Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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Surrounded by Michael W. Smith

Michael W. Smith has been a leader in the Contemporary Christian Music industry since his debut album in 1983, about the entire length of my Christian life. In addition to his pop albums, the talented artist has released several live worship and Christmas albums, along with a few instrumental albums, two albums of hymns, and even wrote music for Steve Taylor’s The Second Chance, a film he starred in. His 2001 album Worship has sold in excess of 2 million copies and the 2002 Worship Again has sold in excess of 1 million copies. He has won three Grammy Awards and an incredible 45 Dove Awards. Now 60 years old, Smith shows he is not slowing down.  Surrounded, his second album to be released this month, and twenty-fifth overall, is a live worship album recorded during an in-the-round performance November 2, 2017 at the Factory in Franklin, Tennessee.
Smith has said that the idea of doing another live worship project has been something he has been thinking about for a while. He feels God calling His Church together, every nation, every tribe, tongue, social class and denomination.
Like his other worship albums, the songs here are a mix of originals and covers. My only critique would have been for Smith to include more originals. If you have enjoyed Smith’s previous worship albums, you’ll enjoy this one as well.

Here are a few thoughts about each song on this excellent album.
Your House – This song is written by Smith. It is an upbeat and joyful song that reminds me of a Chris Tomlin like sound – drums, guitar, piano, backing vocals. It’s an excellent start to the worship experience. Key lyric: We come into Your house with thanksgiving and praise all for Your name.
Light to You – This song is written by Smith. The song starts slowly, picking up triumphantly in the bridge. To the farthest horizon, God is there, He’ll find me. Key lyric: Even the darkness is light to You.
King of My Heart – This song is written by John Mark McMillan and Sarah McMillan, and has been covered by a number of artists such as Bethel Music and Kutless. The song builds powerfully. God is good and He will never let us down.
Reckless Love – This song is written by Cory Asbury, Caleb Culver and Ran Jackson and has been covered by several artists. The song, about the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, begins with piano and then slowly builds, running nearly nine minutes in length.
Here I Bow – This song is written by Jason Ingram, Matt Redman, Jonas Myrin, Brian Johnson and Jenn Johnson. It begins with light guitar and then builds with piano and backing vocals. Key lyric: So here I bow, to lift You high, Jesus, be glorified in all things, for all my life. I am Yours, forever Yours.
Miracles – This song is a cover of a Jesus Culture song, written by Stuart Garrard, Dustin Smith, Joshua Silverberg and Chris Quilala. The song starts slowly and then powerfully builds, running nearly nine minutes in length.  It includes some lyrics sung in Spanish. Key lyric: I believe in You, You’re the God of miracles.     
Do It Again – This is a cover of an Elevation Music song, written by Steven Furtick, Matt Redman, Mack Brown and Chris Brown. The song starts slowly and then builds powerfully in the bridge. God has never failed us. Key lyric: I’ve seen You move, You move the mountains, and I believe, I’ll see You do it again.
Surrounded (Fight My Battles) – This song is written by Elyssa Smith. It is simple lyrically, pretty much repeating the lines “This is how I fight my battles” and “It may look like I’m surrounded but I’m surrounded by You”. It is triumphant song, with the music and backing vocals building powerfully.
Build My Life – This song is written by Pat Barrett, Matt Redman, Brett Younker, Kirby Kaple and Karl Martin and has been recorded by Christy Nockels. It begins with some effective percussion, and includes piano and backing vocals. Jesus is worthy and we live for Him.  Key lyric: I will build my life upon Your love, it is a firm foundation.
Washed Away – This song is written by Smith. This song begins with piano and builds powerfully with backing vocals about the joy that the believer has knowing that their sins washed away by the blood of Jesus. The song incorporates the classic hymn “Nothing But the Blood of Jesus”.
Great Are You Lord – This song was written by Jason Ingram, David Leonard and Leslie Jordan and has been recorded by All Songs and Daughters and others. The song starts with piano and slowly builds. Key lyric: It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise.

Light to You (Reprise) – The album closes with a reprise of the earlier “Light to You”. Key lyric: Even the darkness is light to you.

  • Walking on Water. Watch the lyric video for NEEDTOBREATHE’s excellent song “Walking on Water”.
  • Last Man Standing. Watch this video for Willie Nelson’s new song “Last Man Standing” the title track from his new album, to be released two days before his 85th birthday on April 27.
  • Automatt. Check out some tasty Charlie Peacock jazz, “Automatt” from his new jazz album When Light Flashes Help Is On the Way.
  • What a Friend. Watch the lyric video for Matt Maher’s new single “What a Friend”.

  • Worship is how you live your life and give God credit for His goodness, regardless of where you are or how you feel about your circumstances. Chris Tomlin
  • The greater the storms we face, the louder our songs must be. Matt Redman
  • Love is not a feeling in your chest. It is bending down to wash another’s feet. Andrew Peterson
  • When people say, you know, ‘Good teacher,’ ‘Prophet,’ ‘Really nice guy’… this is not how Jesus thought of Himself. So, you’re left with a challenge in that, which is either Jesus was who he said he was or a complete and utter nut case. You have to make a choice on that. Bono


Ghost by Crowder

This week’s song of the week comes from the new Passion album Whole Heart. The album was recorded live at Passion 2018 in front of 30,000 college students. Passion 2018 was held simultaneously at three separate venues, Philips Arena in Atlanta, Infinite Energy Arena in Duluth, GA, and The Anthem in Washington, DC January 1-3, 2018.  This week we feature Crowder’s excellent song “Ghost”. Listen to it here.

[Verse 1]
This ghost is a fire
A holy fire burning higher
Burning through the night
Burning with a light of a billion stars

[Verse 2]
His love is like lightning
Cracking through the sky and
And burning though the rage
Burning through the pain of a billion scars

Get ready, get ready
Get ready, get ready
All the stories are true

[Verse 3]
His ghost is inside me
Holy fire burning wildly
Burning through the things
That need to be erased to liberate my soul

Get ready, there’s an empty tomb
Get ready, there’s a ghost in the room
Get ready, even mountains move
Get ready, all the stories are true
Get ready, there’s an empty tomb
Get ready, there’s a ghost in the room
Get ready, even mountains move
Get ready, all the stories are true

He’ll heal you, He’ll heal you
He’ll heal you, He’ll heal you

We’re ready for Your fire to fall
We’re ready for Your voice to the call
We’re ready for Your lightning come
We’re ready, into Your arms we run
We’re ready, let the heavens part
We’re ready for the angel’s songs
We’re ready for death be done
We’re ready for Your kingdom come
We’re ready like a waiting bride
We’re ready for Your bread and wine
We’re ready to burst to life
We’re ready for You to set things right
So come on, come on
Come on, we’re ready
We’re ready, we’re ready

Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence – married to my best friend Tammy, a graduate of Covenant Seminary, St. Louis Cardinals fan, formerly a manager at a Fortune 50 organization, and in leadership at my local church. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people develop, and to use their strengths to their fullest potential. I am an INTJ on Myers-Briggs, 3 on the Enneagram, my top five Strengthsfinder themes are: Belief, Responsibility, Learner, Harmony, and Achiever, and my two StandOut strength roles are Creator and Equalizer. My favorite book is the Bible, with Romans my favorite book of the Bible, and Colossians 3:23 and 2 Corinthians 5:21 being my favorite verses. Some of my other favorite books are The Holiness of God and Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul, and Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. I enjoy music in a variety of genres, including modern hymns, Christian hip-hop and classic rock. My book Called to Lead: Living and Leading for Jesus in the Workplace and Tammy’s book Study, Savor and Share Scripture: Becoming What We Behold are available in paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon.

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