class as well. I look forward to connecting with both of them.

I love St. Louis, and have loved it since visiting as a kid with my family – going to Cardinal games (I’ve attended games at all three Busch Stadiums), and going to Six Flags. While I won’t catch any Cardinal games during class week, we do have several more games on the calendar this season, plus the post-season. Cardinal fans just expect that there will be post-season baseball each season. (smile).

Travelling to and from St. Louis and during the week I plan to listen to Michael Card’s 2011 studies on the Gospel of Matthew that he led at Christ Community Church in Franklin, Tennessee. These are wonderful studies and will give you an idea of what to expect when Michael brings the Biblical Imagination Conference and Concert on Matthew to Christ Church and East White Oak Bible Church in April, 2014.

Why not listen to these studies with me at:
Lord willing, I will complete my seminary studies in May, 2014. At that time, I’ll be within five years of my planned retirement. Tammy, too, is transitioning in September, after more than eighteen years as our church treasurer. When you get to new seasons of life like these, you wonder “What does the Lord have next for us?” In God’s providence, this class on calling is coming at the perfect time!
Tammy and I have been publishing a newsletter for our church since September 1998, and plan to continue to do so for a few more months. We are excited to introduce this recently launched blog that you are reading now, which will provide more timely reviews as well as some new content, as well as articles and poetry from others, such as Tammy’s sister Teri (check out her first two posts) and nephew Mark, who recently received his PhD. To subscribe to receive updates at, just enter your email address under FOLLOW BLOG VIA EMAIL (on the right side of this page).


Colton Dixon

Music Review
A Messenger – Colton Dixon
The debut album from the 21 year old former American Idol contestant Colton Dixon is a solid, but not great debut. It has sold very well, but there isn’t anything new or innovating here that we haven’t heard before. The lyrics are solid, but again similar to others we might hear on Christian radio. He contributed to the writing of all songs, except the closing ballad “Let Them See You”.

The album’s title is inspired by John 13:16:

Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.

In addition, previously, Dixon was the lead singer of the rock band the Messengers.

Dixon was introduced in season ten of American Idol, but failed to make it to the live rounds. He made it to the top seven in season eleven. We recently saw him in concert on Third Day’s Miracle tour. I always find it hard to evaluate an artist in concert – usually an opening act – if I’m not familiar with their music. That was the case with Dixon. He is a charismatic performer, with Billy Idol-like hair, and had an enthusiastic following – especially from the young females in the crowd – at the US Cellular Coliseum back in May.

The album is well produced and features Dixon’s powerful voice. With the exception of two ballads – “I Rise” and “Let Them See You” (co-written with Third Day’s keyboardist Scotty Wilbanks) – this is a modern pop-rock album, piano driven music, with loud guitars, bass and drums. It’s designed to play loud. Unfortunately, many of the songs tend to sound similar. Dixon could have offered more of a variety or diversity of songs in this debut. He reportedly had fifty songs written for the album so perhaps we’ll see more of a variety on future releases.

My favorite song is Dixon’s hit single “You Are”, featuring lyrics:

You are the song
You are the song I’m singing
You are the air
You are the air I breathe in
You are the hope
You are the hope I’m needing

Dixon performed “Love Has Come for Me” on American Idol’s season twelve.

Dixon should have a very bright future ahead. I enjoyed his debut and will look forward to hearing what he has next.

Leave a comment

What a banner day today!

High of 75 degrees today, the sun is shining…God is good.
Be sure to read the review of Joni & Ken’s book, and the two new music reviews of Jesus, Firm Foundation and The David Crowder Band. And don’t miss the new page on Michael Card’s Biblical Imagination Conference. Yesterday I met with a book club at work and wanted to share a bit with you (see below). Also wanted to share some words of wisdom from Teri. Enjoy the day!

Blog entry stardate 7/23/2013 ~ Teri Williams

As Christians we are aliens in this world but we have been given a wonderful instruction book for how to survive life on earth and in many ways actually thrive. So ..why can’t we get this whole relationship thing right? Christians divorce at the same rate as non-Christians, young Christians today don’t believe in waiting for marriage. God didn’t really mean that. That was then—this is now. Playing house by living together prior to marriage is acceptable—I just don’t want to tell my parents. Does monogamy mean being faithful to one person at a time or to one person for life? How did we get so far off track? We look just like everybody else! Why?

At first I thought I would have my second blog entry be a discussion on forgiveness. Then I thought how about learning to fight fair. Those interestingly enough both play into the success or failure of marriage relationships today. So I guess more on those at a later date.

Introducing the idea of healthy dating relationships to your preteens and teens as well as those twenty and thirty something’s who are still single is a parents’ job. It is not a one-time-glad-that’s-over conversation. It is ongoing. No they don’t want to hear it from parents and yet they long to have someone be brave enough and care enough to be honest. Parents spend so much time setting expectations and giving their opinions on so many topics every day, why would this be an area of silence? The next question then is; what standards are set for parental behavior? What do they see mom and dad modeling? If a parent is dating and having sleepovers, what message is being communicated to children watching very closely? Sex has the power to create life, change life and end life. Take that apart and think about it for a few minutes. What then is the real impact on us and on life; on future decision making ability? We are the only creatures on earth who can physically engage in sexual intimacy face to face. It was created by God to be a private celebration between two people who have spent time investing and building a great relationship, then committing to each other for life thru marriage. How has it become casual and recreational? Is this another example of drive up, drive thru, instant gratification, I can’t wait philosophy of life? Abstinence is possible. It’s a choice. It’s also a work of the Holy Spirit in a persons life–both young and old. Are you walking the talk in this area of your life or do you look just like everyone else?

Week 5: The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership
I often participate in book clubs discussing leadership or personal development books. The current book club I’m in is reading and discussing with a few emerging leaders is John Maxwell’s classic book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. This is a great book that I’ve read and discussed with others several times over the past ten years. This week our group read and discussed Laws 9 and 10. Here are a few takeaways I had from these two laws:
Law 9 – The Law of Magnetism: Who You Are Is Who You Attract
• Maxwell starts off by asking the reader to make a list of the qualities they would like in the people on their team.
• He indicates that who you attract is not determined by what you want, but by who you are.
• He looks at a number of characteristics, indicating that if you have recruited and hired a staff, you will probably find that you and people who follow you share common ground in several of these key areas. A few that resonated with me were:
o Attitude – Maxwell writes that he has rarely seen positive and negative people attracted to one another. Attitude is one of the most contagious qualities a human being possesses.
o Background – People attract – and are attracted to – others of similar background.
o Values – People are attracted to leaders whose values are similar to their own. Whatever characteristics you possess is what you will likely find in the people who follow you.
o Giftedness – People do not go out looking for mediocre leaders to follow. People are attracted to talent and excellence, especially in their area of giftedness. They are most likely to follow someone who possesses their kind of talent.
o Leadership ability – The leaders you attract will be similar in style and ability to you.
• Work at recruiting people who are different from you to staff your weaknesses. If you don’t, important organizational tasks are likely to be overlooked, and the organization will suffer as a result.

Law 10 – The Law of Connection: Leaders Touch a Heart Before They Ask for a Hand
• Maxwell begins this chapter with two examples from the presidency of George W. Bush – one in which he made a connection (9/11) and one in which he didn’t (Hurricane Katrina).
• For leaders to be effective, they need to connect with people. You first have to touch people’s hearts before you can ask them for a hand. That is the Law of Connection.
• People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care – one of Maxwell’s famous quotes.
• One key to connecting with others is recognizing that even in a group you have to relate to people as individuals.
• Authentic leaders connect. Bill Walsh states “Nothing is more effective than sincere accurate praise, and nothing is more lame than a cookie-cutter compliment.”
• Perhaps the most important thing you can do as a leader and communicator is to practice what you preach.
• Focus on others, not yourself. That is the number one problem of inexperienced speakers and ineffective leaders. You will always connect faster when your focus is not on yourself.
• People’s opinion of us has less to do with what they see in us than it does with what we can help them see in themselves.
• When you give people hope, you give them a future.
• Successful leaders take the first step with others and then make the effort to continue building relationships. That’s not always easy, but it’s important to the success of the organization.
• If you want someone on your side, don’t try to convince them – connect with them.
• Never underestimate the power of making connections and building relationships with people before asking them to follow you.
• As a leader, find times to make yourself available to people. Learn their names. Tell them how much you appreciate them. And most important, listen.
• Leaders who relate to their people and really connect with them are leaders that people will follow to the ends of the earth.
All of the laws feature a helpful “Applying” section at the end of the chapter on that particular law. Plan on taking the time to use the suggestions in this section to go deeper with these two laws.
Next time we’ll look at Laws 11 and 12.

Leave a comment

Need a good recommendation?

Are you looking for a good book or movie? Check out our reviews.
I went to two concerts recently; both legends, but one a hit and one a miss.
Check it out on the Concert Reviews page.

May God bless you and yours this summer.

Leave a comment

Happy, Happy, Happy Friday!

Don’t miss all of our updated pages, including new book reviews and movie reviews and ‘keep posted’ – there will soon be concert reviews of two legends, Bob Dylan and Paul McCartney.

Plus…. Free Stuff!

Christian Audio offers a free audio book each month. On the first day of the month the book will be revealed at During the month of July, the free audio book is Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry.
jaber crow