Saturday, April 28, 2007

Spiritual Gifts

Today in my theology study, while discussing divine revelation, the issue of spiritual gifts came up. Here is a concise list of gifts found in the scriptures. Do you know your spiritual gift?

1 Corinthians 12-14
  • (Vs 8-10): Wisdom, Knowledge, Faith, Healing, Miracles, Prophesy, Discernment, Tongues, and Interpretation.
  • (Vs 28): Apostleship, Prophesy, Teaching, Miracles, Healing, Helps, Administration, and Tongues.
Romans 12:1-8
  • (Vs 6-8): Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Encouraging, Helps, Leadership, Mercy
Ephesians 4:1-16
  • (Vs 11): Apostleship, Prophesy, Evangelism, Pastors, and Teaching.
1 Peter 4:8-11
  • (Vs 9): Hospitality
Other Possible Gifts
  • Exodus 31:1-6: Craftsmanship
  • Parables, Psalms: Creative Communication
  • Matthew 5, Proverbs: Counseling

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

National Community Church

National Community Church is a very cool church in the D.C. area that is effectively reaching young people in an age when churches are really struggling with that demographic. Here is a link to some custom videos they've use in services. They are great quality videos that could serve as some great creative inspiration.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Choosing A Hymn

When I went to the Worship God 06 conference last year, I was really convicted regarding how I go about choosing new congregational worship songs. To be quite honest, like most worship leaders out there, I tend to be drawn to the hot new worship songs that have great melody a powerful poetic line. I seldom take the time I should to really analyze the lyrics to see what theological messages they are sending. This is something I am definitely working on and one of the reasons I felt convicted to get going on my masters at Covenant Seminary.

Bob Kauflin recently had a great post on criteria for choosing hymns. It's interesting to me how people assume that all hymns are rich in theological content just because they are hymns. The reality is, a hymn has the same propensity for poor theology as any other song.

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Hymns aren't a category of worship song that is above critical evaluation. They aren't divinely inspired songs that we can just insert into a slot. So I've come up with a few questions we can ask when thinking about "doing a hymn."

  1. What do the lyrics actually mean? Is the emphasis more on biblical truth or aesthetic beauty? Both are important, but truth trumps aesthetic considerations. Are the lyrics progressive in nature? If so, where do they begin and end? Do the lyrics take a theme and state it different ways? What specific theme or themes does the hymn address?
  2. What do the lyrics actually say to people? Is it overly familiar? Do people understand all the words? Do people like the hymn for the sound or the truth? For instance, "Battle Hymn of the Republic" is a stirring hymn, but I don't think I'd ever use it on a Sunday morning, since it seems to mix Scriptural themes with national ones.
  3. What context will surround the hymn? Hymns are generally weighty compositions lyrically speaking. Is there time before or after a hymn or group of hymns to reflect on the truths that you've sung?
  4. What is the emotional effect of the hymn? Some hymns are triumphant, others reflective. Some are somber, others jubilant. Hymns can express everything from repentance to joy to God's holiness to God's mercy. Simply saying we should do a hymn is like saying we should go shopping. "For what?" should be the obvious question. Similarly, asking "why" we should sing a hymn will help us to use them more effectively.
  5. How will the hymn be accompanied musically? The same hymn can sound very different when the accompaniment is changed from a pipe organ and piano to an electric guitar and drums. And there’s a world of variety in between those two extremes. Thank God for musicians who are taking many of the great hymns and revitalizing them through fresh musical arrangements. Passion and Indelible Grace are two that come to mind. There are many others.
  6. Should the melody be updated? Since melodies aren’t sacred, it’s perfectly legitimate and often advisable to create a new setting for the words of a hymn. When we do this, though, the goal is to use music that emphasizes the lyrical meaning, not detracts from it.

Any church will benefit from doing more hymns. But it's always a good idea to understand why

Friday, April 20, 2007

What is Right Belief?

I was raised as a Christian believing that right belief comes from the scriptures alone. If there was an issue that appeared to be “in the gray” then I would attempt to make a final determination from a broader evaluation of biblical principle. After reading Chapter 2 in “The Mosaic of Christian Belief” by Roger E. Olson I came to more fully understand the idea that there are other factors outside of scripture that can aid in making conclusions about right belief.

One representation for this is found in the Wesleyan Quadrilateral which teaches that proper Christian belief is shaped by four main sources and norms: Scripture, tradition, reason, and experience. Tradition represents what Olson often refers to as the “Great Tradition” which is the “consensus of beliefs held in common by the early church fathers and the Reformers of the sixteenth century as expressed in common by the ecumenical creeds and Reformation confessions of faith.” (p 57)

I am not going to take a lot more time to unpack the quadrilateral in this post, but do want to make clear that scripture is still the primary and final authority (sola scriptura) in determining belief; however, we are likely in error when we do not take into account tradition, reason, and experience when making determinations about right belief. Next time you wrestle with an issue of controversy such as women’s and men's roles in the church, gifts of the Spirit, or the inerrancy of scripture go to the scriptures first, but also take into account tradition, reason, and experience as you seek to confirm proper belief.

For a more “scholarly” take on this issue check out this post by Josh Malone on First Theology or take the introductory course in the Theology program, which will likely begin in September.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Easter Worship

Today we took some time as an Arts staff team to do some focused evaluation on our Easter weekend of services. As always, there were some things that could have been better but, all things considered, we were very pleased that almost 2,500 attended services and several gave their lives to Christ.

For those of you interested, here is the song list from our service. The song list was diverse for the sake of engaging a diverse crowd and it is probably obvious from the list that we started the service contemplative by focusing a little more intentionally upon the cross. At the end we closed with the final four songs as a powerful resurrection medley. The strongest tunes were without a doubt the “By His Wounds” opener and closer “Mighty to Save”, which is a must for Easter! You can click on the highlighted titles to hear the songs on Itunes.

By His Wounds
How Great is Our God
Christ the Lord is Risen Today
All the Earth Will Sing Your Praises (Brewster)
Grace Like Rain
Mighty To Save

From New York to London

This came from a funny email two people sent me today. Just follow the directions and you’ll get a chuckle out of it.
  1. go to
  2. click on "maps"
  3. click on "get directions"
  4. type New York in the first box (the "from" box)
  5. type London in the second box(the "to" box)& hit "get directions" on the same line
  6. scroll down to step #23

Monday, April 16, 2007

Trivial Pics

For those of you who check this blog regularly, I do apologize for the recent lack of creativity, premeditation, and engagement in posts. It has been a particularly busy season at the church. On top of my ministry demands, my Perspectives class is now in its final weeks with a large project due and final exam just around the corner. I am looking forward to having time in a few weeks to actually read for fun and spend more time pondering and writing about issues more intentionally. In the mean time I thought I'd post a few pics that seemed somewhat humorous to me. The first on was on the girltalk blog recently under the caption:

"What to wear when your wife pulls out the "honey-do" list." Look closely. This is more than just a couch.

This next pic may only appear funny to me and my wife (you had to be there). We opened the grill a few days ago with the hopes of grilling some juicy chops only to find a large nest in the grill. I cleaned out the nest and postponed the grilling due to a broken part I discovered in the process of cleaning. Yesterday I opened the grill again to find that the birds had, over the course of a few days, built another large nest. I decided the best deterrent would be to leave the grill open for a few days. Immediately after returning to the kitchen ma and pa bird returned to the grill with a great deal of confusion as they discovered their nest now exposed to broad daylight. You can see them in this picture at opposite ends of the grill with dad looking up at the missing roof and mom peering through the nest at her husband with a "what the heck?" expression. For some reason Carrie and I had a good laugh over this one. What can I say, I guess we were hard up for some levity...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Podcasts Worth Listening To

On the Reformissionary blog, Steve McCoy recently posted a bunch of audio resources that he listens to regularly. My first reaction is, where do you get the time?!?!? To see his entire list, go here. I've put some of the more interesting listening suggestions below and added a few of my own at the end.

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Audition (Mars Hill Audio): Ken Myers in an NPR style commentary on culture and Christianity through Myers' commentary and interviews. This is a free spin-off of the Mars Hill Audio commentaries.

Catalyst: Covers both church leadership issues and cultural issues through interviewing Christian leaders, authors, pastors, etc. I really enjoy the Catalyst podcast, though I find myself skipping the first several minutes of pre-interview conversation about Catalyst Conference stuff and other random bits. The interview is the meat, and it's consistently thoughtful and engaging.

Church Leader Insights: Pastors Nelson Searcy and Kerrick Thomas of The Journey Church in NYC talking together about church leadership, church growth, church planting, systems, evangelism, etc. A lot of info of what has and hasn't worked for them. I always come away with insights for pastoring and ministry, even if you don't approach ministry in quite the same way as these guys.

Covenant Worldwide: At least 15 free seminary classes are available on the topics of biblical theology, OT and NT, apologetics and outreach, the Reformation, life and letters of Paul, and more. What the heck are you waiting for?

Fermi Project: Discussions with leaders on culture, the future, the Church and the Gospel. It's hosted by Catalyst guys Gabe Lyons and Andy Crouch. It's only on episode three, but I've enjoyed it tremendously so far. A great, concise podcast.

Internet Monk Radio: Michael Spencer's thoughts on theology, ministry, his critics, yadda. The worst aspect of this podcast is his love affair for the Cincinnati Reds. Yuck. But if you can get past that, Spencer can often deliver thoughtful insights on a variety of issues. Warning: If you don't know Spencer and his online writings, some of this won't make much sense. It's for the devoted.

National New Church Conference: Interviews with conference speakers dealing with church and church planting. Have learned a lot from this podcast and highly recommend it for church leaders.

Practically Speaking: North Point boys (Andy Stanley, et al) on the Seven Practices of Effective Ministry. It's a "dead" podcast in that there are no new episodes, but their seven podcasts I have found very helpful as a pastor. I've listened to them more than once, and will listen again.

Resurgence: Mark Driscoll's missional resource that includes talks from various conferences and lectures pertaining to ministry and theology. Lots of good stuff here.


Filmspotting: A weekly podcast from Chicago featuring new movie reviews, top 5 lists, interviews and insightful film talk with Adam Kempenaar and Sam Van Hallgren. It's also found on Chicago Public Radio. Ugh, this is a great podcast. The best movie podcast I know of. Even when I disagree with a particular take on a movie, which isn't often, these guys are still compelling in their arguments. Worth every second.


Capitol Hill Baptist: Pastor Mark Dever is one of the most important living Southern Baptist pastors/preachers, and a pastor who I have had a chance to talk with a bit. He has seen a remarkable change over the years of his church in D.C. Dever is obsessively expository in his approach. If you want to know the Bible, this is a great way to digest it. Dever is also well known for tackling very large sections of text, including single sermons on entire books of the Bible.

Cornerstone Simi: Pastor Francis Chan is fairly new on my radar, but I have enjoyed what I have heard so far.

The Journey - St. Louis: Pastor Darrin Patrick is a friend and has seen some great things happen after planting in St. Louis. A good preacher, and a young leader worth watching.

Mars Hill Church, Grand Rapids: Pastor Rob Bell is a controversial writer and speaker in the emerging church movement. I find him very engaging and biblical, though we would surely differ at points. He challenges me with living the Gospel.

Mars Hill Church, Seattle: Pastor Mark Driscoll is a different sort of controversial writer and speaker in the emerging church movement. He has been very influential in my ministry and life.

Village Church: Pastor Matt Chandler is SBC, Acts 29, and one of the best young preachers I've heard. Probably my favorite younger preacher to listen to over the last few months. Some people trip over a few of his stylistic traits at first, but please persist and you will find so much worth hearing.

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The following are the podcasts I am presently subscribing to...

Creative Synergy: This is a podcast by a couple of technical ministry gurus. They focus on arts, programming, promotions, technology, etc... There are only four episodes so far, but they are good ones.

Desiring God Radio: Piper, Piper, Piper... what else can be said.

Mars Hill Church Sermon Video: This is the video version of the Mark Driscoll podcast.

Healthy Living Radio: Dr. Cooper and his medical cronies share healthy living tips and discus recent findings in medical journals.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Church For Men Only

I can’t help but pass on these oddities on occasion. This church in Daytona Beach, Florida is a men-targeted church hoping to counter the trend of men being less likely to show up to church on Sunday. They meet in a gym, talk about men’s issues, and are out in one hour. The large time clock for basketball games is used to make sure the preacher’s message is delivered in 15 minutes or less.

Of course, some of you might appreciate your pastor being on a preaching time clock with a loud buzzer, but a church for men only? Something is wrong with this picture. To read the whole article, go here.

(HT: Challies)

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter Services

Thanks to everyone who helped make this year’s Easter 07 services such a wonderful success! I received many comments from those attending the service who were moved and encouraged by your offerings of worship. After weekends like this I always praise the Lord for the immense privilege I have to work with such amazing and talented people. Thanks for making your lives available to serve the Lord in this way. I know many seeds were planted in the lives of those in attendance.

Below are a number of the pictures taken by photographer, Lloyd Bender. Thanks Lloyd! He took over 100 pictures during our technical rehearsal on Saturday. You can view all of them at this website and actually order prints from there directly.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Sir Brian Mawhinney at Parkview

On April 21st and 22nd we have the distinct privilege of having Sir Brian Mawhinney speak in our services at Parkview Church. Mawhinney was a long time member of British Parliament who retired from his seat in 2005. He is presently the chairman of the Football League which is the professional football (meaning soccer) league in Wales and England.

Mawhinney actually attended Parkview (as the Coralville E-Free) back when he was doing post-doctoral studies at the University of Iowa. He is known in England as a man who takes his faith very seriously. Undoubtedly, he will be a fascinating guest. If you are not in the Iowa City area, the message audio will be available online at our website following the weekend he speaks.

You can read more about him here.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Resurrection Is Restoration Not Innovation

If we understand the incarnation to mean that Jesus was God in humbled action, then the exaltation of the resurrection is not some new thing that was conferred upon Jesus to vindicate him after his crucifixion, or to reward him for his obedience. The resurrection is restoration, not innovation: No glory could be given to Jesus after the incarnation that did not first belong to Christ, the Eternal Word, before the incarnation. The resurrection is not something newly added to Jesus but something newly made evident to us.

Laurence Stookey, Calendar: Christ's Time for the Church, 37

(HT: Ron Man Worship Notes)

Easter Week Schedule

It’s Wednesday, but Sunday’s comin! We had a fantastic rehearsal last night in preparation for Easter. I am confident we have a very moving weekend of worship and celebration ahead of us. Last year we had 2,600 attend our Easter services. Undoubtedly many of those were visitors just checking their Easter attendance box. Join me in praying that God would move in the hearts of all who attend. Pray that believers would be encouraged in faith and obedience and that those who don’t know the Lord would start a new relationship with Him. The following is a schedule for the Easter week.


Friday, April 6
  • 5:00-5:45 pm Sound Check
  • 6:00 & 7:30 pm Services

Tuesday, April 3
  • 7:00-9:00 Band, Strings, & Vocal Team
Wednesday, April 4
  • 6:00-8:00 Choir
Saturday, April 7
  • 3:00-4:15 Sound Check
  • 4:30 & 6:00 pm Services
Sunday, April 8
  • 6:45-7:15 am Sound Check
  • 7:30, 9:00, & 10:30 am Services

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Don't Date Your Vets Daughter

I'm definitely hoping to borrow one of these from my veterinarian sister when my girls turn 16.

ESV Web Resources

The ESV is a recently released translation of the bible that has become the primary text used in services at Parkview. A few days ago I took some time to look over the English Standard Version’s website and found some great resources I thought I’d pass on.
  • First of all, if you are a Firefox user (you really should try it if you haven’t already) then you can get a toolbar add-on here that allows you to search the ESV right from your browser. You can also keyword or passage search the version here or go to the popular site and simply select ESV as your translation.
  • The ESV site has numerous bible reading plans where you can either check into the website every day, have the passages emailed to you, or have them sent to your aggregate reader (if you are using one… i.e. Googlereader). I have started doing my Bible reading for my quiet time this way. We’ll see how it works out. So far, I am really enjoying it. (FYI: If you want to click on the “listen” link above each passage, you can actually hear the passage spoken out loud).
  • There is a daily devotional and memory verse system that can be sent out to you or accessed via their site.
  • Finally, there are a lot of ways the ESV site can serve you. Just go and check it out here!
One of the things I really appreciate about the ESV leadership is their desire to get the Word out and in the hands of people. I am thankful for the tremendous resource this is for Christ followers around the globe.

Monday, April 02, 2007

The Easter Lily

Ever wonder where the Easter lily came from? Here is some interesting background on the Easter lily from

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The Easter Lily. For many, the beautiful trumpet-shaped white flowers symbolize purity, virtue, innocence, hope and life—the spiritual essence of Easter.

History, mythology, literature, poetry and the world of art are rife with stories and images that speak of the beauty and majesty of the elegant white flowers. Often called the “white-robed apostles of hope,” lilies were found growing in the Garden of Gethsemane after Christ’s agony. Tradition has it that the beautiful white lilies sprung up where drops of Christ’s sweat fell to the ground in his final hours of sorrow and deep distress. Churches continue this tradition at Easter time by banking their altars and surrounding their crosses with masses of Easter Lilies, to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ and hope of life everlasting.

Since the beginning of time, lilies have played significant roles in allegorical tales concerning the sacrament of motherhood. Roman mythology links it to Juno, the queen of the gods. The story goes that while Juno was nursing her son Hercules, excess milk fell from the sky. Although part of it remained above the earth (thus creating the group of stars known as the Milky Way), the remainder fell to the earth, creating lilies. Another tradition has it that the lily sprang from the repentant tears of Eve as she went forth from Paradise.

The pure white lily has long been closely associated with the Virgin Mary. In early paintings, the Angel Gabriel is pictured extending to the Virgin Mary a branch of pure white lilies, announcing that she is to be the mother of the Christ Child. In other paintings, saints are pictured bringing vases full of white lilies to Mary and the infant Jesus. St. Joseph is depicted holding a lily-branch in his hand, indicating that his wife Mary was a virgin.

The legend is told that when the Virgin Mary’s tomb was visited three days after her burial, it was found empty save for bunches of majestic white lilies. Early writers and artists made the lily the emblem of the Annunciation, the Resurrection of the Virgin: the pure white petals signifying her spotless body and the golden anthers her soul glowing with heavenly light.…

A mark of purity and grace throughout the ages, the regal white lily is a fitting symbol of the greater meaning of Easter. Gracing millions of homes and churches, the flowers embody joy, hope and life. Whether given as a gift or enjoyed in your own home, the Easter Lily serves as a beautiful reminder that Easter is a time for rejoicing and celebrating.

During the Victorian era, however, the very conspicuous stamens and pistils were removed because they were seen as overt symbols of sexuality that might move the congregation to impure thoughts (Sara Williams).

The Resurrection

The resurrection was a kind of cosmic explosion that reverberated in all directions. It gave the followers of Jesus a new understanding of the present, but also of the past and of the future. Through the resurrection (and that alone) the cross, that instrument of capital punishment by the hated Romans, ceased to be an enigmatic embarrassment and became the central symbol of the faith.

Laurence Stookey, Calendar: Christ's Time for the Church, 37