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.

(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.

(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.

(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.

(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.