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The Most Wonderful Time


While Christmas is often call the most wonderful time of year, it can also be the most stressful. There can be so much to coordinate between dinners, gifts, shopping, family relationships and so on. I purposefully wanted to keep this post short, sweet and to the point. Lets cherish our families this year. Tell them you love them every chance you get. Because honestly, we’re not promised any certain amount of time on this earth and who knows if this could be the last Christmas we get to spend with someone we care about. This year, care for the family you have around you and pray for those far away. Pray also for our brothers and sisters who don’t know where their Christmas meal is coming from, and pray for the parents who don’t know how to tell their kids there’s no money for gifts this year. Finally, pray for the kids in need around the world. That this Christmas Jesus would hold them in his arms and provide for their needs. We are so incredibly blessed just to be able to wake up in the morning. I pray you get to spend Christmas with the people you love. Merry Christmas.  – Briana B


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And The Winner Is…


Harmony of Hearts is proud to announce that Josh Wilson is the winner of the 2011 Harmony of Hearts Song of the Year Award. Josh’s song “I Refuse” beat Brandon Heath’s song “The One” and Britt Nicole’s “Set the World on Fire” in a close competition. Some of the lyrics in Josh’s song really capture the goal of Harmony of Hearts. The song goes: Cause I don’t want to live like I don’t care I don’t want to say another empty prayer Oh, I refuse To sit around and wait for someone else To do what God has called me to do myself Oh, I could choose Not to move but I refuse To stand and watch the weary and lost Cry out for help I refuse to turn my back And try and act like all is well I refuse to stay unchanged To wait another day, to die to myself I refuse to make one more excuse. These lyrics really drive home the point that each of us as Christians has a responsibility to care for the poor, the “widows and the orphans” as Jesus put it. Especially now as Christmas is fast approaching and we prepare to celebrate Jesus’ birth, lets not forget to take care of our poorer brothers and sister who so desperately need our help. Congratulations to Josh Wilson on winning the 2011 Song of the Year Award! You can check out the music video below.  – Briana B


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Simplicity


It seems to me, everything in life is getting more complicated every day. Where we used to order a cup of coffee, we now order a mocha chai double shot half-calf latte with whip. Where we used to just send a letter, now we email, facebook, text and tweet. And where we used to understand the simplicity of salvation through grace, we often get caught fighting over minute theological intricacies. Don’t get me wrong, theology is paramount in understanding what it is we believe and keeping us on track spiritually, but is it possible we’ve moved a little too far from the child-like faith we were called to have? Romans 10:9 tells us “If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved,” (NIV). That’s it, pretty straightforward. Confess and believe. The song “True Love” by Phil Wickham reminds me of that simplicity, that Jesus came to earth, died, was buried and rose again to save us. That’s the gift of salvation; it really is that simple. The chorus says: The earth was shaking in the dark All creation felt the Father’s broken heart Tears were filling Heaven’s eyes The day that true love died, the day that true love died.   It’s a powerful reminder as we go throughout the day that Jesus loved us so much he chose to lay down his life for us. Plain and simple.  – Briana B


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It’s that time…


Every year, Harmony of Hearts hosts the Harmony of Hearts Song of the Year Award, which searches high and low for Christian artists that have written a song in the past year that really reflects the vision of both Harmony of Hearts and its parent organization, Cross International. This year, the three finalists up for Song of the Year are Britt Nicole and “Set the World on Fire”, Josh Wilson and “I Refuse” and last but not least, Brandon Heath and “The One”. Harmony of Hearts chose these three songs because each of them reflects the heart of Christ in reaching out to the poor, and carries that message to the world. Isaiah 61:1 says “The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.” This verse has really come alive for me this week as I’ve been spending time in the word. To know that Christ came to “bind up the brokenhearted” is so liberating. We don’t have to stay broken or afraid. He has come to proclaim freedom. In 2009, the band Leeland won the Harmony of Hearts award for their song “Follow You”. Cross took this song and infused video and audio clips from our project in Africa, as you can see below. To vote for this year’s Song of the Year, visit www.crossinternational.org/SOTY  – Briana B


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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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Who says young people don’t give?


Here’s a story that proves otherwise: College students attending the Passion Conference in Fort Worth… exceeded the set goal and gave over $227,000 to fund a Bible translation project in the Western African nation of Mali. Currently, members of that particular people group in Mali have no access to the Bible in their own language. But now with the money given by students attending the Passion 2011 Fort Worth conference, the people group will receive translation of 90 Bible stories into their “heart” or native language over the next five years. If you want to pump up your youth group by making a huge difference for the poor, contact me about holding a Harmony of Hearts event for your church this summer.


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Attn: Chicago music lovers


This is a marvelous way to commemorate Holy Week: On Wednesday, April 20, 2011, at the mid-point in Holy Week, Soli Deo Gloria will launch the Chicago Bach Project with Johann Sebastian Bach’s brilliant and profoundly moving St. Matthew Passion. SDG’s Artistic Director, John Nelson, will conduct a distinguished roster of soloists, the Chicago Bach Choir & Orchestra, and Anima – Young Singers of Greater Chicago in this “Great Passion,” as the St. Matthew is known. Get tickets here.    


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The story of St. Valentine


(Courtesy of Lutheran Hour Ministries) In 270 A.D., marriage had been outlawed by the emperor of Rome, Claudius II. Claudius issued this decree because he thought that married men made bad soldiers since they were reluctant to be torn away from their families in the case of war. Claudius had also outlawed Christianity in this time period because he wished to be praised as the one supreme god, the Emperor of Rome. Valentine was the bishop of Interamna during this period of oppression. Valentine thought that the decrees of Rome were wrong. He believed that people should be free to love God and to marry. Valentine invited the young couples of the area to come to him. When they came, Valentine secretly performed services of matrimony and united the couples. Valentine was eventually caught and was brought before the emperor. The emperor saw that Valentine had conviction and drive that was unsurpassed among his men. Claudius tried and tried to persuade Valentine to leave Christianity, serve the Roman empire and the Roman gods. In exchange, Claudius would pardon him and make him one of his allies. St. Valentine held to his faith and did not renounce Christ. Because of this, the emperor sentenced him to a three-part execution. First, Valentine would be beaten, then stoned, and then finally, decapitated. Valentine died on February 14th, 270 A.D. While in prison, waiting for his sentence to be carried out, Valentine fell in love with the jailer’s daughter, the blind Asterius. During the course of Valentine’s prison stay, a miracle occurred and Asterius regained her sight. Valentine sent her a final farewell note. He signed his last note, “From Your Valentine.” To learn how the early church started the custom of Valentine cards, click here.


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Free downloads – Complete Bach organ works


According to the site: Free downloads of the complete organ works of Johann Sebastian Bach, recorded by Dr. James Kibbie on original baroque organs in Germany, are offered on this site. Click Familiar Masterworks to begin with a selection of audience favorites. Click Catalog for a list of all works. Click Search to find a specific work, collection or venue. Click Download in Groups to download multiple works with a single click. HT:  Cal Beisner


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