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Themes of Thanksgiving


With Thanksgiving right around the corner and Christmas on its heels, the holiday season has begun. Christmas decorations have been appearing in stores since Halloween and the tents for trees are going up around town. Thanksgiving to me is sort of a funny concept. Don’t get me wrong, I love the turkey and gravy, pumpkin pie, spending time with family and feeling the season change, but why do we as Christians need to set aside one day where we give thanks? Since I’ve started working at Cross and gotten involved with Harmony of Hearts, I’ve begun to realize just how much I have to be thankful for. Even when things in my life don’t go how I want them too or God does some pruning in my heart, I know I have the ability to give thanks, because he’s working in my life. The song “Carried to the Table” by Leeland has really touched my heart recently so I wanted to share it with you. The chorus reads: I was carried to the table Seated where I don’t belong Carried to the table Swept away by His love And I don’t see my brokenness anymore When I’m seated at the table of the Lord I’m carried to the table The table of the Lord That’s the greatest gift we could ever receive. We have been forgiven. We have been given mercy. We have been given grace. Let God show you the truth in this song, and have a Happy Thanksgiving.


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Connecting with Scripture thru music – new Nicole Nordeman


My personal feeling is that the perceived problem is the relevance of Scripture. It becomes harder to bring the mess of our modern questions to the pages of such a holy and sacred text, and find relevant answers. We are tempted to look solely through a cultural or historical lens, taking Scripture and the stories within, at face value. We want sound bites and CliffsNotes. We want easy acronyms from our pastor to help us remember the “takeaway” from a certain passage. I just don’t think Scripture can be read or absorbed like this. I was humbled and embarrassed as I dug further into this project to realize how I had marginalized some of these characters over time. I think people often shrug and walk away from the study of Scripture (and maybe from churches) because at first glance we don’t see the immediate connection between God’s people then … and now. We don’t see any connective tissue from our lives to theirs. And it’s just too much work for most of us to dig deep enough and long enough to unearth the treasure that is buried a few miles down. – Nicole Nordeman on “Stories”, her first album in six years.


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What is your church worth?


Interesting study graphic here says “in a 1997 study, (it was) found that urban congregations provide, on average, $140,000 worth of services annually.  In 2009, (it) was revised to more than $476,000 annually.” Some specifics: Reduced crime rate:  $64k Volunteer hours: $94.7 Rehab efforts (drugs, alcohol):  $78.7 Stimulus to local economy (church budget):  $520k Impact for eternity:  priceless. HT:  Christianity Today


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Praying for the first Independence Day


It was a gloomy atmosphere which greeted the delegates gathered in the old Statehouse in Philadelphia over 200 years ago. They had come from all 13 colonies to act upon the troubled conditions which plagued the New World.  Should a new nation be considered or not? Elder statesman Benjamin Franklin spoke: “…the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that God governs the affairs of men.  And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his will, is it possible for an empire to rise without his notice?…except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it.  I firmly believe this.” This statement, from Psalm 127, was followed by a time of prayer from which came the singleness of purpose which gave birth to America on July 4, 1776. (from On This Day by Carl D. Windsor, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989, p. 203)


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Billionaire Buffett serves the African poor


Howard Buffett, son of famed Wall Street guru and billionaire Warren Buffett, is spending not just his finances but also his life fighting hunger in Africa. According to the Wall Street Journal: It was ordained that Howard and his two siblings would see the family fortune given away rather than have it to spend on themselves. His father, who lives far below his means in a modest Omaha house, has argued publicly that it does little good for society when children inherit great wealth by virtue of an ‘ovarian lottery’…Of his middle child, he says, ‘he’s got my money and his mother’s heart’… It’s hard to measure the impact of Howard Buffett’s foundation, something Mr. Buffett himself acknowledges. He does most of the work finding and visiting projects…. He employs eight people, mostly in administrative roles. One man is based in South Africa overseeing research on Mr. Buffett’s 6,000 acres of farmland outside Johannesburg. It was there on a wildlife preserve that he set up that a cheetah bit him. Mr. Buffett figures his foundation’s projects have helped about 1.5 million Africans so far. He hopes that the crop-breeding work he is supporting will eventually help millions more African farmers feed their families. Video below is excellent and worth a few minutes of your time. (HT:  Chroncle of Philanthrophy)


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Keeping your team in concert


Mike Hyatt has 8 things he’s learned about leadership from attending a Nashville Symphony Orchestra concert and observing the conductor. Among his thoughts are: Start with a great score. Conductors have a plan, starting with a score and a clear idea of how it should sound.  Only then do they attempt to recreate in real time their musical  ‘vision.’ Recruit the best talent. Great conductors attract great players; mediocre conductors attract mediocre players.  The best want to work for the best – like attracts like. The conductor is purposely visible to be seen by everybody. He stands on a platform so that every member of the orchestra can see him.  This is the only way they all stay together, starting and stopping at the appropriate time. More from Hyatt’s blog here. (photo credit:  MikeHyatt.com)


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Warren Barfield kills 5 weeks in 5 minutes


I received an email from the singer-songwriter who says he’s recuperating after a dirt-bike accident at his home, breaking his collarbone in 2 places. In his message, titled Five Weeks Killed in Five Minutes, Warren says about the lesson learned: “…if you are 6 foot 4 inches tall, don’t ride on a motor bike made for a 4-footer.” Check out some of Warren’s tunes below (you’ll see he’s a better musician than dirt bike rider).


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This is it: Michael Jackson


It was a grand finale planned for the King of Pop. For This Is It, Michael Jackson’s 50 sold-out shows at London’s o2 arena, fans had shelled out $85 million for 750,000 tickets. The extended stretch of performances were to be spectacular.  According to USA Today:  “A hovering orb, a flaming bed, mutant spiders, 20-foot puppets, 3-D effects, pyrotechnics and the return of the crooning, spinning, moonwalking King of Pop.”  These shows were reported to be “the biggest, most spectacular live production ever seen.” The man was reportedly on his game.  After 3 months of solid rehearsal, Jackson was said to be “energetic, passionate, diligent, prepared, excited and an effective leader.”  He was said to be “the same Michael Jackson we (saw) through the years in music videos.” His last few years haunted by debt and negative press, Jackson no doubt had planned for these comeback shows to burnish his tarnished image and bolster his depleted bank accounts. And then – two and a half weeks before the first show – Michael Jackson died.  Unexpectedly and apparently without warning, his soul was required of him. Another reminder that the way of a man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps, as the prophet of old has said. Or, as another wrote: Man proposes and God disposes. Are you ready? To prepare for life beyond life, read more here. (HT:  Robyn Lees, CI colleague)


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Verbatim: R.C. Sproul on the worship wars


Nice post here from a respected theologian (also my former seminary prof) concerning church music which, in part, says: It is instructive to remember that most of the hymns that are now well-received in the church as part of the classic depository of hymnody were considered innovative at one time. In fact, many hymn writers borrowed from the musical styles that were popular in the secular world of their day, put them into a Christian context, and introduced them into the life of the church. In some cases, people raised objections to certain styles of music being used in the church. For instance, one of the most beloved hymn writers in fundamentalist circles, Fanny Crosby, consciously used the musical style that was popular in the bars of her day, and it was scandalous to people. It is an undeniable truth that when musical forms and styles change in the secular world, the new styles inevitably find their way into the church. Read the rest  here.


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