Sunday, December 09, 2007

Christmas at Parkview



Blogging frequency has been down as preparations for a busy Christmas season have increased. We had a wonderful "kick-off" this weekend for the Christmas season at Parkview. In the worship center we featured a contemporary Christmas celebration and in our chapel venue a more traditional celebration. Though my involvement in the worship center kept me from the chapel, I heard things went really fantastic. Every account from those in the worship center resounded with positive feedback. Thanks to all of you who poured yourself out to make these services a success for the kingdom.

Despite these victories, there is more yet to come with another celebration next weekend as well as services on Dec 22-23 and Christmas Eve. Your prayers are still coveted as many things continue to come together for these upcoming weekends.

As I close, I thought I'd let you all know that on Friday we were able to add "evites" for the remaining December services to our website. To invite a friend all you need to do is click on "evite" on the main page and it will instruct you how to automatically email an ecard with the artwork and information for the remaining Christmas services. Hope you can take advantage of this great tool.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A New Kind of Hymn Story

Mars Hill is using the following videos in their present message series. As you'll see, the videos are powerful mini-biographies of hymn writers. Mars Hill is far from a traditional church so I think these videos illustrate how new generations long to have a connection with the rich heritage of faith that precedes them. In a culture that is always promoting "bigger and better" people are longing for a connection with something that doesn't change, something that has powerfully transformed lives for generations. This something is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Hebrews 11 and 12:1-3 illustrates for us how important it is to look back at the "great cloud of witnesses" that have gone before us. Their testimonies encourage us to fix our eyes on Jesus the founder and perfector of our faith.







Friday, November 16, 2007

Spurgeon on Thanksgiving

But when you glorify God as God, and are thankful for everything—when you can take up a bit of bread and a cup of cold water, and say with the poor Puritan, ‘What, all this, and Christ too?’—then are you happy, and you make others happy. A godly preacher, finding that all that there was for dinner was a potato and a herring, thanked God that he had ransacked sea and land to find food for his children. Such a sweet spirit breeds love to everybody, and makes a man go through the world cheerfully.”

Charles Spurgeon
Sermon on Romans 1:20-21

Monday, November 12, 2007

Simple Church Continued

Here’s another excerpt from Simple Church a book I’ve been reading lately that totally hits the nail on the head in regard to church vision and strategy. As I stated a few days ago, the basic premise of the book is that simple churches are effective churches. Here are the four main characteristics of a simple church as defined in chapter 3. Simple churches have…
  • CLARITY: The ability of the process to be communicated and understood by people.
  • MOVEMENT: The sequential steps in the process that cause people to move to greater areas of commitment.
  • ALIGNMENT: The arrangement of all ministries and staff around the same simple process.
  • FOCUS: The commitment to abandon everything that falls outside the simple ministry process.
Some of you may have no clue or concern about how a church operates strategically, but the previous characteristics are so huge in the “big picture” of church life. By the grace of God, if we can communicate and live out God’s mission with clarity, movement, alignment, and focus I believe we will truly be maximizing our potential to participate in God’s mission to reach our community and the world with a movement of the gospel.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Altar Calls: 10 Reasons Not to Do Them

It's interesting that my friend Zach blogged about this several days ago. Lately I'd been thinking a lot about the validity of the "altar call" after hearing Kevin, a seminary friend, explain how he dealt with people who commonly requested that his church do altar calls. I used to be part of a church that did altar calls, so have lived on both sides of the practice. I must admit that the practice seemed a bit contrived. Of the handful of folks who came forward after a message, the majority of them were "regulars" who were always up there crying and repenting of something they did during the previous week. Every once and a while I have people ask for us to do them at Parkview. This is why I appreciate that Ryan, the teaching Pastor at Zach's church, recently put together 10 reasons why they don't do altar calls. Pretty interesting.
1. The altar call is simply and completely absent from the pages of the N.T.

2. The altar call is historically absent until the 19th century, and its use at that time (via Charles Finney) was directly based upon bad theology and a man-centered, manipulative methodology.

3. The altar call very easily confuses the physical act of “coming forward” with the spiritual act of “coming to Christ.” These two can happen simultaneously, but too often people believe that coming to Christ is going forward (and vice-versa).

4. The altar call can easily deceive people about the reality of their spiritual state and the biblical basis for assurance. The Bible never offers us assurance on the ground that we “went forward.”

5. The altar call partially replaces baptism as the means of public profession of faith.

6. The altar call can mislead us to think that salvation (or any official response to God’s Word) happens primarily on Sundays, only at the end of the service, and only “up front.”

7. The altar call can confuse people regarding “sacred” things and “sacred” places, as the name “altar call” suggests.

8. The altar call is not sensitive to our cautious and relational age where most people come to faith over a period of time and often with the interaction of a good friend.

9. The altar call is often seen as “the most important part of the service”, and this de-emphasizes the truly more important parts of corporate worship which God has prescribed (preaching, prayer, fellowship, singing).

10. God is glorified to powerfully bless the things He has prescribed (preaching, prayer, fellowship, singing), not the things we have invented. We should always be leery of adding to God’s prescriptions for His corporate worship.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Simple Church

OK, OK, I know my blogging has been extremely inconsistent. I have always maintained that my blogging is not motivated by maintaining high readership or by being a "quality filter" for numerous other blogs and information sources. Blogging is my opportunity to journal and share things God is teaching me. If I am busy, then blogging will be one of those things that slips off the radar on occasion. Anyhow....

Church leadership at Parkview are presently immersing themselves in several strategy books as we seek to implement our new mission and vision as a church. One of the books I have been reading is called Simple Church by Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger. I have only read the opening chapter, but it resonates very deeply with so many of the things I am quite passionate about. Today I thought I would share a brief excerpt from page 14...
The significance is that, in general, simple churches are growing and vibrant. Churches with a simple process for reaching and maturing people are expanding the kingdom. Church leaders who have designed a simple biblical process to make disciples are effectively advancing the movement of the gospel. Simple churches are making a big impact.

Conversely, complex churches are struggling and anemic. Churches without a process or with a complicated process for making disciples are floundering. As a whole, cluttered and complex churches are not alive. Our research shows that those churches are not growing. Unfortunately, the overprogrammed and busy church is the norm. The simple church is the exception, yet our research shows that should not be the case.
In an ever complicated world, people are crying out for clarity and simplicity.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Celebrity Worship

Christians (especially ones involved in worship ministry) love videos like this.



We should like videos like this because it reminds us that worship is truly about the creator and the cross. Sometimes our commercialized worship culture conditions us to, figuratively speaking, “admire those admiring the sunset” rather than admiring the sunset itself.

Here’s my problem. Today I was a guest lecturer to grad students at the University of Iowa who are in the Sacred Music program. My job was to teach them about the ins and outs of a contemporary music/arts ministry. All in all things went very well and it was a good learning experience (hopefully for them and me). I worked hard to set-up a solid biblical and strategic basis for some of the choices we make within the Evangelical church movement when it comes to communicating the gospel of Christ. Our main priority being to communicate this life changing message in a way that engages our culture. I also honestly talked about the dangers of a CCM industry that tends to make decisions based upon the bottom line of what sells. When I came to the point of the lecture where I began showing the class contemporary worship resources, I went to Praisecharts.com and Songselect and was totally surprised what I saw when I looked at those sites through the eyes of these students. On the main page of both these sites are pictures of “worship celebrities". Upon seeing these web pages some students actually laughed out loud while I said something like “yes, here are some of the worship celebrities”.

My concern is that we all get very excited about songs and media that proclaim our allegiance to the King while at the same time pandering to consumer culture by making worship leaders into celebrities. The outside world looks in and laughs at the hypocrisy.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

How to Look at Art

In this post artist Fred Sanders gives eight tips about how to get more insight in a painting. His goal is to help the "average person" maximize their experience (dare I say "enjoy their experience") when visiting an art museum.

(HT: Challies)

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Early Sunrise

These are some pics I took in front of my house the other morning. It's amazing how God can make an early morning sky ablaze with light.





Tuesday, October 02, 2007

20Somthings Care Less About Music Style

This is a pretty interesting post claiming that 20somthings are not as concerned about music styles as previous generations. Trevin Wax's thoughts don't really surprise me, but I do think they are interesting. My take-away is that we still need to uphold the values of cultural relevance, excellence, and artistic diversity, but that we also need to quit expecting music to be the magic bullet for reaching this new generation. It seems community and teaching may be their primary point of engagement. Of course, this is just one man's opinion, but I do think his view holds at least some nugget of truth. Here's a clip from Trevin's post...

- - - -

Music does not bring people to church. People bring people to church. At this year’s Southern Baptist Convention, I was distressed at how many times I heard pastors mention “updating our music” as a way to reach my hard-to-reach generation.

Sorry to burst the bubble. But changing the music is completely irrelevant.

I talked to a handful of 20somethings who dropped out of church for a few years and are now back and engaged. When I asked them about the worship style of our church (we’re a mix between blended and traditional), the answers were all different. Most of them indicated that they would rather we sing less and get to the preaching quicker. “That’s what we’re there for,” said one. Others mentioned how much they loved the organ. A couple mentioned that the “hymns” could be hard sometimes, but that they wanted to learn them anyway, as they felt they were important.

My generation is musically fragmented. Some of my classmembers like Country music. Others like P.O.D. and Disciple. Some are into soft rock. One loves anything Classical. The majority like folksy rock, but there’s no consensus. The Iraq war veteran in our class (tattooed and tough) has a soft spot for the Carpenters, Celtic chants, and the crooners of the 40’s and 50’s. iTunes and iPods. We are a generation of many styles.

The idea that a “contemporary” music service is going to reach my generation just makes me laugh. No one in my class is there for the music. They are all there for the relationships and the Bible teaching. Not that the music is unimportant… it’s just not central.

(HT: Vitamin Z)

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Only Hope on You Tube

I stumbled across this video on youtube the other day (so far the video has over 100,000 hits). It is Charles Edward's piano duet arrangement of "Only Hope", the song made popular by the Christian group "Switchfoot". I am linking to it because it is a really nice arrangement that got me thinking about the power of a great melody. The best songs are a marriage of great lyrics and a great melody. At least that's where it's got to start. I'd love to see more song writers today (especially in Christian music) committed to creating really great melodies for their music.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Desiring God National Conference

My lovely wife and I have been enjoying attending the Desiring God National Conference entitled “Stand: A Call for the Endurance of the Saints”. All of the sessions have been fantastic. A written summary and the mp3 from each session are posted within an hour of the session. Tonight Dr. Helen Roseveare spoke. Helen is an 82-year-old physician who has been single all her life and for much of it, served as a missionary in the Congo. Earlier in her ministry in the Congo she was kidnapped and held for 5 months. Throughout that time she was beaten and raped numerous times. After getting rescued she was sent back to England for medical attention and forced, against her wishes, to stay there for one year. Once she was permitted, she returned to the Congo to reach these people God had laid upon her heart with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There is just something so beautiful about an 82 year old woman with snow-white hair speaking about living your life to the end, serving Jesus with all of your heart. Truly inspirational! Her session as well as all the sessions are being posted here on the blog. I’d encourage you to check out the sessions when you have time.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Nebraska Senator Sues God

My friend Chad just sent this my way. This was in today's Omaha World Herald. As a former Nebraskan I can attest to the fact that Senator Ernie Chambers has always been quite the character. Read below...

- - -

LINCOLN (AP) - Saying that God has caused "fearsome floods ... horrendous hurricanes, terrifying tornadoes," Nebraska's longest-serving state senator says he is suing the Almighty to make a legal point.

State Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha filed a lawsuit against God in Douglas County District Court last week, saying that God has made terroristic threats against the senator and his constituents, inspired fear and caused "widespread death, destruction and terrorization of millions upon millions of the Earth's inhabitants."

He's seeking a permanent injunction against God.

Chambers, a self-proclaimed agnostic who skips morning prayers during the legislative session and often criticizes Christians, said he filed the lawsuit to show that anybody can file a legal action against anybody for any reason.

That, he said, was recently illustrated by a federal lawsuit he said triggered his lawsuit against God.

Tory Bowen, 24, sued a state judge who barred the words "rape" and "victim," among other terms, in the trial of Pamir Safi, who Bowen says sexually assaulted her. Bowen said Lancaster District Judge Jeffre Cheuvront violated her free speech rights.

Chambers said Bowen's lawsuit is inappropriate because the Nebraska Supreme Court has already considered the case and federal courts follow the decisions of state supreme courts on state matters.

"This lawsuit having been filed and being of such questionable merit creates a circumstance where my lawsuit is appropriately filed," Chambers said. "People might call it frivolous but if they read it they'll see there are very serious issues I have raised."

U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf, in an order last week, expressed doubts about whether Bowen's lawsuit "has any legal basis whatsoever" and said sanctions may be imposed against Tory Bowen, the accuser, and her attorneys if they fail to show cause for the lawsuit.

The Associated Press usually does not identify accusers in sex-assault cases, but Bowen has allowed her name to be used publicly because of the issue over the judge's language restrictions.

Cheuvront declared a mistrial in Safi's trial in July, saying pretrial publicity made it impossible to gather enough impartial jurors.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Bulletin Bloopers

OK, I know a few of these are as old as the hills and a few cheesier than a Packer's game, but there were some good ones in here worth sharing. Thanks for the forward mom.
  • Weight Watchers will meet at 7 PM at St. Martin's Church. Please use the large double doors at the side entrance.
  • The Fasting & Prayer Conference includes meals.
  • The sermon this morning: "Jesus Walks on the Water." The sermon tonight "Searching for Jesus."
  • Our youth basketball team is back in action Wednesday at 8 PM in the recreation hall. Come out and watch us kill Christ the King.
  • Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It's a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Don't forget your husbands.
  • The peacemaking meeting scheduled for today has been canceled due to a conflict.
  • Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our community.
  • Smile at someone who is hard to love. Say "Hell" to someone who doesn't care much about you.
  • Don't let worry kill you off - let the Church help.
  • Miss Charlene Mason sang "I will not pass this way again," giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.
  • For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.
  • Next Thursday there will be tryouts for the choir. They need all the help they can get.
  • Barbara remains in the hospital and needs blood donors for more transfusions. She is also having trouble sleeping and requests tapes of Father Jack's sermons.
  • The Priest will preach his farewell message after which the choir will sing "Break Forth Into Joy."
  • Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.
  • A bean supper will be held on Tuesday evening in the church hall. Music will follow.
  • At the evenin g service tonight, the sermon topic will be "What Is Hell?" Come early and listen to our choir practice.
  • Eight new choir robes are currently needed due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.
  • Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.
  • Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered.
  • The church will host an evening of fine dining, super entertainment and gracious hostility.
  • Potluck supper Sunday at 5:00 PM - prayer and medication to follow.
  • The ladies of the Church have cast off clothing of every kind. They may be seen in the basement on Friday afternoon.
  • This evening at 7 PM there will be a hymn singing in the park across from the Church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.
  • Ladies Bible Study will be held Thursday morning at 10 AM. All ladies are invited to lunch in the Fellowship Hall after the B.S. is done.
  • The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday.
  • Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 PM. Please use the back door.
  • The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare's Hamlet in the church basement Friday at 7 PM. The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.
  • The Priest unveiled the church's new tithing campaign slogan last Sunday: "I Upped My Pledge - Up Yours!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Worship and Arts Vision

This evening I was asked, with the Pastors over every ministry in the church, to give a 10-minute summary of how our new vision statement will impact our ministry area. I took advantage of the time to share a number of things that have been on my heart and mind likely. In retrospect I realize I over intellectualized things a bit, but hopefully it is to some benefit. Here is the first half of my talk narrowed in specifically on the “movement of the Gospel” language within our vision. The question I was trying to answer was how the indicatives of the Gospel should be reflected in the Worship and Arts ministry. Please comment with any constructive feedback you may have. I appreciate the input.

- - - -

Parkview’s Vision is…

Parkview strives to be a movement of the Gospel through the University of Iowa, Iowa City area, and the world by developing servant leaders through personal conversion, community formation, and cultural transformation.

To start I would like to consider the statement “movement of the Gospel” and how this vision distinctive is reflected within the Worship and Arts ministry at Parkview. The statement “movement of the Gospel” is the indicative statement of our vision. Theologically speaking, a Biblical indicative is defined as a statement about…

a. Who God is
b. What He has done in Christ
c. Who we are in Christ

It is in these indicatives of the Gospel that much of what we do in the Worship and Arts ministry resides. In this regard, let’s take a moment to consider the songs we sing, the art we create, the ordinances we observe, and the community we experience.

THE SONGS WE SING
(Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16)


Let’s first consider the songs we sing… From “Crown Him with Many Crowns”, to “In Christ Alone”, to “Before the Throne of God Above”, to “Everlasting God”, to “Uncreated One” it is our commitment to sing songs that center on the indicatives of the Gospel. Now and in the future our music, art, use of technology, and service programming must be unwaveringly committed to upholding a Gospel-centered, Christ-centered, Cross-centered focus in all we do. Though our forms and styles must change and continually adapt to the culture, we must never back down from the central focus of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

THE ART WE CREATE
(Romans 1:20, Exodus 35-37)


Now, let’s consider the art we create. Good art displays the nature of God both in His creative power and in His character. From the Old Testament narrative to passages like Romans 1:20, we see how God’s creation of nature, the arts, and music can be a testimony of who He is and of His creative nature woven in and expressed by the hearts of men and women. This is why those of us in the Worship and Arts ministry try to excellently express worship through a diversity of different Arts forms such as music, dance, drama, technology, and visual art. The diversity and excellence of our art both reflects the essence of our creator while also making our artistic expressions relevant to the culture we are trying to reach.

THE ORDINANCES WE OBSERVE
(Mark 14:22-25, Matthew 3:13)


Let’s consider for a moment the ordinances that we observe in obedience to Christ’s teachings. These ordinances represent the indicatives of the Gospel, what God has done in Christ and who we are as a result. These ordinances are the Lord’s Table and baptism. Over the last couple of years, those of us in the Worship and Arts ministry have worked with Pastor Jeff to increase the emphasis on the ordinances within our worship services.

With the Lord’s Table we have tried to use creativity regarding how communion is performed within the service, our goal being to make communion a memorable event within each service it is observed. We have also started making our baptism celebration a part of the main worship service by using pre-recorded video testimonies followed by live baptisms in the chapel which are simulcast to the worship center.

We see both baptism and the celebration of the Lord’s Table as immensely valuable, encouraging, and unifying activities commanded by Christ to take place within the community gathering of believers.

THE COMMUNITY WE EXPERIENCE
(1 John 3:1, Colossians 3:12-17)


As we consider the indicatives of the Gospel in regard to who we are in Christ, we realize that the gathered church in our community worship service is nothing less than a family and that the community we experience flows from this family identity. In response to this, we are working to prioritize community participation in all aspects of the service from our singing, to the reading of scripture, to the times we greet one another, to every aspect in the service where participation and community can and should be experienced.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Food Drive Update

Today we finished up the food drive following church services. It was a very encouraging and unifying experience for the church family. I loved walking around the grocery store and seeing people from Parkview everywhere filling their green colored grocery lists for the Iowa City Food Pantry and The Spot our ministry for at-risk youth. The people that worked at the Coralville HyVee were amazed by how busy the store was with people buying up food for those in need. What was more surprising to me was the three truckloads full of food you can see below. We've got a lot of sorting to do this week! Thanks to all of you who helped with organization and collecting the food items. If you didn't get a chance to hear Josh's message this weekend on doing justice, be sure to check it out at the Parkview website this week. It should be up by Monday afternoon.



Doing Justice

This weekend Josh Malone, our Pastor of Young Adults is delivering an excellent message on doing justice in our world. In it he discusses the purpose for doing justice and why, as believers who have been saved by the gospel, we should view evangelism and justice (i.e. social justice) as two wings on a plane. Obviously, this kind of balance makes us unrecognizable to a world anxious to ask if our church is a Republican or Democrat front. The gospel should definitely make us unrecognizable to either affiliation.

Following the message we encouraged the congregation to apply the message immediately by swinging by one of two area grocery stores to buy groceries for Iowa City’s food pantry or our ministry to “at risk” youth at our southeast location “The Spot.” I’ll post in a few days with updates on how much was donated.

Josh’s comments regarding political affiliations reminded me of this quote form Oz Guinness in his book “The Call”. It is a thought-provoking quote on the importance of avoiding the politicization of the church.
The problem of politicization is the lack of “tension.” Called to be “in” the world but “not of it,” Christian engagement in politics should always be marked by tension between allegiance to Christ and identification with any party, movement, platform, or agenda. If that tension is ever lacking, if Christian identification with a political movement is so close that there is not any clear remainder, then the church has fallen for a particularly deadly captivity… But to the degree that Christian activism in public life becomes a politicization of the church – an identification with political movements on either right or left without critical tension – to that degree Christian activism will betray Christ and stoke the fires of its own and the church’s rejection. There are signs that an American equivalent of Europe’s antipathy to politicized faith is already beginning to build. Few things are more fateful for the future of faith in the modern world than to see that this development stops.




Here's a few pictures of our food drop-off locations.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

New Trends in Church Music

This was posted on Tim Hughe's blog a few days ago. Tim is the guy who wrote "Here I Am to Worship" and "Beautiful One" to name a few. Pretty interesting.

- - - -

Below is an extract from an American Newspaper objecting to new trends in church music.

“There are several reasons for opposing it. One, it’s too new. Two, it’s often worldly, even blasphemous. The new Christian music is not as pleasant as the more established style. Because there are so many new songs, you can’t learn them all. It puts too much emphasis on instrumental music rather than godly lyrics. This new music creates disturbances making people act indecently and disorderly. The preceding generation got along without it. It’s a money making scam and some of these new music upstarts are lewd and loose.”

Who were they attacking? It wasn't Delirious? or Matt Redman. They were attacking the hymn writer Isaac Watts, famous for writing ‘When I survey,’ in 1723! The old hymns once upon a time were radical and cutting edge. Our music and our songs must also always be pushing new ground. Let's go for it.

Piper on Cultural Engagement in Worship

The frightening freedom of worship in the New Testament is a missionary mandate. We must not lock this gospel treasure in any cultural strait-jacket. Rather let us find the place, the time, the dress, the forms, the music that kindles and carries a passion of the supremacy of God in all things. And may our communion with the living God be so real and the Spirit of God so powerfully present that the heart of what we do becomes the joy of all the peoples we are called to reach.

John Piper, “Our High Priest is he Son of God Perfect Forever” (Sermon)

(HT: Worship Notes)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

End of the Rainbow

So it's true. There really is a pot at the end of the rainbow.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Evangelicals and Art

Forbes recently did a feature on the upsurge of the arts in Evangelical churches. It's an interesting read. Below are some clips from the article.

- - -

Evangelical unease with the visual arts dates to the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century. Andy Crouch, editorial director for Christianity Today's Christian Vision Project, which examines how evangelicals intersect with the broader culture, notes that Protestantism traces its origins to an era when noses were snapped off sculptures in a rejection of Catholic visual tradition while the word of God was elevated.

Attitudes began to change in the 1960s and 1970s, when Christian theologian Francis Schaeffer and Dutch art historian Hans Rookmaaker challenged believers to emerge from their cocoons and engage the culture, including in the arts.

Now, Crouch said, those ideas are resonating with a younger generation of believers who live in an image-saturated culture. They sense a disconnect worshipping in churches bare of anything that's visually arresting.

"The very parched nature of evangelical visual culture is making people who have grown up in this culture thirsty for beauty," he said…

"If we as Christians believe that creativity and imagination is a gift from God, why have we neglected it for so many years?" said center director Steve Halla, a former Dallas Theological Seminary professor and a woodcut artist.

(HT: Taylor)

Monday, August 20, 2007

Parkview Anniversary Celebration



Parkview friends, I hope you are all planning to join us for our 75th Anniversary weekend celebration on September 15-16. On Saturday the 15th we’ll have a huge BBQ on the east side of the church facility. There will be activities for people of all ages including inflatable games, dunk tank, sand volleyball, singing (hymn sing at an early portion and youth band later in the evening), etc… One portion of the evening will involve Jeff and others from the past sharing thoughts and memories about Parkview’s history.

On Sunday the chapel venue will be joining the worship center for three services. The times will be 8:00, 9:30, and 11:00 am. Because we are anticipating large crowds that weekend, it is imperative that as many as possible attend the 8:00 and 11:00 am service in order to free up space during the 9:30 am service. There will be overflow seating in the chapel but we are hoping to avoid using it if possible.

Finally, we are trying to round up a HUGE choir for the Sunday services, so please spread the word. We’ll have a sign-up, music, and CD’s available in the lobby for those interested in singing. Rehearsals will be September 5, 12, 14, and 15.

Stewardship of Creation

The Cornwall Declaration is an environmental statement crafted by an interfaith council including several leading Evangelicals. It's been around a while, but this is the first time I was able to read the statement. In line with yesterday's post on the redemptive qualities of our physical universe, I thought I would share these "belief statements" from the declaration.

- - - -

Our common Judeo-Christian heritage teaches that the following theological and anthropological principles are the foundation of environmental stewardship:
  1. God, the Creator of all things, rules over all and deserves our worship and adoration.
  2. The earth, and with it all the cosmos, reveals its Creator's wisdom and is sustained and governed by His power and loving kindness.
  3. Men and women were created in the image of God, given a privileged place among creatures, and commanded to exercise stewardship over the earth. Human persons are moral agents for whom freedom is an essential condition of responsible action. Sound environmental stewardship must attend both to the demands of human well being and to a divine call for human beings to exercise caring dominion over the earth. It affirms that human well being and the integrity of creation are not only compatible but also dynamically interdependent realities.
  4. God's Law–summarized in the Decalogue and the two Great Commandments (to love God and neighbor), which are written on the human heart, thus revealing His own righteous character to the human person–represents God's design for shalom, or peace, and is the supreme rule of all conduct, for which personal or social prejudices must not be substituted.
  5. By disobeying God's Law, humankind brought on itself moral and physical corruption as well as divine condemnation in the form of a curse on the earth. Since the fall into sin people have often ignored their Creator, harmed their neighbors, and defiled the good creation.
  6. God in His mercy has not abandoned sinful people or the created order but has acted throughout history to restore men and women to fellowship with Him and through their stewardship to enhance the beauty and fertility of the earth.
  7. Human beings are called to be fruitful, to bring forth good things from the earth, to join with God in making provision for our temporal well being, and to enhance the beauty and fruitfulness of the rest of the earth. Our call to fruitfulness, therefore, is not contrary to but mutually complementary with our call to steward God's gifts. This call implies a serious commitment to fostering the intellectual, moral, and religious habits and practices needed for free economies and genuine care for the environment.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Becoming Human

For various reasons, evangelical Christians managed to give the physical universe a bad wrap. Comments like “it’s all going to burn” were frequently used in my younger Christian days. The reality is that much about the physical universe is, by God’s common grace, good and beautiful. Years ago I remember a Christian song which sang, “Why should the devil have all the good music?” I think a similar song could be sung, “Why should the devil have all of creation?” It is true that cancer, pollution, aging, and relational strife are all signs of the futility creation became subject to with the fall, but it is also true that Christ is presently and for all eternity in human form, that we physically participate in His sacrifice with the bread and wine of communion, and that natural creation testifies of God and His creative power. Followers of Christ are not only being renewed spiritually, but are being prepared for a physical renewal. Some of this renewal can be experienced now and other aspects will be fully realized in the new creation.

I’ll conclude with this quote from Gerhard Forde from page 30 in the book Christian Spirituality...
Instead of viewing ourselves on some kind of journey upward toward heaven, virtue and morality, our sanctification (growing in Christ likeness) would be viewed more in terms of our journey back down to earth, the business of becoming human, the kind of creature God made.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Gospel Series



This weekend at Parkview we're starting a new mini-series on the Gospel. Josh Malone, our Pastor of Young Adults, and Nate Hobert, our Pastor of College Ministries, are teaming up for this one. The series promises to include many important and impacting messages for our Church. The following is the schedule:

The Gospel in Your Heart
August 18-19: Nate Hobert

The Gospel in Your Community
August 25-26: Josh Malone

The Gospel in Your World
September 1-2: Josh Malone
Communion Weekend

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Mighty Furminator

A friend recently recommended that Carrie and I try the Furminator for our 2 year old black lab who sheds generously. Today after about an hour of working on “Amos” we ended up filling a box full of his hair. Supposedly this little tool cuts down shedding up to 90 percent. If you’ve got a shedding dog or cat, you need to get yourself the Furminator!



Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Suffering and Tragedy

A few days ago I posted a video from John Piper with images from the bridge collapse in Minneapolis. The message clip was from Romans 8. In this clip Piper was teaching how God subjected creation to “futility” in order to give us a taste of His disdain for sin and to create a longing for the glory of eternity with Christ and the “redemption of our bodies”.

There was a very interesting comment from my good friend John regarding how it is we are to explain the intentional role God plays in suffering to a person who is an unbeliever/seeker. What a great question! Some of the scriptures which talk about God hardening hearts (Ex 9:13), creating objects of wrath prepared for destruction (Rom 9:22), or subjecting all of creation to futility (Rom 8:20) are hard to understand, even for the Christian and especially for the non-Christian. The following is my attempt to wrestle a bit with this issue.

I recognize that even among Christian’s God’s role in tragedy is debated. Some Christians profess that the only reason we are living under the curse is because God gave man a free will and man sinned. In other words the curse was not an act of the Father in response to our sin, but rather a chain reaction or “knee jerk” that just happened as result of sin. Genesis 3:17-19 shows that the “curse upon the earth” was the result of Adam’s sin; however, it is also clear in the text that God had an active role in initiating the curse. This is confirmed very clearly in Romans 8:20. So, if God’s participation in calamity is clearly articulated in the Bible, why do so many deny it? I believe the primary answer is because it doesn’t seem rational to believe that an all-loving God would subject his children to suffering. It is far more rational (and palatable) to say it is completely our own fault because of our sin. The only problem with this type of thinking is, it reduces God to a state of helplessness and passivity that is contrary to what we read about Him in the scriptures.

So why did God subject all of creation to futility? This is a very difficult question to answer. Unfortunately when we study the Bible we find many realities about God that are difficult to understand. Take for example…
  1. How can God be 3 and also 1? The Trinitarian nature of God is enforced throughout the scriptures and is a complete mystery. To believe He is only one being is rational, and to believe he is three independent beings is also rational. Despite these realities, the scriptures give us no choice but to believe that which is irrational, He is both three and one.
  2. How can God be sovereign while also giving man a choice in His salvation? Romans 9 teaches that God creates some people to live eternally with him and others to be condemned to hell. Romans 10 teaches that people have the ability to choose salvation by faith. So which is it? Is God sovereign or is man responsible? To choose either one independent of the other would be a very rational thing to do; however, the scriptures don’t give us that option. We must believe that which is humanly irrational, namely that God is sovereign and man is responsible.
As we parallel these cases with the topic at hand, we can understand how for God, tragedy is both the exertion of His will and the result of sin.

If I was speaking with an unbeliever I would probably start by explaining the role sin had in the fall of humanity and the curse all creation is now living under. I would then explain how the scriptures teach that God also initiates and works through tragedy for several reasons. Here are a few…
  1. God’s glory is magnified in the depths of suffering. It is like the consonance and dissonance in a beautiful music composition. The resolution is made more beautiful when shown in contrast to dissonance.
  2. Suffering illustrates how desperately we need restored fellowship with God and how this restoration will one day be fully realized in all of creation by those who trust in Him.
  3. For the believer, suffering is actually an act by which we are refined in our faith. (James 1:2)
  4. As Piper taught, suffering illustrates for us the way our sin grieves the heart of God. Our response to this grief should be to surrender to the awesome and matchless grace of Jesus which removes our sin from us and clothes us in the righteousness of Christ.
In closing, I want to remind all of us where the scriptures lead us after considering the mysteries of God. Romans 11:33-36 says “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”

* I understand that this is not a comprehensive discussion on the subject of tragedy and suffering. Please feel free to leave your thoughts or comments regarding this issue.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Why the Bridge Collapsed?

Here's a video from Desiring God ministries with footage from the recent bridge collapse set to a message by Piper. Pretty moving and challenging.



(HT: Desiring God Blog)

Saturday, August 04, 2007

I Hate School Shopping

If you’re like me, you hate those long lists of school supplies that every class is required to buy before the start of the school year. For years we would go from store to store trying to find all the supplies in picked over and super busy school supply departments. Last year we tried purchasing the majority of our supplies from Staples.com and it’s been awesome! If you purchase up to $50 of supplies (no problem if you have 2 or more kids) then shipping is free. They are very prompt about shipping out the materials and for the kids it’s like Christmas in August when all their supplies come in. So, anyone else have some tips for getting school supplies without the headache of crowded shopping centers?

Friday, August 03, 2007

The Man in the Shadow of Adultery

Tonight I read a powerful essay from Internetmonk on Adultery. It is written to men and is a must read for you guys. We all need a wake-up call on this issue, so if you are a married guy please take the time to read it and embrace the transforming power of the gospel that will strengthen you to remain faithful in your covenant marriage. Below is the excerpt and here is the entire essay.

- - - -

David is looking at Bathsheba, and he is sexually stimulated. He sends messengers to her home. She arrives and he orders those men away. He takes her to his chamber.

At what point is this mysterious? Nathan was right: The rich man took the poor man’s one sheep while awake, sober and rational.

Men, that sexual stirring you feel when engaging a co-worker in intentional conversation? That laughter over the slightly off-color humor? That extra email, voice mail or visit to the cubicle? That unnecessary phone conversation? That intentional proximity to a lunch table? That extra attention to a problem? That intentional “pastoral” call? That willingness to listen? That second glance? That touch on the arm? That nod and smile? Those assurances of friendship? That promise to “pray” and be there?

What in hell are you doing? (And I mean that. Don’t edit for the church ladies, please.)

If the above paragraph seemed a bit obsessive, I’m sorry. By age 50, you should be able to write it yourself. Actually, you should be able to write a much longer one.

There is more that could be said about the later actions and feelings, when the other party is joining in, secrets are shared, plans are made, more lies are told and the whole business takes on a life of its own. But by that time, the mortal damage has often been done. I want to gain your attention now, early on, when there is much more hope for genuine repentance and healing.

You know what is happening, and you know that it is the edge of something completely dangerous. You are taking steps- baby steps, but steps- away from the one-heartedness you promised. You promised to be a one woman man. She is counting on you to keep that promise. She is counting on you to be better than other men; to be devoted to her through everything. And now you are looking, talking, returning, even touching, with another woman in mind. You have put yourself above your marriage. You have put the momentary excitement, the eventual fantasy, the immoral boost to the ego above your love for your wife.

We Pick Up Poop

In true entrepreneurial spirit my oldest son recently attempted to launch a dog poop removal business. Before you say "that is ridiculous" take a moment and google "pet waste removal". Some people are making a lot of money removing pet waste!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Gospel Coalition Media

Recently Josh Malone and I attended the first Gospel Coalition Conference at Trinity Seminary. The Gospel Coalition is the start of an association of churches (maybe better stated a movement of churches) intent upon making the Gospel of Jesus Christ central. If you are interested hearing a bit about this movement you can download these videos posted recently by the "reformissionary". You can also go to the coalition site and click on media.

- - -

Tim Keller

What do you see yourself doing in The Gospel Coalition? | m4v
What is the state of the pulpit in America today?| m4v
How does preaching affect how christians see culture?| m4v
What do you tell pastors about their family life? | m4
What ways can people learn from your teachings | m4v

Don Carson & Tim Keller

What started The Gospel Coalition? | m4v
What makes The Gospel Coalition different? | m4v
Assessing The Gospel Coalition | m4v
How were the leaders of The Gospel Coalition gathered?| m4v
What is the future of The Gospel Coalition? | m4v
What threats and challenges face The Gospel Coalition? | m4v
What causes fragmentation in evangelicalism today? | m4v

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Tim Hughes Worship Leader Tips

Tim Hughes the guy who wrote "Here I Am to Worship" had a few worship leader tips on his blog recently. There are a few good nuggets within. Below is a little segment on the importance of dynamics.

- - - -

We need to embrace musical dynamics

There can be a danger in our sung worship that we sing songs in the same way, same tempo and same musical arrangement. Pretty quickly it becomes very boring and people disengage. Let’s encourage each other to be creative and thoughtful in our song arrangements. It’s great to have the band rock out for a while, but after a number of songs there’s a danger that it can become over-bearing. Songs with just an acoustic guitar or just the piano - even just acapello. Let’s have songs that are loud and fast, songs that are powerful and emotive mixed with songs that are tender and quiet.

By working on the dynamics of the band we can keep things much fresher and more interesting. Constantly ask yourself - what is the song communicating lyrically and then ask yourself, does the music communicate a similar message. By really thinking through the musical dynamics it keeps us from doing the same old, same old.

(HT: Vitamin Z)

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Gospel Centered Family Mission

This week at Covenant Seminary in St. Louis was truly revolutionary for me in many ways. One of the things I learned was what Dr. Douglass called the Johnathan Edwards principle where the indicatives empower the imperatives. I won't explain the principle right now but will say that the concept, as well as the focus on our union with Christ, convicted both Carrie and I that it was time to update our families mission and values. I post them welcoming your feedback to help refine them. They are a work in progress. I also hope they can be an encouragement to those of you who have not yet done a family mission and values. Our mission and values have been so helpful to us as we've tried to raise our children to love the Lord.

MISSION

To embrace our union with Christ and one another for the purpose of glorifying God, growing by His grace, and making the message of the Gospel known to all peoples in both word and action.

VALUES
  1. Love others more than yourself: A new commandment I give to you… just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. John 13:34
  2. Be humble and teachable: I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:1-2
  3. Always look for ways to serve one another: For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. Galatians 5:13
  4. Respect and honor authority: Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Romans 13:1
  5. Encourage one another: Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: "The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” Romans 15:2-3
  6. Work hard, be on time, and do all things well: Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23-24
  7. Be grateful no matter the circumstance: Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
  8. Be honest: Put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Ephesians 4:24-25
  9. Keep your mind, body, and spirit pure: Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
  10. Resolve conflicts peacefully: Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. Titus 3:1-2
  11. Trust in God: Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7

Friday, July 27, 2007

The Shortest Concert Ever

The band "White Stripe" performed a pre-concert show of one note. C# to be exact. Here's the article explaining it all. Thoroughly unusual, but interesting.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Luther on Our Union with Christ

Here's another quote from my Spiritual Formation course that is in true Martin Luther style. His sharp language is intended to powerfully contrast our sinfulness and the unbelievable reality that Christ took our sin on himself and, just as shocking, that he put upon us all good things and His holiness. This is known as the "double imputation" and has huge implications for how we live as Christians. More on that later...
“Christ, the rich, noble, and holy bridegroom, takes in marriage this poor contemptible and sinful little prostitute, takes away all her evil, and bestows all His goodness upon her! This means that what Christ possesses belongs to the believing soul, and what the soul possesses belongs to Christ. Thus Christ possesses all good things and holiness; these now belong to the soul. The soul possesses lots of vices and sin; these now belong to Christ.” Martin Luther

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Sovereign Grace Music

Some of you at Parkview and on this blog remember my former "plug" for Sovereign Grace's CD "Valley of Vision". That project is one of my favorite worship CDs. It is filled with a bunch of great worship ballads and the killer congregational song "Let Your Kingdom Come". If you don't have it, you should get it. Anyhow, Justin Taylor had a recent post on some new stuff coming from Sovereign Grace Music that I thought I would also pass on. I'll be honest that some of SG's music doesn't really fit my style, however, the "Valley of Vision" project convinced me that it's always worth taking a look at what this gifted ministry is producing. Be sure to check em out.

- - - -

From Sovereign Grace Music:
The newest CD from Sovereign Grace Music will be our first father-son project. Titled In a Little While, the CD features twelve songs written and sung by Mark Altrogge and his oldest son, Stephen. It is planned for release in August.

You may already be familiar with some of Mark's songs—"I Stand in Awe," "I'm Forever Grateful," and "In the Presence," to name a few. You may also have heard some of Stephen's songs on recent Sovereign Grace Music projects, such as Worship God Live and Valley of Vision. But you may not know that Mark has been senior pastor of Sovereign Grace Church in Indiana, Pennsylvania, for 25 years. His example of humble service and heartfelt worship inspired his son Stephen to play music and write songs for God's glory. In a Little While reflects Mark and Stephen's considerable talent, but it also represents of years of service in the local church.

The songs on In a Little While range from the upbeat, electric-guitar driven "At the Cross" to "Whatever My God Ordains Is Right," a gentle rendition of a seventeenth-century hymn. You can listen to song samples, and read the lyrics for all twelve songs, at our website.

You can also preview the CD with a free download of the song "All I Really Need." To download this MP3 file, visit our website and follow the instructions in the upper right corner of the page. We hope you enjoy this preview of In a Little While.
They also provide information about their new remix CD:
When we introduced Asleep in a Storm at our recent New Attitude conference, it sold out almost immediately. Our first remix CD, Asleep in a Storm takes well-known Sovereign Grace songs and refashions each one into something new, while keeping the original lyrics and vocals.

We're pleased to announce that this CD is back in stock at our online store for $10.00. If you haven't yet heard it, you can listen to song samples at our website. (For this CD only, a bulk discount is available: 30 or more copies for $8.00 each.)

Plus, you can download a free MP3 of the song "Across the Great Divide" at on our online store. (To download the song, you'll need to log in or follow the easy instructions to create an account.) Upcoming CD from Mark Altrogge and Son—Download a Free Song Now.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Zone

This week I'll be throwing up some "highlights" from a class I am taking this summer at Covenant Seminary on Spiritual Formation. Here is Dr. Phillip Douglass' adaption of a quote by Marcus Buckingham regarding "the zone". The point of the quote is to illustrate the importance of us serving in our area of giftedness and how serving within our area of giftedness gives us a deep sense of fulfillment. Clearly the quote shows that most people are not experiencing this in their life and ministry.
The goal is to be engaged in our ministry, which means being so involved in your service to the Lord that you lose track of time and forget about your difficulties. Some call this "the zone” and Gallup research has found that 82% of American workers fail to experience it even once a week. Marcus Buckingham, The One Thing You Need to Know

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Arts Ministry BBQ



Word out to all Parkview Arts Ministry participants.....

You and your families are invited to attend a picnic at Lake McBride on Sunday, July 29, from 4:00 to 7:30 p.m. Please bring a salad, side dish or dessert to share. The rest of the meal and table service will be provided.

Lake McBride offers a variety of recreational opportunities. There is a swimming beach, biking/hiking trails, fishing, paddle boat rentals, playgrounds...or just hang out! We are also asking if anyone has badminton, croquet, bocce ball or volleyball equipment we could use to bring it along. We will send out the name of the shelter we have reserved in a later email.

Please R.S.V.P. (let us know either way!) by July 26 to Kristen Kufeldt kkufeldt@parkviewchurch.org or DeDe Parker ltnews@iowatelecom.net

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones on Worship

“If I were to ask you what was the greatest activity in which the people of God could ever engage; if I were to ask you what was the highest ambition that any man or woman created by God could ever have; if I were to ask you what would remain when every other activity in this world has fallen away- what would you say?”

The answer is this: it is to offer to God acceptable worship. This is why God has formed the universe and created human beings. This is why God has sent His Son to redeem a people. This is why God is sanctifying and purifying the Church of Jesus Christ and preparing them for glory. It is in order that He might have a people who will bring Him acceptable worship. And when you focus it down to your own life, this is why God has made you. This is why God has given you a tongue and lips and a voice; this is why God has created every faculty of your being, that it might be engaged in the proper worship of Almighty God.

David Martyn Lloyd-Jones (sermon quoted by Eric Alexander)

(HT: Worship Notes)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

What is Your Theological Worldview?

I do apologize for the recent randomness of my posting. My seminary class, 75th Anniversary planning, and numerous other issues have kept me from writing or reading blogs of late. Recently Zach Nielsen and then John Carlson posted their results from taking this theological worldview quiz. I was curious enough to take the quiz myself. Below are the results. I'm not surprised. You can take your quiz here.

- - - -

You scored as Reformed Evangelical, You are a Reformed Evangelical. You take the Bible very seriously because it is God's Word. You most likely hold to TULIP and are sceptical about the possibilities of universal atonement or resistible grace. The most important thing the Church can do is make sure people hear how they can go to heaven when they die.


Reformed Evangelical


75%

Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan


68%

Fundamentalist


50%

Neo orthodox


50%

Emergent/Postmodern


50%

Charismatic/Pentecostal


32%

Classical Liberal


25%

Roman Catholic


21%

Modern Liberal


11%

What's your theological worldview?
created with QuizFarm.com

EFCA Worship Leader Network

The Evangelical Free Church of America just launched a new website for the EFCA worship leaders network. Included with this site is an email list you can subscribe to in order to participate in an email messaging system. It appears the goal of the site is to resource and network worship leaders. It’s too early to tell, but this may be a great resource for those of you out there who lead worship.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Evil, Suffering, and Samuel Barber

Today, while eating breakfast, my oldest daughter asked why God created people if He knew that some would go to hell. Nothing like a little light breakfast conversation! Rather than go right to a study in Romans 9, the Lord gave me an idea.

I told Hannah I would answer her question in a few minutes after having her listen to something. I went to the computer and downloaded Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber and following breakfast, had her sit and listen to the majority of the song. Before she listened I asked her to close her eyes and try to visualize whatever the music made her feel or think about.

Once the song was over, I asked her to describe what she felt while the music played. In short she shared that the opening represented dancing, that the middle sounded like a great battle, and that the end represented peacefulness. At that point I tried to explain the principle behind Romans 9:22-23 in musical terms where consonance or resolution (God’s glory) can only be fully appreciated and understood if presented in contrast to dissonance or tension (wrath, evil, suffering). After my brief explanation Hannah’s questions were satisfied and she went about the rest of her day.

I share this experience because it really impacted me. Good music is an amazing illustration of this great mystery. The suffering and evil (the dissonance) around us accentuates the brightness and beauty (the consonance) of God’s glory. There is no question that music illustrates the powerful means by which God is glorified even in the context of a world subject to sin and condemnation.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Semper Reformanda

Semper Reformanda is an ancient maxim that means always reforming. It was an important term during the reformation when Martin Luther nailed his 95 thesis to the door of the Wittenberg church. The theses were an appeal, calling the church to reform its beliefs and practices to that which is consistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ and the scriptures. The idea behind Semper Reformanda is that the church is called to continually reform, submitting itself to the headship of Christ and the teaching of the scriptures.

The reason I wanted to meditate on this term briefly in this post is because the perpetual need for reformation is something resisted both in the life of the individual Christian and in the life of the church. It wasn’t that long ago that I fully realized how wrong I was earlier in life when I believed that there was some arrival point when the “dust would settle” and I would actually feel as though I’d fulfilled my calling and purpose in life and ministry. I have since found that my expectation was completely false. There is always going to be struggle, hardship, humbling, learning, challenges, and change. When I came to accept this reality, I quit looking for “Disneyland” and began trying to understand the immense value of the journey. With this realization my discontent relented and I actually began to see the challenges before me as opportunities to grow in Christ and depend upon Him. Of course, my admission to the need for personal reform is a confession that I have not and will never “arrive” in this lifetime. Despite this I am so thankful to now know that this life’s journey will continually lead me to the deep well of joy realized in my weakness and found God’s supply.

Within the church Semper Reformanda must also be embraced. Too often leaders in the church erect doctrinal and methodological fences that become untouchable and unquestionable. I am not suggesting that there aren’t foundational orthodox beliefs that must be fought for and maintained; however, so much of our resistance to change is often grounded in an unwillingness to be humbled and submit ourselves to the calling to always reform, always adapt, always submit, and always depend. Semper Reformanda!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Sally Morgenthaler Quote

Hi friends. I am still on vacation, but thought I would throw up a quote from Sally Morgenthaler that was posted as a comment on Nancy Beach's recent post regarding the future of worship. Nancy is the director of the Arts ministry at Willow Creek Church. The conversation is in regard to how worship services must reform in order to reach our post-modern, post-Christian culture with the gospel.
It is time for the big questions. We cannot afford to just keep doing what we've always done. That has been Willow's message for thirty years: the need for reformation. Now those of us who have been faithful at the contemporary, entrepreneurial model - especially praise and worship - must ask again if what we are doing is really transforming lives and expanding the kingdom.

People who know me will say that I'm not into throwing out the baby with the bathwater. For instance, in worship, there is much the liturgical or classic Christian expressions can offer to us and I called for a fusion of old and new in Worship Evangelism. So what I am not saying is, "Get rid of worship." Yet, how does a missional, "embedded" perspectiive (i.e., being the church outside the building) inform what we do each week? I believe we are at an incredibly exciting juncture where an out of the building focus will re-make - re-form - our corporate gatherings in ways we never imagined. For worship services to be the overflow of our lives in the kingdom instead of the destination - now that is a vision of beauty and faithfulness worth all the wrestling and disequilibrium we can stand. Change is never easy. But the faithful church is always the changing church. The reforming church.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Vacation

Friends, I am heading out on a vacation tomorrow and will be on the road for 10 days. Please know that posts will be a bit more intermittent for a while. An early June vacation is in order since the rest of the summer will be a bit of a whirlwind as we prepare for Parkview’s 75th Anniversary Celebration at Hancher Auditorium. Yipee!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

God Remembers No More

For my summer course at Covenant Seminary I am reading Jerry Bridges book Transforming Grace. It’s been a great read so far. At one point Bridges highlights Isaiah 43:25 regarding God’s forgiveness for the Israelites sin with the golden calf saying “I, am he who blots out your transgressions, and remembers your sin no more.” So, what does it mean that God remembers their sins no more? Does he literally give himself amnesia? Does he literally keep no record of wrong?

Well, to assume God has erased his mind of any memory would put into question his omniscience, so that is likely not a conclusion that is consistent with Scripture. His keeping no record is likely our best understanding; however, 2 Corinthians 5:10 seems to allege that some kind of record of good and evil is kept for all people (believers and unbelievers) to account for at the judgment seat.

I believe we can conclude that, for the believer, Jesus keeps no record of our sin in a legal sense. This would be consistent with Colossians 1:21-22 where the Bible says we are presented holy in the sight of the Lord and free from any accusation. This legal declaration of “not guilty” is our justification before God. Though God is completely aware our continuing good and evil deeds, the Christ follower can rest assured in their legal standing before God.

So, if we are legally innocent, why does 2 Corinthians 5:10 say that we will need to give account for our good and evil in this lifetime? I’ll hopefully post on that tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Willow Arts Conference

Willow Creek is actively blogging their Arts Conference. They've got video highlights, summary, and discussion. Some interesting stuff.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Gilmore Picked to Atlanta Braves

Our own Jon Gilmore, son of Jeff Gilmore our Senior Pastor, was selected in the draft today to play with the Atlanta Braves. This is the highest pick for a high school player in Iowa history. Way to go Jon!

Here is an excerpt from the Press Citizen website:

"The Atlanta Braves selected City High baseball player Jon Gilmore with the 33rd pick Thursday in the Major League Baseball draft. Gilmore, a senior infielder for the Little Hawks, is believed to be the earliest Iowan taken in the draft’s history. Gilmore signed with Wichita State in November, and the Braves flew him down in May for a workout at Turner Field. Gilmore just missed the first round by three picks and was taken by the Braves in the compensatory round."

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Blogging Tips

Abraham Piper recently posted these blogging tips on the Desiring God blog. They look pretty good. Since more and more people are blogging, I thought it might be beneficial to pass on a portion of Abraham's thoughts....

- - -

Be yourself.

You have ideas, and people are reading because they’re interested. So be you. (When I say this to myself, I don’t mean that everything I think is gold—I just mean that I shouldn’t pretend to be someone else, whether it’s gold or not.)

Here’s how I test myself: After I’m done writing, I pretend I’m telling the same content to someone. If there’s no way I’d speak it the same way I just wrote it, then I’m probably not using my own voice.

Write less.

Don’t write any more than is necessary to make your point.

This has nothing to do with whether or not long posts are good. People are just unlikely to read them, good or not.

Here’s how I test myself on this one: After I’m done writing, I go back and pretend I have to pay $100 for every word. Seriously.

And if I’m ever inclined to pretend I have a hefty vocab, I make myself pay per letter.

Write to be scanned.

Compose your posts so that your point is accessible to those who are not reading word-for-word, because most people aren’t.

Here’s a list of what will usually make text scannable:

· Putting your point at the beginning.

· Composing short, one-point paragraphs.

· Organizing with headers and sub-headers.

· Setting lists apart with bullets or numbers.

· Highlighting important words and phrases with bold or italics (but not all caps).

Use common keywords.

Vocabulary affects visibility; so usually it’s good to write with words that people are likely to search when they are interested in your topic. Using the most normal word, especially in your title, even if it is less interesting, will help more people find your post when they’re searching.

For instance, if someone is curious about the Bible, they will probably search “Bible,” not “Scripture” or “God’s Word,” even though these are perfectly good synonyms.

Link a lot.

With discretion, link to anything that will support your content.

It's good when a link itself gives some idea what you will find at the other end. So, as a rule, it’s most user-friendly to connect links to meaningful words rather than words like “this” or “here.”

· Least helpful – Go here:

http://rightreason.ektopos.com/

· Pretty unhelpful – You may be interested in this.

· OK, but could be better – “Beckwith discusses his return to Catholicism. Read it here.

· Most helpful – “Beckwith discusses his return to Catholicism.”

Also, linking does not mean condoning; so don’t be afraid to send people to sites you disagree with. If you discuss the KKK, it may be useful to link to their site. (If only to show how lame it is—my goodness!)

Don’t tease with titles.

The best headlines are both eye-catching and content-rich. They are interesting and they state the main point of the post.

  • Bad: “Big News at Crossway!”
  • Good: “Justin Taylor Is Voting for Clinton”

Allow exceptions.

Guidelines are not commandments. Break these as necessary—but do it on purpose.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Teacher of the Year Dave Bousfield

Congratulations is in order for a long time volunteer in the vocal ministry at Parkview, Dave Bousfield. Dave has been named Iowa's "Teacher of the Year" by the Association of American Educators. Dave is more than a great teacher, he is a follower of Jesus Christ and it's awesome to see how his faith has shaped his commitment to make a difference in the lives of children. Thanks for your great example Dave! Below is a clip from the Press Citizen website:
David Bousfield, a Lemme Elementary resource teacher, has been named the AAE-PEI Teacher of the Year by Professional Educators of Iowa.

The award, given by the national education association, Association of American Educators and PEI, is presented based on the application submitted by the teacher's administrators and fellow teachers.

Lemme Elementary Principal John Bacon called Bousfield "the ultimate professional" who "exemplifies the Golden Rule and six pillars of character." First-grade teacher Susan Thrams said Bousfield is a valued colleague and one of the "most respected leaders" in the school, while parents Jim and Michele Weno said Bousfield has brought their daughter to an educational level that is "a true success story."

Bousfield has been a resource teacher at Lemme since 1979.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Chronicles of Tech Ninja Sensei

Adam Carmichael our new Technical Director now has a blog called "Chronicles of Tech Ninja Sensei". You need to read his first post to understand why a technical ministry blog can be associated with life as a Ninja. Adam is a great addition to our team. For words of wisdom (or in the very least words of entertainment) be sure to check out his blog here.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Bill Gates Touch Screen Table

I couldn't resist linking to the newest innovation coming out from the PC side of the world (sorry Mac people). This video is a promo of the new touch screen table that Bill Gates and his Microsoft cronies are marketing to commercial interests. I'm sure they are unbelievably expensive, but am also sure we'll all be able to do this with our kitchen table in a few decades.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Christ Centered Ministry and the Gospel Coalition

In Worship by the Book, Kent Hughes recounts a story about E.V. Hill, former pastor (now deceased) of Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church.
E.V. told of the ministry of an elderly woman in his church whom they all called “1800” because no one knew how old she was. On unsuspecting preachers “1800” was hard because she would yell, “Get him up!” (she was referring to Christ). After a few minutes of the messages, if she didn’t think it was happening, she would again shout, “Get him up!” If a preacher did not “Get him up!” he was in for a long hard day. Dear old “1800” was no theologian, but her instincts were sublime. True worship exalts Jesus. It cannot fail to “Get him up!” because both testaments lift Him up. There is nothing more important, and more salutary for the church, than Christ-centered worship.
I share this story because it relates to the focus of the conference I attended with Josh Malone (our Pastor of Young Adults) several days ago. The Gospel Coalition is the attempt by an association of pastors and theologians to create impetus toward a gospel centered movement within the church.

This coalition grew, in part, out of the observation that the Evangelical world is highly fragmented. There are those who are clinging to an overly individualistic and overly systematic approach to evangelism/mission and others who are focused upon community and social justice but are living out these values in the context of eroded orthodoxy. This coalition believes there is a third way that can excellently fulfill the values of personal conversion, community formation, and cultural renewal within a context that is both Biblically faithful and culturally relevant.

To some, the idea of a coalition like this appears to be too theological and academic. In response to this, I have come to realize that there is a deep-seated worldview in many of those leading in today’s churches that keeps the church from being missionally effective. This worldview, in many cases, is grounded in some erroneous theological assumptions that were formed through tradition or in some faulty aspect of seminary education. If we try to make changes in the church without addressing the worldview that is grounded in false theological beliefs, then we will continue to hit brick walls in our attempt to bring about needed reformation.

I am very thankful that many of these issues are being wrestled with at Parkview and in the universal church. In the words of “1800” we must not neglect to “Lift him up” in all we do. I believe a gospel centered movement has the potential of ending the gridlock that fragments us and, by God’s grace, helping us to more effectively fulfill God’s mission.

For a more detailed summary of what this movement is about you can check out Josh’s summary on his blog here. The Gospel Coalition site will have conference video/audio and other documentation available by mid-June.