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.

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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.

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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.

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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 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.

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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!