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Showing posts from June, 2015

The Heart of Gospel. The Art of Jazz. Part 2

"Jazz, a unique American phenomenon, is America's classical music... As a classical music with its own standards of form, complexity, literacy, and excellence..."
- Billy Taylor, educator and jazz piano legend
Something special happens when Jazz meets the Gospel.

When the Music of Jazz marries the Message of the Gospel, the most beautiful combination in all of music happens.

The mixture creates a sound that does not lose the integrity of its form, it is 100% jazz and 100% gospel.

To illustrate that wonderful sound, I wrote a post last year recommending 5 tunes that lovers of jazz, gospel, or both should really listen to. Here is the link to that post.

Since that original post in 2014, I have completely fallen in love with five other tunes that also share the message of Christ's saving power in the art form of jazz.

Here they are. If you believe there are more tunes that also beautifully blend the gospel and jazz, please share them in the comments section at the very b…

The Federal Government's Role in Planning

Perhaps the single most important way that the federal government influences local and regional planning is through giving money with conditions attached.

This comes in the form of grants.

Since the federal government rarely directly mandates planning laws and governance (the federal government does not write our local comprehensive plans nor zoning codes), one way it can influence local planning is by awarding investments in critical areas tied to achieving broader, national goals.

The federal government influences planning by awarding grant money to communities and projects that further the national agenda. As the national agenda is wide, so the number of grants available abound.

For example, the federal government has goals to decrease carbon emissions, preserve wetlands, and improve our current infrastructure. To encourage states and localities to also invest in these priority areas, federal agencies award billions of federal dollars to projects investing in these same priority ar…

Simple Victory Part 3

Before I even begin, no, "Simple Victory" Parts 1 & 2 are not here, yet. They are coming. Stay tuned and bear with me as we work backwards from the 3 to 1.

For the past 3 weeks at church, Bishop Thomas has been preaching a series titled "Simple Victory." It is based in 1 Samuel 17 32:39. The sermons specifically focus on David's mentality going into war along with emphasis on David's attitude, speech, and total confidence in the LORD as the Ultimate Conqueror- no matter the giant.

So this morning in "Simple Victory Part 3," Bishop brought out 5 points to remember when in battle.

Plug into Your Power."The LORD, who delivered me..." (v. 37). The LORD must be our power source. No other power defeats the enemy.Choose the Right Weapons."I cannot walk with these, for I have not tested them." (v. 39). You cannot fight spiritual battles with your achievements or whatever position or title you hold. The devil is not defeated by who y…

Music Spotlight Tuesday: Beleaf Melanin- Theo's Gift

A hidden gem released in 2013 was Beleaf Melanin's Theo's Gift.

Theo's Gift is based on Beleaf's thoughts of wishing he had the life of Theo Huxtable growing up. Beleaf better explains this reasoning in his introductory track "Intro."

Beleaf Melanin is one of the best lyricists in hip-hop today. And in Theo's Gift, he keeps it 100% true to hip-hop: 808's, gritty snares, freshly-chopped samples, and hard bass.

Underlying the mix of Beleaf's creative quips, The Cosby Show clips, and top-notch production is the message of Christ as our only salvation, our only source of healing, and our complete revelation of life.

Overall, Theo's Gift is a downright goooood!!!

It is rightfully titled as a gift, too. Beleaf released this project as a free album. You know what that means, there are no excuses. Download it.

Download Here

Music Spotlight Tuesday: 4Him- Face the Nation

If you love 80's and early 90's music- like me- then you'll consider this album a jewel.

Christian quartet 4Him's sophomore album Face the Nation was released in 1991. Face the Nation consists of twelve songs embodying the message of Christ's power backed by that timeless 80's/90's sound.
There are ballads, pop-like tunes, and even jazz- a wide variety that perfectly fits 4Him's vocals and harmonies.
Here are my top 5 songs from Face the Nation and why. They are listed chronologically based on the their track numbers, not by top preference.

1. He Never Changes- The very first track on the album offers a glimpse of the musical and melodic mix that only gets better with each song. As fit for the introductory song, 4Him sings about God's faithfulness, love, mercy, and grace. As the chorus states, "He never changes, He's always the same."

2. When the Walls Come Down- This is the fourth song on the project. It begins by describing when the wa…

Tourism: An Economic Development Strategy

Tourism is when someone not from the community, spends money in the community. It is outside dollars or "new money" being spent inside the local economy.

Using this definition, tourism is not only the grand trip to Disney World or the annual vacation to a far away land. Tourism is when you spend money in a community that is not your own. Whether that is eating, shopping, or buying gas.

Now, how is that a viable economic development strategy?

Here's why. Tourism...

Supports existing businessesCreates jobs- whether at attractions or in existing businessesIncreases the tax base that helps pay for community servicesProvides a multiplier effect where a number of businesses benefitSupports complementary businesses and industriesBoosts community image and appearance
Economic development is about creating community wealth and all of those above points illustrate why tourism is so important.

10 in 10: I Didn't Get Here Alone

Thursday (6/4), I was honored be to named among Cherokee County's 'Top 10 in 10 Young Professionals.'

I am grateful, blessed, and humbled to receive such recognition.

This morning, the magnitude of this accolade finally sank in. Tears of gratitude and joy filled my eyes.

The gratitude sprang from my heart's realization that the LORD has been faithful and that He has given me all ability to do my work (2 Timothy 1:7). For that, He deserves all praise.

Then a following thought came to mind: I did not get here alone.

I have been blessed to have the help and support of some extraordinary people and organizations.

I would not be here without the advice, assistance, expertise, support, encouragement, and kindness of many others.

Those extraordinary supporters are worthy of thanks. I could not be here without your help and support.

I hope to make you all proud! 
I will try to refrain from using individuals' names and going into great detail. You know who are and this post…

God on the Job

In the workplace, when work begins, it's all about work.

For about a year or so, I struggled with being mindful of God while at work. Not so much living out the Scriptures, but reminding myself that He is with me and wants to be central to my day- no matter how exciting or mundane.
I recently completed reading John Piper's Don't Waste Your Life. If you have not read it yet, I highly recommend it. It is relevant for any stage of life.
Chapter 8 is rightfully titled "Making Much of Christ from 8 to 5." In this chapter, Piper writes about glorifying God in the workplace. 
Here are a few pointers I found helpful in being mindful of God in the workday. I hope they help you focus on Him at work as much as they have helped me.  Our aim is to joyfully magnify Christ- to make Him look great by all we do. Boasting only in the cross, our aim is to enjoy making much of Him by the way we work.One way to enjoy God's presence and fellowship is through thankful awareness that…

Here's to 28 Years

This is a big cheers and congratulations to my Bishop and First Lady who celebrated 28 years at Community Fellowship Church yesterday. Yes, 28 years!

Bishop Stephen & First Lady Thomas have been faithfully serving Community Fellowship Church for nearly 5 times the national average of a pastor's tenure at a church.

Ladies and Gentlemen, that speaks volumes...

I would argue that being a pastor is among the hardest professions in the world. There are long nights, hospital visits, jail visits, funerals, weddings, and the necessity to hear from God in order to proclaim His Word to His people- sometimes as many as 7 times a week.

Everyone expects you to be all-wise, all-knowing, all-perfect, and all-happy.

No one sees the toil of studying, praying, preparing, and soliciting help from we, the undependable. There is time away from family and forgone moments of relaxation.

I have seen it first-hand... Bishop and First Lady Thomas are my parents.

They have served Community Fellowship Ch…