Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

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New and Upcoming Music You May Be Interested In

Here are 4 new Christmas albums, as well as 3 other new releases that you might be interested in:

Christmas Albums

Milk & Cookies: A Merry Crowder Christmas – Crowder

Crowder will release Milk & Cookies: A Merry Crowder Christmas on October 21. The 14-song project is a mix of originals, re-imagined classics, and creative collaborations. Continue reading

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Western Stars – Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen returns with his 19th studio album, and first of all new, original material since his 2012’s Wrecking Ball. The 69-year-old Springsteen wrote all of the songs and co-produced the album with Ron Aniello, who produced 2014’s High Hopes and Wrecking Ball. The album, which draws inspiration from the Southern California pop music of the late ’60s and early ’70s, features guest appearances by more than 20 players, including multi-instrumentalist and composer Jon Brion, violinist and singer Soozie Tyrell and former E Street Band member David Sancious. Springsteen has said that the album is a return to his solo recordings, and features character-driven songs and sweeping, cinematic orchestral arrangements.
This album grew on me, sounding better with each repeated listening. The music is laid back and the lyrics are relatively simple. Here are a few brief comments about each song:

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

  • More of this review and reviews of I Know a Ghost by Crowder, and Into the Night by Social Club Misfits
  • Music News
  • Music Quotes
  • Song of the Week Lyrics

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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. Continue reading

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The Misadventures of Fern and Marty

The Misadventures of Fern & Marty is the first Social Club full-album release on Capitol Records after being independent artists, and their fourth studio album overall. The fifteen songs include themes of marriage, family, the grace and love of God and plenty of fun. There are a number of special guests such as Andy Mineo. Unless otherwise noted, the songs were produced by 42 North and Wit.

I really enjoyed this album. Below are a few comments about each of the songs:

Vibes Vibes Vibes – This song is written by 42 North, Wit, and the Social Club Misfits. It features a good beat right out of the box, with Fern and Aha Gazelle trading verses on this autobiographical track.  It includes reference to their being signed to Capitol Records:

Now they say that we great
I just say that you late

Independent so long when the labels would call we thought it was fake

The song closes with a spoken word piece by about what it mean to be a misfit.

Pop Out Revenge – This song is produced by Amarl, and was the first single released from the album. It was written by Amarl and the Social Club Misfits and features some good beats. Amarl, Marty and Fern all take a turn at the lead vocals. Includes another reference to them being signed by Capitol.

Love 4 Real– This was the second radio single released. It was written by Wit, 42 North, Daramola and the Social Club Misfits. It’s a love song about dating, marriage and family. It has more of an easy-going vibe. Fern, Marty and Daramola share the lead vocals.

Who Else
– This is a fun song that features Andy Mineo and includes lines like “Bout to make chubby fellas cool again” and “Come to your door like I’m Newman”. It was originally made for their Friends and Family Tour.  It’s has a good beat throughout, and is my favorite track on the album, reminding me of the excellent collaboration Marty had with Mineo on “Paisano’s Wylin” from the latter’s Neverland EP. The track is produced by 42 North and written by Mineo and the Social Club Misfits. Continue reading

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American Prodigal CrowderAmerican Prodigal (Deluxe Edition) – Crowder

After a successful sixteen-year run leading the David Crowder Band that ended in 2012, David Crowder, now known simply as Crowder, released Neon Steeple in 2014, one of my favorite albums of that year. He returns now with American Prodigal, and what he calls “swamp pop”. The album features recurring themes of sin and forgiveness, chains, freedom, being a prodigal and Heaven.  Below are a few thoughts about each of the songs on the Deluxe edition of the album:

American Intro – This brief minute and a half opener features Crowder with a simple piano backing. He wants Heaven to be opened and all of the angels of Heaven to sing along Come on Hallelujah!

Keep Me – This is a prayer to the Lord to keep him walking as the devil keeps calling him back. But the Lord keeps calling him home. It features a foot-stomping, hand-clapping, heavy beat, banjo, fiddle, good backing vocals and even some rapping from Crowder.  The chorus reminded me a bit of Toby Mac’s “Move (Keep Walkin’).

Run Devil Run – The first single, this is a rousing toe-tapping rocker. He sings that he has something that’s going to make the devil run. He has three (the Father, Son and Holy Spirit) and the devil has none. We have revival. A song that will really be fun in concert.

My Victory – Was included on the Passion album Salvation’s Tide is Rising. This is a great song that will be sung in churches around the world. It features more of a Passion band sound than Crowder’s usual “folktronica” sound. It starts slow and then builds to a powerful chorus and the line “A cross meant to kill is my victory”. Amen! One of my favorite songs of the year.

Prove It – This song features Christian rapper KB. It has a foot-stomping, driving beat. It’s about freedom. He sings that if you’re free, prove it. If not, loose the chains on your soul.    

All Your Burdens – This song opens with banjo and then goes into a driving rocker with excellent guitar and drums. He sings that all his burdens weigh him down, but the chains will be broken and we shall overcome and have victory.

Back to the Garden – This song is from the perspective of Adam. He sings that he was born to be royal and made for glory, but was torn from the garden when the devil lied to him.  It starts slow and builds powerfully. He longs to go back to the garden when he walked in the presence of God. The song features a blazing guitar solo.

Forgiven – A powerful worship song that begins with guitar and piano, then builds with banjo and drums. He sings that he was the one who held the nail, hid in the garden and denied Jesus with his lips. Despite this, we can receive God’s unconditional love and find freedom by falling to our knees and receive forgiveness from our sins.

Promised Land (Glory, Hallelujah) – This is a triumphant worship song featuring Crowder’s swamp sound. Who has the power (to save, heal, raise the dead, make me whole, etc.)? It’s his sweet Lord. He’s longing for the Promised Land. It features a rap from Christian rapper Tedashii, who will be touring with Crowder.

All My Hope – This song has the feel of an old-time gospel song. It opens with piano, and builds slowly with light drums and finishes with a great backing choir. He’s been held by the Savior. All his hope is in Jesus. All of his sins are forgiven. He’s been washed by the blood. The chains are removed, he’s freed and forgiven.  One of my favorites on the album.

Shouting Grounds – This song features the swamp pop sound. He should be dead but he’s alive. He’s a prodigal, who was lost but now is found. He wants to be taken to shouting grounds, where it’s going to get loud. No grave is going to hold him down. This is a triumphant, victory song.  Features some Native American chanting toward the end of the song.

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Neon Porch Extravaganza - CrowderMusic Review:  Neon Porch Extravaganza (EP) – Crowder

This surprise new live recording available exclusively from iTunes from Crowder features six songs, five of them from his excellent 2014 release Neon Steeple (one of my favorites from last year), plus a video of one of them. The songs were recorded on the front porch of Crowder’s home church, Passion City Church in Atlanta, where Louis Giglio is the pastor. The songs came off so well Crowder decided to release them on iTunes. The album cover art features Kenny Rodgers, the Artic Fox, Crowder’s touring sidekick.

The album features excellent live high-energy versions of “My Beloved” (watch this video of the song being performed. Note: the video is not included on the EP), “I Am”, “Come As You Are”, and “Hands of Love” from Neon Steeple. It also features Crowder’s cover of Drake’s “Hold On We’re Going Home”. That’s right, Crowder covers a Drake song. Although Drake sings it to a girl, in his interpretation, Crowder sings to the Lord and to believers:

I got my eyes on you
You’re everything that I see
I want your high love and emotion endlessly
I can’t get over you
You left your mark on me
I want your high love and emotion endlessly

So just hold on we’re going home (going home)
Just hold on we’re going home (going home)
It’s hard to do these things alone (things alone)
Just hold on we’re going home (going home, going home)

Also included is a new version of “Lift Your Head Weary Sinner (Chains) featuring a powerful rap from Tedashii. A video of this performance is also included.

All in all, you get a lot of value (six songs, including the video) and 25 minutes of music for just $4.99 on iTunes. Can’t wait for the next studio release from Crowder.


musicnewsCaroline. Watch Jon Foreman perform his song “Caroline” from his The Wonderlands: Sunlight EP as he tests out the Fender Acoustic SFX amplifier.

Go Tell It On the Mountain. Watch this video of “Go Tell It On The Mountain” from Keith and Kristyn Getty’s new Christmas album Joy: An Irish Christmas LIVE.

Noel. Watch the video of Lauren Daigle performing “Noel” from Chris Tomlin’s new album Adore: Christmas Songs of Worship.

Music Quotes:

  • It’s better to create something that others criticize than to create nothing and criticize others. Lecrae
  • Is it just me or are newer iPhones jetting worse at spellunking wurdz? Matt Maher

Song of the Week

Clothed in Righteousness – Jeff Lippencott and R.C. Sproul

This week we begin our countdown to our annual “My Favorites” listing with our #5 song of the year. The words are by theologian R.C. Sproul and the music by Jeff Lippencott. It is from the sacred music album Glory for the Holy One. It’s a hymn I sang a few times at Ligonier National Conferences and in worship services at Saint Andrews Chapel before this album was released. You can listen to the song here.

Fallen race in Eden fair
Exposed and full of shame
Fled we naked from Thy sight
Far from Thy holy Name

RefrainGlory to the Holy One

Clothe us in Your righteousness
Hide filthy rags of sin
Dress us in Your perfect garb
Both outside and within

Sent from the garden in the east
Outside of Eden’s gate
Banished there from Thy pure light
Were Adam and his mate

Scarlet souls are now like snow
By Thy atoning grace
Crimson hearts become like wool
For Adam’s fallen race


No work of ours is good enough
For evil to atone
Your merit, Lord, is all we have
It saves, and it alone


Next week we’ll look at our #4 song of the year.

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Center for Faith and Work Dream

Ever since reading Tim Keller’s outstanding book Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work (see review here: Every Good Endeavor  by Timothy Keller), and reading about Redeemer Presbyterian’s Center for Faith and Work, I’ve had a passion to do something like that locally. I write about that in my “Philosophy of Ministry document here: Philosphy of Ministry – FINAL copy. I would like to merge what I’ve learned in my vocational leadership and my seminary education.

Now that I have completed my seminary work I have more time to focus on this. This summer I will be reading recommended books and thinking about what this may look like in Bloomington/Normal.

For example, I’ll be reading some of these books to learn more about how to integrate my faith into my vocational life:

Every Good Endeavor
Creation Regained
Culture Making
Work Matters
Playing Heaven: Rediscovering Our Purpose as Participants in the Mission of God
He Shines in All That’s Fair
When The Kings Come Marching In

Initial thoughts I have are to organize book clubs reading some of these books. I can also envision Adult Sunday School classes on faith and work. I could see a panel discussion, with people from different vocations talking about what it looks like to be a Christian in different fields (IT, medical profession, farming, insurance and financial services, etc.).

To find out more about Redeemer’s Center for Faith and Work, go to

If you have a similar passion, please let me know.









  • Disney’s film Frozen recently surpassed their film Iron Man 3 to become the fifth-highest grossing film of all time, with an incredible $1.219 billion in ticket sales worldwide. Read more here:,0,2641840.story
  • There were a few strong debuts by Christian artists on the iTunes charts this week. Below Paradise by Tedashii debuted at #7 and Neon Steeple, the initial release by Crowder debuted at #8. In addition, Below Paradise debuted at #1 on the Hip-Hop/Rap charts. Congratulations!
  • Speaking of Tedashii and Crowder, Crowder guests on the song “Angels and Demons” on Tedashii’s Below Paradise album.
  • The Decatur Celebration will be held August 1-3 in downtown Decatur. Dove Award Contemporary Christian singer Jamie Grace will be in concert on Sunday, August 3. To check out more information about the event, go to

I got a chuckle out of this sign that appeared in Christianity Today.

quaker ave.


Leadership Book Review ~

  • The Noticer by Andy Andrews

Sports Book Reviews ~

  • A Golfer’s Life by Arnold Palmer with James Dodson
  • Mentored by the King: Arnold Palmer’s Success Lessons for Golf, Business, and Life by Brad Brewer

Movie Review ~ Maleficent, rated PG

Album Review ~ Neon Steeple by Crowder


Quotable: God in saving us saves us from Himself. -RC Sproul