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Vision & Forward Planning

At mgpc we’re striving to become a church that knows what we need to do and purposefully carries out plans to bring our aspirations to reality.

It’s pretty tiring in transition, but we are starting to see fruit and progress.

This YouTube sums up the philosophy perfectly.

HT: Kevin DeYoung


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Joy Has Dawned Upon The World – Christmas Sunday Songs

Over the next four Sundays I’ll post some Christmas songs.
Introducing new Christmas songs is like pushing honey uphill with a fork.
They only get sung for two or three weeks a year, so there’s only a very small window of time to introduce something new.
Again, because Christmas songs don ‘t get overused, no one is really sick of them. You’ll never hear someone say: ‘Away In A Manger Again’ or pester you for a new arrangement of the tune. The more traditional the better. Christian and non-Christian alike. The more traditional the better.
On that cheery note, if you’re looking for a new song for Christmas, try ‘Joy Has Dawned Upon The World’.
It’s full of Keith Getty and Stuart Townend goodness.
Strong folk music style tune.
The first and second verses are okay. The line in the second verse ‘Hands that set each star in place’ are reminiscent of Graham Kendrick’s ‘The Servant King’.
The third and fourth verses are especially strong. The lyrics in the third draw the gold/frankincense/myrrh – king/God/death parallel without the ‘We Three Kings’ theatricality. The fourth develops that with a progression that identifies Jesus as the ‘Son of Adam, Son of heaven,/ Given as a ransom, / Reconciling God to man, Christ our mighty Champion!’
A good first coming of Christ song should always reference the second coming/fulfilment of redemption. This helps avoid sentimentality.
I bought an accompanyment midi file from Worship Trax (mp3 soon available.

The lyrics: (pdf of the sheet music available at Kingsway Music)
1.
Joy has dawned upon the world,
Promised from creation:
God’s salvation now unfurled,
Hope for every nation.
Not with fanfares from above,
Not with scenes of glory,
But a humble gift of love:
Jesus born of Mary.
2.
Sounds of wonder fill the sky
With the songs of angels,
As the mighty Prince of Life
Shelters in a stable.
Hands that set each star in place,
Shaped the earth in darkness,
Cling now to a mother’s breast,
Vulnerable and helpless.
3.
Shepherds bow before the Lamb,
Gazing at the glory;
Gifts of men from distant lands
Prophesy the story.
Gold, a King is born today,
Incense, God is with us,
Myrrh, His death will make a way,
And by His blood He’ll win us.
4.
Son of Adam, Son of heaven,
Given as a ransom,
Reconciling God and man,
Christ our mighty Champion!
What a Saviour, what a Friend,
What a glorious mystery:
Once a babe in Bethlehem,
Now the Lord of history.

Stuart Townend & Keith Getty
Copyright © 2004 Thankyou Music

This YouTube is the CBC Choir, 2008 Christmas Concert. Nice orchestra and children’s choir. Bit slow for my tastes, but a good rendition of the song.


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Gambling – Organised Robbery

Gambling is part of the fabric of Australian culture.
The saying goes that Aussies would bet on two flies walking up a wall.
The Melbourne Cup horse race (a handicap event, also emblematic of Australian culture) sees millions of dollars of official and unofficial turnover.
Football calls will include the latest odds on possible outcomes for those who still want to place a bet on the outcome. (This information is provided with the cheerful encouragement to gamble responsibly)
Mission Australia informs us that ‘With over 20% of the world’s poker machines, Australia can confidently claim the title of the world’s heaviest gambling nation. Per head, we spend twice as much on gambling each year as North Americans; an annual loss of $1300 for every adult Australian.’

Phil Johnson of Team Pyro at the Pyro-Maniacs website (they’re okay, really) has produced an informative and challenging series of posts that comprehensively deal with the subject of gambling. He has been able to interact with various questions, objections and interactions along the way. Together the series is a very useful examination of all the ethical and moral dimensions of the subject. The list of posts is included below.
1. Is Gambling OK? Don’t Bet on It
2. Gambling: Some Definitions and Distinctions
3. Answering a couple of objections
4. Oh, and one more thing . . .
5. Gambling vs. Faithful Stewardship
6. Does ‘Mutual Consent’ Eliminate the Evil in Gambling?
7. A good question
8. The Sin of Putting God to the Test
9. Gambling: The Moral Antithesis of Charity


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Thanksgiving Round-Up

US folk love thanksgiving.
US Christian bloggers do too.
Scott Clark exhorts his fellow believers not to confuse the unfocused gratitude of a civil religion fixated on temporal blessings with the genuine thankfulness which Christians should have that they are part of God’s eternal and invisible kingdom here and now.
Kevin DeYoung considers Paul, the Apostle, and how often He gave thanks for the churches to which he was writing. Pastors should remember to let the churches they serve know just how grateful we are for the fellowship, prayer and support we receive.
Tullian Tchvidjian, who has had a pastorally and personally challenging year, gives thanks for pain. The experience of God’s comfort is felt in pain, and Tullian has experienced new dimensions to God’s love for him.
On the Nine Marks blog, Aaron Menikoff reminds us from Philippians 4 that our requests to God are to be accompanied by thanksgiving because in His providential care He has already given us every blessing in Christ Jesus.
The Desiring God blog offers some Thanksgiving reading by posting links to four past Thanksgiving articles.
Scotty Smith meditates on Philippians 1:3-6: “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” and gives us ‘A Prayer About Gospelicious Friends’. Mmmm… Gospelicious.
R.C. Sproul notes that the secularisation which changes thanks to God to a general thankfulness represents a dimension of the fall, a change in focus from God to self.
Darryl G. Hart provides a quote from J. Gresham Machen, who gave thanks that Paul strongly asserted the pure truth of the Gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith alone, against those who sought to dilute it by adding observance to various ceremonial laws. Hart also takes issue with a Christianity Today article that names Annie Young Frisbee’s Top 5 Movies On Thankfulness which apparently includes Raising Arizona.
On the The Gospel Coalition blog Albert Mohler seems to be asking Christians not to give thanks like atheists.
Team Pyro have been giving thanks for lots of things. Go see for yourself.

As a reward to anyone still reading, Z provides us with the Swedish Chef preparing that Thanksgiving essential, the turkey.


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Welcome John Calvin Bobblehead

Thank-you Christine.
Monsieur Calvin was a Christmas present which was reconsidered in favour of something else, apparently.
Tomorrow he’s going to the desk in my office at mgpc.


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Scotty Smith – A Prayer A Day

Scotty Smith has been posting a prayer a day on his blog.
Scotty’s bio can be read here. He’s a godly and gifted pastor, teacher and author.
Saturated in Scripture, conscious of Christian struggle, these prayers meditate on portions of Scripture, identify, personalise and confess the fallen condition focus evident within them, and then ask God for His gracious provision which enables His children to grow more like His first-born Son, the Lord Jesus. Continue reading


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National Chaplaincy Scheme Funding Extended To The End Of 2011

Having prayed and breakfasted with some of my pastoral colleagues here in Mount Gambier this morning, I found out that some of them were unaware of the weekend announcement of extended funding for the National School Chaplaincy Scheme.
Though the details are not clear just yet, 42 million dollars in additional funding was pledged by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in a speech to the Australian Christian Lobby. This additional funding is intended to pay the current placements until the end of 2011, effectively a 12 to 15 month extension.
You can read the text of PM Rudd’s speech here. He deals with a number of different issues relating to religion and life in Australia in addition to the chaplaincy announcement. It is well worth reading.

Some observations:
The long-standing support that Rudd indicates for school chaplaincy is heartening. His personal reflection in the speech about the influence that late friends of his had as chaplains is touching.
The Labour Government would not have been responsible for ‘ending’ chaplaincy if they did not extend funding. The previous government initiated the scheme with finite funding for three years. There was no continuing provision for it. This government had to source new funding to continue it. Hopefully, if the scheme continues, in some form or another, it will be on the basis of secure funding so that forward planning can be facilitated.
It would seem that extended funding will not allow new positions to be initiated at this point in time. I’d look forward to students who don’t have access to this support being able to have it in the future.
Over two years a thorough evaluation of the scheme can be conducted. This time will enable chaplains/Christian pastoral support workers to develop the role withing their school communities.