Post Category: Weekly Music Notes

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Pre-Rebuilding Step Five: Pray God's Promises and Dream Big

8"Rememberthe instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, 'If you are unfaithful, I will scatteryou among the nations,9but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gatherthem from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.' (Nehemiah 1:8-9) (Note: If you're just joini...

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Pre-Rebuilding Step Four: Disown the Problem

8"Rememberthe instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, 'If you are unfaithful, I will scatteryou among the nations,9but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gatherthem from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.' (Nehemiah 1:8-9) (Note: If you're just joini...

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The Justice That Seeks and Saves, Part Two

What does the LORD require of you? To act justly, love mercyand walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8). For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost (Luke 19:10). Are you catching echoes of the prodigal son story in the story of Zacchaeus? A son who has "un-son-ed" himself based on his attitudes and behavior a good shepherd/good Father who seeks the return a...

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The Justice That Seeks and Saves, Part One

What does the LORD require of you? To act justly, love mercyand walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8). For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost (Luke 19:10 As we have been attending to the perhaps familiar "Zacchaeus story" this week, it's important to set it in its wider context. Good Bible reading doesn't just attend to a given passage, it also notices...

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It Matters

They chose Nicholas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism (Acts 6:5). We've been looking at how the first Christians responded to a significant challenge and problem, a disparity in treatment between the Hebraic and Grecian widows. Usually, when we hear a sermon on this passage, we're looking at the beginning of the "office of deacon" and think the major take-away has to do...

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Rhetorical Questions?

Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?""I don't know," he replied, "am I my brother's keeper?"" (Genesis 4:9). Well, that was unexpected: on top of a pandemic, lock-downs, re-openings, hygiene and masksa brutal, appalling killing of an unarmed, handcuffed African- American man by a white police officer (while three other officers stood by) and rightful ...

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If Only...

I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 8:11-12) Reading aloud has always been a part of the bedtime routine in our house....

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When Jesus Summons

"'Lord, if it's you,'" Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water.""Come," he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the waterand came to Jesus (Matthew 14:28-29). It is never an easy thing when Jesus summons us. If answering the call was easy everyone would do it, but there is always something to consider before doing so. Often the task at hand ...

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In Two Places at Once

After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison...About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God,and the other prisoners were listening to them (Acts 16:23a and 25a). In the movie A Walk to Remember, Landon takes Jamie to the Virginia/North Carolina state-line and asks her to stand with one foot in one state and one in the other. ...

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The Day Reality Was Revised

... they were on their way to the tomb... "Don't be alarmed, "he (the young man dressed in a white robe) said. "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here... But go, tell his disciples..." Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb.They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid (Mark 16:2, 6a, 8...

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Heart Transplant

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20). The tension in the operating room was palpable as the chief surgeon resolutely pushed the gurney carrying the heart donor through the doors. Waiting inside lay the terminal pa...

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A New Temple, in Three Acts

Ephesians 2:11-22 Your Connect Devotional scribes hope our readers are reading the whole of the week's Scripture passage before diving into our brief attempts to comment on one or two aspects of it each morning. Please get a sense for the forest before reading our observations on one or two trees! We're currently exploring a wonderful, beautiful, un-boundaried "forest"...

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What Happened on the Cross

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21) At the heart and center of the Christian faith and life hangs a crucified man. And around that terrible image some weighty and wonder-filled words have gathered: atonement, reconciliation, ransom, forgiveness, redemption, restoration, substitution, sacrifice, blood, victory, along with many others. We w...

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Armor Looks Good on You!

"Put on the full armor of God" (Ephesians 6:13). If you ran into someone, let's say at a crowded checkout line, dressed in a full suit of Roman armorhelmet, breastplate, shield, sword, the whole worksyou might be puzzled, bemused, or maybe annoyed: no wonder the line's moving so slowly! If, however, you encountered someone whose life was characterized by truth, righteous...

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Happy New Year - Blessed Are

Here’s the good news: God begins the righting of the upside-down world, not by commanding or rebuking or punishing, but by coming in person and speaking words of blessing. Blessing gets life going -- true, real, and abundant life!...

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The Would-Be Weed-Out Class

The unique and distinguishing characteristics of Christian community...

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The Blank Check Prayer Promise

Our character formation in Christ leads us to a place where we can ask whatever we want and God will (one day) grant it!...

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Jesus Meets the Voices in Your Head

Jesus asks the men on the road to Emmaus questions to surface their hearts and needs...

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Be Worth Remembering

Focus on your legacy and you’ll lose it. Focus on loving the Lord and the people he places in front of you and you’ll leave a legacy that will be worth remembering....

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As It Turns Out, God's At Work

God's at work, even in our darkest times. ...

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Three Things to do With Warnings in the Bible

There are lots of warning passages in the Scriptures, how do we receive them as a gift of grace rather than frown upon them as judgmental and angry? ...

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Set Free From (Mere) Religion

Jesus frees us from empty religion to a real relationship...

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Parcheesi, Exorcisms, and the Label Makers

Jesus tells the demons to be quiet even though they're speaking truthfully about who he is. ...

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Overcoming Our Authority Issues

Good news: Jesus is the authority we can trust and we were made for....

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Before Direction

Some days, I want the Lord to tell me the direction he wants me to take so that I can decide whether to submit to him or not. This is not his way....

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God with us

What do you think God sees when he sees you? ...

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Yes, no?

Years ago Alex introduced us to a phrase that offers great insight into this dilemma: “God’s ‘No’ is always in service to his larger ‘Yes.’”...

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Meditative Reading

Jesus’ every word and phrase can ring in our ears....

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Explaining the Risk

Good Bible readers will float and test theories as to why things are happening in the text and why people say and do the things they do....

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What love looks like

The clearest picture of love isn’t buried in some corner of the future or hiding in some region of the present. You can see love as easily as you can see your own shadow … if you’ll look....

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The Lord and Giver of Rest

There’s almost always more work to do than can ever be done....

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The Direct Path

The easiest path isn’t always the most direct one....

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On Wisdom and Wealth

Wisdom and Wealth are not enemies....

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Free to love

What if this new way of seeing the world got its light from relationships rather than from obedience to rules?...

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Bond Brothers

When we’re included in Christ, new bonds spring into existence between us and each and every individual who is connected with God....

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No Needy Persons Allowed?

Why might there be no needy persons in a faith community?...

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Jesus the Not A Ghost

Use the negative image to grow your appreciation for what actually happened....

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Preparing for Easter

It’s less than two weeks away. With forecasts of snow showers and promises of spring break, if you blink you’ll miss it....

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The Seeds and the Birds

When we become who God invites us to become we benefit from the growth and we bless our broader community....

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An Ordinary Group

The remarkable thing about the men was that they had been with Jesus (see Acts 4:13)....

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Depending on each other

God’s invitation to “together” is the only pathway to “better.”...

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Bypassing Honor

Jesus’ decision to move on to other towns and villages to preach meant that he wouldn’t be able to stick around to enjoy the honor and gratitude of all of the people he had directly and indirectly helped....

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Quiet and Rest

There’s a rest that comes from quiet and a rest that comes from depending on Jesus. We, like Jesus’ disciples, need both....

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Presence and Affection

Presence and affection. This is what love looks like....

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From ordinary to extraordinary

Just as God can take the ordinary and make it extraordinary, he can take the sacred and make it holy....

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Thirsty

She had such a hard time seeing beyond her thirst. And so do we....

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Grace and Mercy when you need them

In our time of need, we need to know that God is at work restraining evil. He’s not absent. He isn’t on vacation or taking a nap. He’s fully engaged....

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The Neighbor of Mercy

Anyone can be your neighbor....

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Meant for Good

Throughout your life you will encounter people who in moments of foolishness mean to do you harm. Don’t wrap your life around them....

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Coming Unstuck

God can work in a thousand ways to transform the way we see the people who’ve hurt us....

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Emotional Landmines

Our past experiences of trauma can trigger strong reactions in us....

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Waiting

Don’t lose hope if you can’t chart a clear course from where you are today to where you hope to be....

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Past a first impression

We can’t rid ourselves of our automatic habit of capturing first impressions as we meet new people, but we can cultivate habits of attention that allow us to look beyond those initial judgements....

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The Search for Security

We love hard work. We work hard. But the Lord is the one who holds our ultimate security....

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Better Together

You cannot go off by yourself and grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ....

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Mixing with mysteries

Paul didn’t want the Christian mysteries to be held in secret as copyrighted proprietary instruction. He wanted everyone to talk about these great mysteries....

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Good works

God pulls us into his activity....

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Everything in Christ

Jesus gives us access to every spiritual blessing....

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Fruits of Your Labor

For those of us who labor ...

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All in Jesus name

The Christian life spills beyond Sunday morning worship, small group life, and quiet devotional emails. ...

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No streaking

These virtues function like clothing. They make it possible for us to be present and un-self-conscious, to feel safe and secure, to feel wanted for who we are and not just for our bodies … for what we can do....

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Two Realities

Because the new is here, the old has gone. The old may remain for a beat or two, but it’s gone just as surely and securely as if it had already been eradicated....

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We died

Death in all it’s forms ...

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The cross shows

You are dearly loved by God. And he proved it on the cross....

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Disrupting Default Segregation

Ethnic segregation, socioeconomic segregation, political segregation … left to our own devices we’ll surround ourselves exclusively with people who look, spend, and think just like us....

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Radical Reorientation

The Lord isn’t done with our transformation at the moment of our initial conversion. Every day we follow him he works in our hearts and souls to change the way we think, love and live....

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A Dose of Joy

In a world that’s clearly not the way it’s supposed to be, God has intervened....

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The Dung Gate

The whole community is blessed when someone is willing to step in and do the work no one else wants to do....

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The Place for Planning

As people of faith, we don’t have to be afraid of planning. The same God who speeds and catches us when we take our leaps of faith can inspire and guide us when we plan....

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Prepare for trouble

Troubles and persecutions can come as a result of our faith. If we haven’t put down deep roots, our faith won’t survive....

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Manipulating God

James and John are comically transparent in their attempt to manipulate Jesus. Aren’t we all?...

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Kingdom of Heaven

How would you fill in this blank: “The kingdom of heaven is like _________.”?...

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Boxing Day Rest

Rest. Rest. The weary world rejoices. ...

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The choice to give credit

Crediting the Lord is a choice that we make. And it’s a choice worth making. ...

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Joseph's obedience

In those early years of Jesus’ life, his adopted father sheltered him from political powers that would gladly have taken his life and obstructed his saving mission....

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A Bigger Perspective

Once Joseph received this bigger perspective, his reason for being afraid went away. When he chose to listen and believe, his life changed....

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Work in the margins

The Lord pays attention to the margins of our lives and those who live on the margins of society....

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Generous sharing

God not only makes a wonderful creation, he generously shares it with people that they might tend to it in a way that he would....

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Worship is warfare

We respond to God with open hearts and are transformed by him. We humble ourselves. We need this more than he needed plans, guidance, or miraculous intervention. ...

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Storytelling historians

We carry a responsibility to faithfully pass along what we’ve heard and seen of the Lord....

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A Picture of the Gospel

Jesus showed courage. We benefitted....

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Generosity motivated

God’s generosity toward us motivates our obedience to him....

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The Source of our Courage

God’s presence fills us with strength and courage. ...

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Not Uniformity

An imposter has stolen Unity’s identity and attempted to pass himself off in her stead....

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Everything and Everyone

Have you ever considered the comprehensive nature of God’s ownership? ...

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One thing I know

People can doubt your testimony but they can never take it away....

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Real freedom

Following Jesus isn’t easy, but it’s worth it....

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Surprised by Jesus

As we step forward into the next year, we know that Jesus will surprise us....

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Engaged with the city

Even though we don’t live in densely-populated, urban areas, we live in the midst of systems and structures that extend beyond individuals....

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Inventory your prayer life

James picks out several different reasons to pray and several different ways to pray....

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No shuffle

We are freshwater people. ...

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Faith into action

What are some ways you can put your faith into action?...

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Doing Good in Hard Times

As the church expanded and grew, their concern for those who were less fortunate became one of their distinguishing marks....

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God can be trusted

Let’s try two thought-experiments....

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Search in progress

Jesus' compassion and love extend even to those of us who cross our arms and mutter in response to his generosity....

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The reputation of the Father

The way people answer the “What’s God like?” question matters tremendously....

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Beneath the obedience

They stuff their frustration and pocket their pain so that everyone around them can focus on the crisis. But this comes at a great cost to their souls....

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Attracting a crowd

Jesus continues to attract people to himself for different reasons....

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Shepherding a Breakthrough

Barnabas' first response to the breakthrough was celebration....

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Positioned Perfectly

Today’s passage features unlikely heroes, positioned perfectly....

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Limits on Work

From the very beginning, God has put limits on work....

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God is always working

Through it all, God is always working...

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Merry Christmas!

For today’s devotional, we wanted to encourage you to take a few minutes to read the Christmas story out loud....

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Down for the counting

Most of the unhealthy family dynamics we experience around the holidays come from people seeking identity, purpose or security in all the wrong places....

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