Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A New Way to Read

This is the future of books: Buy any book you want at half price, from anywhere, and it will be in your hands in one minute. Truly amazing. Here is Wired magazines review of the new Kindle 2 Reader by Amazon.

Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God

I am reading this little book by C.J. Mahaney entitled, "Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God" in preparation for speaking with my wife at the March 4 Hearts-In-Touch meeting at Parkview. The topic of our talk is on how to teach your children about sex. Carrie and I don't feel like we've cornered the market on how to most properly instruct children on sexuality, however, we are very passionate about God's design for healthy sexuality and are passionate about our children understanding how it is God intends sex to be enjoyed for His honor and glory. Usually Christians approach sexuality in a prohibitive way (i.e. the dangers of fornication and adultery). Certainly this must be done, but sexuality must also be understood for the beautiful intention God had behind its creation and enjoyment in the context of marriage. The more our children understand the preciousness of healthy sexuality, the more I believe they will embrace the importance of glorifying God with their body (1 Corinthians 16:20).

For those married folk out there, I highly recommend this little book. It is written to men, but does have a portion at the end dedicated to women. It paints sexuality in a holistic and Biblical way that is very encouraging and will undoubtedly strengthen the marriage of the sincere reader. You can link directly to the book through the banner to the right of this post.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Getting to the Heart of the Matter

As I mentioned a few posts ago, Matt Chandler gave a talk recently at the Desiring God conference that was really good. I know a lot of you seldom have the time to watch an entire message on the computer, so I thought I would throw up this shorter sound bite from the message he gave. This clip cuts totally to the heart of an issue that I am so very, very, very passionate about.

I am so concerned that a lot of evangelical teaching, books, methods, etc.... try to fix people's problems by only addressing surface issues. A lot of churches fall into this trap when they have "practical" teaching series that only zero in on "practical" topics and "practical" solutions. This can, at times, be like putting a band-aid on cancer. It may make the person look and feel better at the time, but it doesn't really address the problem at its root. In varying degrees the "7 steps to success" mentality can be found in churches of every denomination, from fundamentalist to charismatic so this really isn't a problem limited to one brand of church. Christless Christianity is something we must all be concerned about. To see an example of how Paul addressed the issue of people being set-free from sin and healed in Christ, read Ephesians 2. It is that example that Chandler is calling us to uphold as we try and proclaim the grace of God to our congregation and world in need.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday Funny

I guess I'm hurting a bit right now for meaningful content. None the less, this is one of those silly forwards that I receive on occasion. It's a pretty fascinating exercise that, in the very least, illustrates our brain's ability to automatically correct certain things for us. Supposedly only 55 of 100 people have no problem reading the following words. I did find that I could read it almost perfectly with no pauses. Not sure what this says about me, but anyway, enjoy.

- - -

Cna yuo raed tihs? Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can.

i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Adolescents in Music Do Better

I saw an interesting little tidbit on the church relevance blog regarding the advantages of keeping our kids in music. I remember in a philosophy class in college discussing how Socrates emphasized the importance of mathematics and music in the development of children. Here is an article about recent findings that seems to agree.
A new study in the journal Social Science Quarterly reveals that music participation, defined as music lessons taken in or out of school and parents attending concerts with their children, has a positive effect on reading and mathematic achievement in early childhood and adolescence.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Conflict Resolution

In today's all-staff devotional time, Pastor Dave Foster shared some principles on dealing with conflict from Ken Sande's book Peacemaker. Sande's treatment of the systems surrounding conflict and steps toward conflict resolution seem to be quite effective and Biblically grounded. I am excited about getting more familiar with this book and the editions focused on helping children to also understand how to deal with conflict in a healthy way. Below is a description of the book and some recommendations from monergism.com.

Description: In The Peacemaker, Ken Sande presents practical biblical guidance for conflict resolution that takes you beyond resolving conflicts to true, life-changing reconciliation with family, coworkers, and fellow believers.

"'Blessed are the peacemakers,' said Jesus. With crystal clarity this manual lays before us the wisdom that leads humble souls into that blessing."
--J. I. Packer, author of Knowing God

"Of people alive and writing today, I know of no more reliable guide for peacemaking in church and family than Ken Sande."
--John Piper, pastor, Bethlehem Baptist Church

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Should Kids Have Cell Phones?

My oldest daughter has a cell phone and is often found texting with her friends. We have an "open phone" policy where she knows that her texts are not private and that her mother and I can and will read them regularly. This article by Russell Moore poses some interesting ideas about kids and cell phones. Though I am not planning on taking the cell phone away from my daughter, this does make me think more carefully about how and when she and my other children should posess and use cell phones. Here's a clip from his post:
A pre-teen or a teenager with unrestricted cell-phone usage (or Internet or television consumption) is being placed in a very, very difficult place of temptation. The company of that young man or woman is now away from the scrutiny of parents, and is now left only to his or her discretion or conscience. Are there some young Christians who can handle such? Of course. Should you assume your child is one of them? Your Father (meaning Heavenly Father) is more careful of you than that.
(HT: Challies)

Racist Repents to Black Man He Beat Years Before

I saw this great video clip on The Institute and really appreciated this powerful story of reconciliation and grace.

Monday, February 09, 2009

New Site Considerations

In yesterday's extended announcement I went through some information regarding Parkview's possible relocation plans. Above is a map of one of the primary sites we are considering. Below is a summary of my talking points in the announcement. Remember, if you have any comments or questions, that there will be additional forums available for you to attend after each February 22 service in the atrium.

How would relocation effect our mission and vision?
  • Our primary focus and priority at Parkview has never been and, we pray, never will be land or a building. The mission that drives us is to, “Love God, Love Others, and Serve the World”.
  • Though changing locations can effect how we do mission it won’t change our commitment to that mission.
  • Our commitment to reaching the University of Iowa, to ministering to at-risk youth and their families at “The Spot”, and to sharing Christ with the Hispanic community in our area will continue to be at the heart of our mission, no matter where we’re located as a church.
How would a relocation of our main campus impact our college ministry?

Pastor, Nate Hobert and the students in his team have supported the idea that moving will not hinder their ability to maintain a strong ministry to college students, citing...
  • That the 24/7 mid-week event, weekly bible studies, and regular discipling activities all take place at down-town or campus locations, meaning the location of our main church facility will have little impact upon the day-to-day operations of the ministry.
  • In regard to our Sunday services, we’ve found that very few students actually walk here to attend the service. Many living on campus actually ride here on Parkview’s bus, which will continue to be service we provide, no matter where we are located.
What is the risk of a future floods at our Foster road location?
  • Since the floods of 2008 experts have proposed that the probability of us reaching those flood levels again is anywhere from 1 in 40 to 1 in 500.
  • Because annual rainfall totals have been steadily increasing and the reservoir is loosing capacity due to silt build-up, the “100 year flood” of 15 years ago, which reached to our doorstep, is now a 1 in 17 risk and is estimated to be a 1 in 5 risk in another 50 years. Reviewing all of these statistics, makes it safe to assume that the risk of future flood damage is very real.
What is our need for a larger facility or larger campus?
  • We must provide adequate seating at the times people want to attend. Because this is the case, simply adding another service, at another time, won’t really fix overcrowding issues.
  • In regard to prime attendance hours, church strategists have determined that once 80 percent of the seats are filled within a service, the attendance will stagnate or even decline. If you attend the 2nd or 3rd service, you realize that we are regularly filling our space to those levels.
  • With the city not allowing us to expand at our present location, to not relocate is to set ourselves up for stagnation and decline.
Can we afford to purchase land at this time?
  • We do have the funds that would, in addition to a small manageable loan, be enough to buy the land now. Of course, if the congregation chooses to move forward with the purchase, the Lord may also provide that shortfall through additional donations.
  • This leads to the question, “How would we pay for the cost of constructing a building at this new site?” Admittedly, that is a God sized issue. Our response being that if God is leading us to move, our next step of faith will be to purchase the land and, once that’s complete, to begin addressing future construction issues.
Can we “afford” NOT to buy it now?
  • The reality with this kind of property, is that If we don’t buy now, this and other possible locations will no longer be available.
  • Though the asking price for this property may seem steep, if you compare it to other sites using the standard of price per usable acre, it is the superior choice.
  • Though, in our search for property, we did find some more affordable tracts of land, the cost for needed roads, sewer and water hook up, access fees, and loss of unusable portions due to topography issues, made them less attractive options.
  • Of the 22 sites evaluated, 7 were attractive enough to investigate, and of those 7 the land on Forevergreen is the lowest priced per usable acre.
Is the Forevergreen site the best site?

6 criteria for purchase:
  1. a location close to a major road and accessible from many locations
  2. visibility
  3. buildable in the next 1-3 years rather than 5-10 years
  4. the land needs to have many entrances to the parcel
  5. at least 30 to 40 buildable acres and
  6. cost
  • The biggest negative regarding this site is its distance from our present site, which is about 7-9 minutes driving time during non rush-hour times.
  • Some of the positives of this site are that it is in a fast growing area, has good visibility from highway 965, will have multiple entrances and exits for traffic, will have future access to interstate 380, is easy to find “2 miles north of the mall”, and last but not least is on high ground.
What will happen to the current site if we build on a new site?
  • Though we are not making this decision at this time, how we decide the future will be based upon how the vision and mission can best be met, what resources we have to build on the new site, the market value of the present site, and future flood risk. This is an issue we’ll definitely need to work through as we look to the future.
Are we moving too fast?

In response to this, we want you to know that we are doing all we can to balance future flood risk, with real estate considerations, with the need to move forward carefully and intentionally.
  • We are presently in the middle of a 4 month phase where we’ve made it our goal to listen to the congregation, gather as much information as possible, and pray in order to either reaffirm or change our direction.
  • In this regard, we continue to welcome your thoughts and suggestions as we look to the future.

Patience in Providence

This weekend I'll be teaching in services about how God’s grace provides all we need to make it through life’s journey, if only we would be patient, putting our full trust in Him and His provision of the cross. After this message from the book of Numbers 21:4-9 the service will close with the celebration of the Lord’s Table.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Matt Chandler On the Gospel

Matt Chandler is pastor at Village Church and one of the young up-and-coming preachers who God is really using in powerful ways for the Kingdom of God. I just watched the message he gave at the Desiring God conference and was really moved once again by the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to transform lives. I really appreciate in particular how he helps us to discern moralism versus the Gospel. I can't stress enough how epidemic moralism is within the Evangelical church and how most Christians are living in bondage both due to moralistic preaching and moralistic thinking. This video is definitely worth watching.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

J-Life's Best Pick-up Lines

Nile, our Jr. High pastor sent out an email with the winning entries from their Super Bowl Party, "Best Pick-up Lines" contest. They were so good, I thought I would pass them on. If you're married or single, you might want to store these away for the right occasion. Of course, if I catch either of my junior high kids using them, they'll be grounded for a month.
  • Did you just break wind? ‘Cuz you blew me away!
  • If you were a buger I would pick you first.
  • Are you my double chin? ‘Cuz that’s how close I feel to you right now.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Iowa is Not in the Bible Belt

This recent gallup pole asked people across the nation the question, "Is religion an important part of your daily life?" The results can be read at this link and can be seen in the map below. I've never considered Iowa part of the Bible belt and think a regional pole in our county would probably put us closer to the "least religious" category.

Albert Mohler offered his interpretation of the data below.

The radical difference between the 85% marked by Mississippi and the 42% of Vermont point to real and challenging distinctions in how we should conceive our Great Commission challenge in those states. In Mississippi, the challenge is to reach persons who think they are Christians with the reality of the genuine Gospel. In Vermont, reaching a secular population is the main challenge. Both represent important and vital Great Commission challenges.