Thursday, June 25, 2009

Is It OK to Cast Lots?

I am presently wrapping up a residency week of studying the Old Testament at Covenant Theological Seminary. I’ve got to admit that the class is messing with a lot of my theological categories. We just finished having a discussion on the casting of lots that is a very prominent method used throughout the Old Testament and was even used for the selection of an apostle in the days of the early church (Acts 1:26). My conclusion is that, as long as it is used with caution, there may be circumstances in which is it appropriate to cast lots for making a decision.

Below is a video of John Piper discussing the issue of casting lots. Appropriately, he emphasizes the need for using caution.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Attention All Guitar Players

Last weekend I had my first opportunity to use Korg’s Pandora Toneworks processor in preparation for playing my Telecaster electric guitar in weekend church services. I’ve got to say, it was the coolest thing ever. Not only does it allow you to practice through headphones with eleven different guitar effects, but it also allows you to run an eighth inch stereo input from an ipod or CD player that can be instantly transposed into another key. In church, where charts are often lowered from the key of the original recording this is a gold mine feature. Though I haven’t used the feature, you can also record a 30 second segment (say for a guitar solo) and, without changing the pitch, slow down the tempo in order to practice at a more accessible speed. Practicing guitar will never be the same! BTW: This also works for bass guitar and can be found here for around $150.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Why People Become De-Churched

I just finished reading the book of Job this morning and was reminded how inappropriate it is, like Job's friends, to live our lives with the mindset that suffering is always a direct result of wickedness. The idea being, if you are struggling with cancer or facing bankruptcy, there must have been something you did to cause it. Certainly there are consequences for our poor actions, but when you understand the gospel you see that even our most obeident actions are incapable of reversing the judgment we deserve because of sin. The point being that God's graciousness produces everything and anything in our life that is good, it is not a result of our righteousness, or in the case of suffering, our wickedness.

This also applies to the belief that if we are good, we will be rewarded with blessings from the Lord. One need to only view a few minutes of Christian television to see this theology preached in extreme measure. To think this way is to strip the gospel of it's beauty and power. God's gift of life is His benevolent action extended to us in spite of our sin. This grace frees us from the guilt and condemnation that comes with us always trying to "measure up" to a standard we're incapable of reaching.

In this video Matt Chandler illustrates how moralism is the very reason many churched people become de-churched. Those raised in moralism either become moralists themselves or see moralism for what it is and run as far as they can from the church. Moralism is one of the greatest dangers in the church and something that must be opposed.

(HT: Desiring God)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Arts Ministry BBQ 2009

Thanks to all of you who were able to make this years Arts Ministry BBQ out at the Boatman's. The Lord was very gracious to give us a dry cool evening when, just the day before, it appeared rain was imminent. I am so thankful for the wonderful people I have the privilege to work with day in and day out at Parkview. What a great group of people who love the Lord and love doing life and ministry together! Thanks for hosting us Doug and Jean! The following are some pics of our time together.

Insanity or Creativity?

Thanks to Ryan Lamb in San Fransico for the pic!

Monday, June 08, 2009

Anniversary of the Flood

A year ago this week, Parkview was under 4 feet of flood water from the Iowa River. It's hard to believe all this church and community went through over the last year. Recently I went through all the photos and was surprised how much it moved me. The feelings were not of regret or frustration, but of fondness. Fondness rooted in the memory of working side by side with such wonderful people. Though some might think the flood got the best of us when it filled our facility with over four feet of muddy river water but, in my view, the Lord used the flood to cement our trust in Him and to fordge deep and meaningful friendships. For this I am grateful.

Here is a recent article in the Press Citizen regarding our return and below are a few pics and descriptions recounting some of the events that surrounded the flood. To see a complete review of the flood, you can visit my June blog archive for more pictures and written detail.

On Sunday, June 8th we began building a sandbag wall around the church. At the time we only expected to build the wall a few feet high.

Each day the flood projections required us to increase the height of the wall, leaving it at about 4 feet tall all the way around the building. Rain gutters were re-built in order to send roof water outside the flood wall.

Walls were fortified and sump pumps were installed all along the wall in order to maintain the integrity of the flood barrier.

Eventually trucks and tractors were unable to transport sandbags due to the eroding driving path. From that point forward long lines were made to pass sandbags where ever they were needed.

Here's our access to the main entrance of the church facility.

A boat with diesel fuel was ready to keep our generators fueled that were to power the sumps once land access was no longer available.

Sand bagging operations continued in our upper parking lot for both the church and area neighborhoods.

The water kept rising.

The wall on the southeast corner of the facility was holding back water by Wednesday, June 11th.

Sandbagging operations kept shifting further north as the waters rose.

On Thursday the 12th, we were ordered by the city to evacuate. At the time we were told flood waters were now projected to reach to the eaves of the building.

Most of the facility was evacuated in these crates that were hauled by lifts across the floodwaters into numerous semi trailers.

Services were relocated to West High.

Within a day the entire facility was flooded.

A few of us were joined by CNN (the guy with the camera) as we toured the flooded facility.

Here's the window in the main office.

On Sunday, June 22 the waters fully receded and we were given access to the facility to begin the process of clean-out.

On December 14th, we had our first services back at Parkview after almost 6 months of facility renovation.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

I Am Clean

From my reading from Leviticus for my OT survey course...

If a man's hair falls out from his head, he is bald; he is clean. And if a man's hair falls out from his forehead, he has baldness of the forehead; he is clean. Leviticus 13:40-41

Great reassurance for follicly challenged men everywhere.

Proud of My Sister

This post is a bit out of the ordinary for my blog, but I could not help but brag on my sister who is a veterinarian in Kearney, Nebraska. She was recently trained in a cutting edge ACL repair procedure that involves rebuilding the structure of the leg in order to change the physics of how it functions. Outside of Omaha, she is the only vet performing this procedure which allows young larger sized dogs a quality of life previously unavailable. Here is an article featuring her work in their local newspaper and below is an x-ray of her first completed procedure. If you are looking for a good vet in central Nebraska, I've got a recommendation for you.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Ministering to the Transgender

In this set of articles, Russell Moore, a seminary faculty member at Southern Seminary, deals with the ethical dilemma of how to counsel a surgically altered transgender with a daughter who comes to faith in Christ. To be honest, I am still wrestling with this one. Where Moore's article may break down a bit is the assumption that this person does not have a whole host of emotional struggles that keep them from neatly progressing through the process of discipleship. None the less, he certainly has well thought answer that is Biblically sound. I just worry that his thoughts are written from the perspective of one who has never actually walked through this type of issue with a transgender individual. I am concerned that those who read his thoughts will "amen" them and not really be equipped to handle the sophisticated issues one encounters when working with people in this situation. If dealt with improperly, the Christian could end up pushing the individual out of the church. One thing for sure, helping people with these types of issues requires you to have lots of grace and be in it for the long haul, but that is what the church is to be all about. Here are his thought provoking posts on the issue.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Soul Winning Made Easy

This was too funny to not cop from Challies blog. As a future church planter, I'll need to keep tabs on this post from a 1959 soul winning pamphlet for future reference!

Monday, June 01, 2009

God's Calling

Tonight at the congregational meeting, those of you in attendance heard that Carrie and I are accepting what we believe to be the call of God to plant a church in a little over a year (June 2010) with the Acts 29 network.

This calling stems from a growing heart to be part of, not only planting a church, but of planting a missional church that is committed to spreading the Gospel through the ongoing process of planting new churches. This vision for being part of a “movement of the Gospel” stems from a growing conviction from God and His Word and a growing love for His church. This growth has lead Carrie and I to pray and deeply ponder how it is God would uniquely use us in His mission to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19).

I am presently in the process of undergoing assessment with the Acts 29 network, which is a network of churches with the goal of planting 1000 churches, both locally and globally, in the next 10 years. We are presently setting our sites on Madison, Wisconsin as an optimum church plant location.

This next year will be a busy one as I work to...

  • Develop transition plans with those of you serving in the Worship and Arts ministry
  • Help Jeff and the elders in the search for a new Pastor of Worship and Music
  • Serve as a member of the building committee as we undergo a master planning process for our future facility relocation

Please be praying as we work with the elders in upcoming months to confirm the various details of this planting vision. We are thankful to be part of a church that not only shares our vision for Gospel expansion, but has also patiently loved us as we have grown through the various successes and failures that often come with ministry. In the last 10+ years of ministry God has used you all to form and shape us in ways that leave us humbled and immensely grateful.