Friday, June 30, 2006

Comprehensive Fall Schedule

Below is the comprehensive programming schedule for the Fall 06 ministry season. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of supportive feedback that we received with this schedule. There were a few very valid questions and concerns that were voiced by several individuals. I will attempt to answer a few of those at the end of this post.

The arts staff team took quite a bit of time on Tuesday working on a schedule that would maintain our goals of excellence while also being sensitive to your time commitment as volunteers. If we maintain the present sound-check schedule “as is” the adding of the additional Saturday service would add one more hour to the weekend schedule. Fortunately, the staff team felt that this new structure gave us the luxury of streamlining our rehearsal/sound-check schedule, cutting a total of 45 minutes. These changes make the increased volunteer commitment a total of 15 minutes! Needless to say, I was delighted that God provided a structure that allowed us another service without asking significantly more time from our volunteers.

- - - -


3:15 PM
  • Stage Sound Check (Technical Team Call Time)
3:30 PM
  • Full Tech Rehearsal (All Programming, Arts, Music & Tech)
4:30 PM
  • Sunday School / Nursery
  • Possible Adult Bible Fellowships / Support Groups / Institute Class
  • Meal for Volunteer Teams / Families
5:00 PM
  • Café Opens
6:00 PM
  • Family Connection (30-40 minutes in length)
  • Nursery
  • Possible Adult Bible Fellowships / Support Groups / Institute Class
8:30 PM
  • Café Closes

7:30 AM
  • Atrium Team Rehearsal
8:00 AM
  • Café Opens
8:15 AM
  • Mainstage Team Rehearsal
9:00 AM
  • Sunday School / Nursery
  • Possible Adult Bible Fellowships / Institute Class
  • Youth Sunday School
10:30 AM
  • Traditional Sunday School / Nursery
  • Family Connection (30-40 minutes in length)
  • Possible Adult Bible Fellowships / Institute Class
12:15 PM
  • Café Closes
- - - -

The following were some questions that arose in the evaluation process of this schedule:

Why are we adding another service to Saturday when the present service is only half full?

The adding of the service is more an issue of magnetism than flood relief. What I mean is this. The dual track service structure is an essential model for our discipleship and serving strategy. For example, during weekend services we encourage people to take advantage of adult fellowships, serving opportunities (children’s ministry, greeting, etc…), and youth Sunday school programs. The reason this works is because people can serve or attend in these supplemental programs and then attend the corporate service. This year we had a lot of struggles with the Saturday service because all the people who signed up to serve or who wanted a group fellowship experience would be forced to come back to Parkview on Sunday in order to “complete the experience.” With the new structure this is no longer a problem. Someone can now attend on Saturday without being forced to return Sunday to “complete the experience” thus making Saturday a more magnetic/attractive service to our general population. We are hopeful this will make Saturdays a more appealing alternative for those who are presently attending on Sunday mornings, thus opening up more seats during the hours visitors are most likely to attend.

Why are we shifting our Sunday service times to 9:00 and 10:30 am?

There are several reasons for this shift. For the sake of space, I will address two of the more prominent ones. With our two-service structure on Sundays we have been attempting to evenly distribute our attendance so that both services are equally full. In our present structure (8:45 and 10:15) we have found that the 10:15 service is the largest attended service. We are hopeful that the 15-minute shift will help equalize both services, thus maximizing our use of space. One other issue we have with the present times is that Jr. High and Sr. High students are no longer attending corporate worship. The pre-9 am factor causes most students to skip the first hour services and just show up for the 10:45 youth meeting time. We are hopeful the new schedule will maintain our desire to have our weekend services be a multi-cultural, multi-generational picture of the body of Christ.

In conclusion, if there are more questions I can answer please shoot them my way. Your feedback is needed and appreciated!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Honda Car Choir

I played this brilliant car commercial for the choir tonight. Yes, the sound affects are all made with a choir. Great illustration of what the human voice can do with hard work, skill, and precision. This would have been a riot to conduct. You can watch the commercial and also see a "making of the ad" video.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Arts BBQ Photos

I've now posted 44 photos from the Arts Ministry BBQ here at our photo hosting website (see some of the samples below). You can actually purchase copies directly from the hosting site and have them direct mailed to your home. Thanks again to the Boatman's, Chris Carlson, and the many others who helped make this fellowship such an amazing success. I thank God for the perfect weather and for giving the Arts Ministry such wonderful volunteers who are so much fun to be with!

Monday, June 26, 2006

The Words Win

I'm not sure everyone in technical ministry would necessarily agree with David Wilcox's approach to mixing sound for worship, but it is a well articulated and interesting approach to mixing a band/vocals. I think it is certainly arguable that the words must be intelligible when mixing for worship in order to give the congregation the ability to freely and comfortably participate in worship. To read the entire article click here.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Music in the Church

In this post on The Resurgence blog, John Armstrong gives a very fresh perspective on the role of music in the church. I so enjoyed his Biblical teaching on God's love for and use of music. He also makes the following statements of how certain approaches to music fall short of a proper Biblical perspective:
For one, music should not be rooted in the tastes of the people through a kind of democratic principle. If this is the case, we sing and play what appeals to the group at hand, and the result will be composition that usually lacks theological concern and musical depth.

Second, it seems to me that we must not sing and play, as an end in itself, what simply “preserves our particular heritage.” Scripture will not endorse the idea that the primary function of our music is the preservation of heritage, as important as that heritage may be.

Third, it should be obvious that the place of music in the church is not entertainment! Such an approach treats music as a kind of escape valve. Music can certainly have a place for entertaining us elsewhere, but worship is never conceived of as entertainment in the whole of Scripture.

Finally, any philosophy that treats music as an end in itself is suspect and unhelpful. This is the “art for art’s sake” idea. It often drives certain churches that take great pride in their “high cultural” approach to liturgy and form in music. The answer to this is simple: Art for Christ’s sake is our goal!
What a great message for the church today. You can read his complete post here.

(HT: Resurgence)

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Iowa City Ranks Well

In the midst of some browsing today, I ran across some rankings about Iowa City in recent publications. It confirms that Iowa City is a great place to live and a strategic place for ministry.

Here are some recent rankings...
  • Out of the 40 best college towns Iowa City ranked as No. 10 making it one of the coolest places to work, play, study, party, and live in North America!
  • Kiplinger’s Personal Finance ranked Iowa City as No. 10 out of 50 of the “smartest places to live.”
  • Forbes ranked Iowa City No. 13 in the “Best Small Places to do Business” publication
  • Men’s Journal ranked Iowa City No. 6 among the healthiest, safest and sexiest places to live in America.
  • CNN Money Magazine listed Iowa City as one of the top five places to retire.
  • Expansion Management Magazine ranked Iowa Cities Public Schools No. 4 out of 334 (2004)
  • Forbes ranked Iowa City the No. 3 best “Small Metro Area” in 2004


Here’s a picture from our summer Arts Ministry BBQ out at Doug and Jean Boatman’s place. God gave us such a beautiful evening for some wonderful fellowship with great food, fishing, hayrack rides, and a huge jumper for the kids (picture of my daughter Elizabeth to the left). I’ll post more pictures very soon. It was great connecting with so many of you and getting to know you better! Thanks Doug and Jean for being such wonderful hosts!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Lighted Metranome Pick

OK, I know I am on a run of consecutive relatively meaningless blog entries, but this is an interesting development from Santa Cruz Light Wells. Thanks DBoats.

- - - -

LEDs are so small that now they can even fit into a guitar pick, and Santa Cruz Light Wells (SCLW) has placed a group of eight of them on the Light Pick, which is powered by a tiny watch battery and also functions as a metronome. It’s available in a variety of colors, and in right-handed and left-handed versions. It also includes three interchangeable tips for light, medium, or heavy picking action.

Only problem is, the Light Pick’s $60 price is enough money to buy hundreds of conventional guitar picks. But then if you want it to look like your playing is packing enough heat to set that guitar ablaze, it might just be worth it.

(HT: Gismodo)

Groovin on the Throne

Those of you who love your ipod will love this one. Yes, even on the throne you can “feel the rhythm” of the music. The icarta is the real deal.

Please! Don’t forget to wash your hands before removing your ipod!

(HT: Rich Kirpatrick)

Nacho Libre?

Our Senior Pastor and Children’s Pastor have both been really talking-up this movie. For those of you who loved Napoleon Dynamite, this is the next big film by the same director.

Here is the opening to Christianity Today’s review:

There's a pretty simple test as to whether you'd enjoy Nacho Libre or not. Two questions: Did you like Napoleon Dynamite? Do you typically like Jack Black?

Read the rest here.

Have any of you seen it? What did you think?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

14 Pounds of Baby

Dan Van Oss needed a creative outlet this week and chose to have a little fun with one of our pastor's presentation of his new baby twins in services last weekend. The combined weight of the twins was 14 pounds! Check out Dan’s funky remix here.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Fall 06 Proposed Schedule

Parkview Friends,

Most of you have likely either heard or read about the proposed service schedule for the Fall ministry season. This schedule has gone through the Senior Staff and Elders and is now open for feedback from the congregation. Here is the schedule:


4:30 PM
  • Sunday School / Nursery
  • Possible Adult Bible Fellowships / Support Groups / Institute Class
6:00 PM
  • Family Connection (30-40 minutes in length)
  • Nursery
  • Possible Adult Bible Fellowships / Support Groups / Institute Class

9:00 AM
  • Sunday School / Nursery
  • Family Connection (Starts at 9:30 am)
  • Possible Adult Bible Fellowships / Institute Class
  • Youth Sunday School
10:30 AM
  • Sunday School / Nursery
  • Family Connection (30-40 minutes in length)
  • Possible Adult Bible Fellowships / Institute Class
This week I will be discussing this schedule with all the vocal ensembles. The changes are being proposed as part of a new “family based” discipleship model for kids, ages children through youth. This structure would also give us four appealing service times and a “fully self-sufficient” Saturday evening experience, eliminating the need for people to come back on Sunday for ABF’s or Services.

There are a lot more specifics regarding this structure, but those details are better shared in person. Part of the reason I posted this schedule is I invite you to post questions that you might have regarding the specifics and/or motivation behind this schedule. Please hold off from expressing concerns/feedback until I’ve had the opportunity to verbalize all the details in person. I will answer posted questions (if there are any) as best as possible during the Q&A sessions this week.



Saturday, June 17, 2006

Worship God Live: The Review

In 2005 Covenant Life Church hosted two evenings of worship to record their recent project Worship God Live. I thank Bob Kauflin and the team at Sovereign Grace Ministries for the opportunity to review this CD.

I would like to start this review commenting that I deeply respect the vision behind the Worship Ministry and this project at Sovereign Grace Ministries. This kind of project represents a desire in many to awaken mindful affections for God that will take the contemporary listener to new levels of appreciation for the boundless riches we find in His grace. As stated in a recent post, I have a deep desire for contemporary songwriters to begin writing songs that combine substantive theological thought with skillful poetic lyric. I applaud the effort that went into this CD toward the accomplishment of this goal.

The musicianship and recording quality on this project was fantastic. It is wonderful hearing so many excellent musicians dedicating themselves to playing for the glory of God. As in past projects by this ministry, there were some very creative nuances that made many of the songs sound fresh and original.

Though this project excelled in many ways, I was surprised that as a live recording it didn’t sound more “live.” There were moments you could hear congregation participating with singing or clapping but these moments were minimal and drown out by a predominant vocal team sound that was excellent, but also somewhat stylistically dated. A thinner vocal texture with more audible live congregational participation may have given this CD an air of authenticity that would have made it more relevant to a broader audience.

Some of the songs also sounded a bit too “happy” or “sing-songy” for my taste. The problem with this musical feel in a song is that it can risk sounding artificial and fake to believers and unbelievers alike. This is especially problematic when we observe that the call to faith in Christ is often a call to suffer. When in the midst of suffering people want to celebrate, but they want to do it in the context of joyful melodies, not “happy” ones.

Despite these concerns, this recording blessed me. In preparation for this review I spent a lot of time listening to the CD and it lead to several meaningful moments of worship. This recording will undoubtedly be a great resource for many churches across the nation and around the world. Though some of the stylistic characteristics may inhibit it’s influence and acceptance in certain arenas, it is certainly a project that God has and will continue to use to edify the church and bring glory to His name.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Kingdom of Rock is At Hand

Christianity Today featured a stinging article about Christian Rock music that heavily references Andrew Beaujon’s book “Body Piercing Saved My life: Inside the Phenomenon of Christian Rock.” In it are some interesting critiques about the Christian music industry. It reminds me of a Christian song from the 80’s that said, “why does the Devil have all the good music?” I don’t necessarily agree with the statement, but wish Christians could shake the reputation of putting out music that is sub par or in the very least a copy of what successful secular musicians are doing.

Here’s a quote from the article:

- - -

Such is the tortured state of popular Christian music: It's of the world, but not in it. It exists, as Andrew Beaujon attests in his engrossing Body Piercing Saved My Life: Inside the Phenomenon of Christian Rock, in a "parallel universe," never fully intersecting with the trendsetting sonic landscapes of mainstream or alternative rock. Christian music may approximate the sounds of popular rock, and the labels may even be owned by the same parent companies, but to many people's ears, Christian rock is just one long cover.

Living Out Biblical Manhood

In this post C.J. Mehaney challenges pastors to live out the Biblical calling of being a huband and father. I’m going to ask my wife these questions he suggested. What about you other married guys out there?

- - - -

Our teaching on this topic will only be as effective as our personal example. Modeling precedes teaching. Biblical instruction cannot be divorced from personal example. We must provide our churches with a genuine (not perfect) model of biblical masculinity. It is possible to skillfully teach Genesis 1-3 or Ephesians 5 and yet neglect to apply these passages to our lives. So, let me ask you: Where and how are you going to demonstrate biblical manhood to your wife and children this week? What difference is your complementarian position going to make in your life and for those you love, lead, and serve? If I spent the week with you, would your conviction about biblical masculinity be obvious?

Gentlemen, here is a gift you can give to your wife this week. Set aside a few hours of uninterrupted time, and ask her to honestly evaluate your personal example of godliness and your leadership in the home.

I dare you to ask her this question:

Where do I need to grow in serving and leading you?

For bonus points, ask this question:

Where do I need to grow in serving and leading the children?

This one conversation could initiate dramatic changes in your life.

After you’ve talked to your wife, I would encourage you to relate the details to a fellow elder, pastor or friend. Invite their questions and observations and make yourself accountable to them for application. This step will weaken pride and cultivate humility. Because God gives grace to the humble, this is a very smart thing to do. In fact, it would be stupid not to, since God opposes the proud. So, let us avoid being mere advocates of the complementarian position. By the grace of God we must be functional complementarians, and this must be evident for all to see.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Pray for the Elders

For those of you not aware, I am now starting a 2-year term on the elder board. Yes, some of you may think I am off my rocker for adding one more thing to my plate; however, this is such a strategic time for our church right now that I feel it is important for me to step up and be part of the process.

In light of this, I’d like to invite your prayers. Tonight we (the elders) are trying to wrestle through some practical and philosophical issues regarding our general approach to ministry programming. By God’s grace we appear to be getting closer than ever to arriving at a weekend service strategy that we feel will give the church something to build upon for years to come. Thanks for your prayers and I'll update you with more information in the very near future!


Sunday, June 11, 2006

Batwoman is a Lesbian

The DC comics crew is resurrecting Batwoman as a lesbian. In my opinion their new strategy is not to make the comics more PC, but to stir up the sexual excitement in young hormone driven boys. All you need to do is watch the sitcom "Friends" and quite regularly you'll see the character Joey's eyes light up at the thought of two women being together. It's something that curious comic readers (and men in general) will find alluring and addictive.

Of course, the comic writers are promoting Batwoman's coming out as an opportunity to represent diversity in their comics. As a parent of five children, I am frustrated that I can't even allow my child to buy a comic book without fearing that he may see two women kissing or read about hints of homosexual sex. Here's the full story.

(HT: Meditations of Gill)

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Don Whitney on Family Worship

Justin Taylor featured the post below on a new family worship booklet by Don Whitney. I attended a conference by Whitney on the spiritual disciplines when he was the Professor of Spiritual Formation at Midwestern Seminary in Kansas City. He has written much on worship and I am sure this volume is a worthwhile read. I confess having a hard time leading my family to worship together (though worship is the top priority of our family mission statement) so this will be a good read for me as a husband and father. I’ll get it and let you know what I think.

- - - -

Don Whitney has written a 32-page booklet entitled Family Worship: In the Bible, in History, and in Your Home. Here is some more information on it:

Don Whitney has written a book we truly need. . . . This book belongs in every Christian home and in the hands of every Christian parent.
—R. Albert Mohler, Jr., President
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Family Worship by Don Whitney is a priceless little volume. Whitney makes a compelling case from the Bible for the practice and illustrates it richly with historical examples. He even answers the frequently asked questions and responds to common objections. This book is persuasive, practical, and most of all, doable.
—Dr. Tedd Tripp, Pastor and author of Shepherding a Child's Heart

Family Worship surveys the biblical teaching on family worship, demonstrates how our heroes throughout church history have practiced it, and then gives fathers/husbands the simple, specific, practical how-to's of family worship.

There's also a section dealing with common questions such as,
  • What if the father is not a Christian?
  • What if there is no father at home?
  • What if the children are very young?
  • What if there are a wide range of ages among the children?
A Discussion Guide for each of the five chapters concludes the booklet.

This 32-page booklet retails for $5.95. However, generous discounts are available for bulk purchases. At present, this just-released resource is available only through The Center for Biblical Spirituality.

Family Worship is designed for individual reading or for group study. Some churches are giving a copy of this booklet to each man in their church.

(HT: Between Two Worlds)

For Men Only

For all of you guys who are married, I HIGHLY recommend this book. A friend (thanks DBoats) gave it to me a month ago and I finished it while on vacation. It is a sequel to the book “For Women Only” that my wife read several months earlier. Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn wrote the book based upon survey results from thousands of women to help men understand the inner lives of women and consequently, how to love them better. True, books like this tend to make generalizations, but all one needs to do is sort out those generalizations which don’t apply to your relationship. Here are some of the quotes that in many cases blew my mind!!!

  • Women’s “thought lives are almost like busy computers with multiple windows open and running all at once."
  • 95 percent of women feel that a reasonable solution would not solve their problem.
  • Instead of filtering out her feelings to concentrate on the problem, we need to practice filtering out the problem so we can concentrate on her feelings about it.
  • You’re not just the guy who shares her space. You’re her most important mirror.
It is a quick and easy read that is worth your time. The data is relevant for today’s relationships and is also written from a Biblical worldview. Read it!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Vodcasts with Mark Driscoll

Mark Driscoll (A.K.A. the cussing pastor) is the Senior Pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington. Have I ever hear him cuss? No. But he does have a reputation for, at times, seriously lacking in tactfulness. Mark is known as a cutting edge Pastor who represents a conservative wing of today’s postmodern church movement. He is most recently famous for a public backlash against other postmodern leaders who have forsaken Biblical inerrancy and embraced liberal stands on issues such as egalitarianism and homosexuality.

The reason I am writing this post is to recommend his churches vodcast, which is a video version of podcasts. Once a week the most recent message video goes online and automatically transfers to my itunes. Like any Bible teacher, his views need to be listened to with discernment, but I just finished the second message in his 1 Corinthians series “Christians Gone Wild” and I must say that I have been quite impressed. He teaches with an “in your face” style that is refreshing and quite challenging. He is also not afraid to grapple with some very difficult issues. Take a look and let me know what you think!

DIRECTIONS: In itunes, go to the advanced option on the menubar and select, “subscribe to podcast.” At that point you can enter the address at the bottom of this post. Once a message has downloaded you can view it in the podcast link on the left menu bar of your itunes. CAUTION: This is only an option for people with high-speed internet. Dial-up users will require 8+ hours of download time per message, sorry.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

The Missional Church

The word "missional" is a major "buzz word" in the postmodern church movement. At Parkview you may remember the word being used by Nate Hobert in the last couple of messages he gave in services. In this post, Anthony Bradley challenges us to remember the Kingdom in our missional world view. Here is a quote:
The mission of the kingdom has begun and will be finalized completely at the return of Jesus. What are Jesus followers to do in the meantime? Press the "pause" button and sit on their butts, huddled up on their 60-acre compounds waiting on Jesus to return? Nope! Jesus followers are called to "go!" That is, to "go" be witnesses and testifiers of the Kingdom of Jesus everywhere in the world and in all areas of life empowered by the Spirit of God himself (Matt 28:18-20, Acts 1:8). This means teaching the nations about the Kingdom of Jesus, calling them to repentance and faith, living out the good news in their midst, and engaging all areas of life and culture as a picture of what God intends for his world (Col 3:23).

Women in the Church

One of the controversies within today’s Evangelical church is in regard to the role of women in the church. There are two primary positions that are embraced by Evangelicals. One is complimentarianism and the other egalitarianism. In any given church you will see extreme and moderate views on both sides of the issue. Here’s a very limited definition of the two views:
  • COMPLIMENTARIANISM: Men and women are equal in value but have complimentary differences.
  • EGALITARIANISM: Men and women are equal in value, role, and position.
Parkview does hold to a more complimentary view on this issue. One of the biggest problems with the egalitarian view is its lack of strong Biblical support. Recently a coalition of churches united under the banner “Together for the Gospel” posted an explanation for why they included a complimentary statement on this issue within their statement of beliefs. You can read it here.

If you are interested in a comprehensive look at the issue you can get an excellent book called, "Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood" by John Piper and Wayne Grudem here.

(HT: JTaylor)

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Archway Adventure

Vacation is almost over. Today we visited the Archway Monument that spans over Interstate-80 in Kearney, Nebraska. Next time you are on your way to Colorado (most people I know tend to go through Nebraska, not too Nebraska) it would be a stop worth making.

Judging from these signs on a pedestrian bridge at the monument, people in Nebraska must be worried about the growing obesity epidemic.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Civic Holidays and the Church

I confess always struggling to know how appropriate it is to observe civic holidays in our church services. For example, I had a voice mail two days before the Memorial Day weekend by a senior citizen in our church who said, “this may be short notice, but I sure hope we will be singing the “National Anthem” or “God Bless America” this weekend.” I am extremely proud to be a citizen of this great nation and am so thankful for the freedom we enjoy; however, I wrestle with how appropriate it is to give a lot of time toward leading the congregation in the singing of patriotic songs in our services.

I found it very interesting to see that Bob Kauflin recently took time to speak to this very issue in a recent post. Here’s a quote:

"In brief, since God’s kingdom is not of this world (Jn. 18:36), we don’t feel any obligation to draw attention to, highlight, or celebrate civil holidays as part of our Sunday gatherings. There are a number of reasons. Our country doesn’t set the agenda and priorities for the meetings of the church – God’s Word does. Also, one country’s celebration may confront another country’s values. For instance, not too many Christian Brits celebrate Independence Day. Finally, we gather on Sundays to remember the covenant God has made with us, celebrate the redemption He has provided through His Son, and to encourage one another to live lives worthy of the Gospel. The values celebrated by a particular public holiday may not always line up with those goals.Kauflin does go on to point out that there are legitimate times to emphasize national holidays within services, but definitely cautions one from going too far in this direction."

In a related vein, I was angered by all the patriotic musicals that came out for churches in the wake of 9/11. It smacked of the music industries desire to profit from the attacks by filling all the churches with patriotic music. I enjoyed several very meaningful renditions of the “National Anthem” following the attacks, but felt like publishing companies put out endless 45-minute patriotic musicals in attempt to milk the emotions of people for corporate profit.

This leads me to the assertion that I have heard some make that America is some kind of new Biblical Israel. This has no support Biblically and feeds the ego-centric mindset that harms our ability to truly be effective for the work of the gospel around the world. We must remember we are citizens of heaven first and if, God forbid, one day this great nation would fall our citizenship in heaven would not be shaken.

NOTE FOR PARKVIEW: With this post I am not making the statement that we will not recognize these holidays in our services, nor am I saying that we will not ever sing a patriotic song in our services. I am simply stating some of my concerns about making Patriotic themes too central in our services.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Nebraska the Good Life

This is the motto of the state in which I was born and raised. It is a unique culture in central Nebraska. There is generally a lot less humidity here than in Iowa (where I now live) and a whole lot more wind (no, Nebraska isn’t windy because Iowa sucks). The people are friendly and life is somewhat simpler. The unique thing that is happening to the climate here is a little scary if you consider projections.

The Ogallala aquifer is the large underground lake that supplies central and western Nebraska with its water. People in Nebraska water their lawns all the time and the crops are continually irrigated. This aggressive water use is necessary to sustain the crops and communities. The problem is that the aquifer is slowly disappearing. In the small community of Bertrand where I have stayed the last few days, city wells drilled decades ago were around 300 feet in depth. The most recent well drilled in the last few years needed to go over 600 feet deep in order to insure a sufficient water supply for the years to come. Reservoirs that once sustained water recreation almost year around are now shutting down in early June because levels have dropped so drastically that boats are no longer able to dock.

I am not a mystic Christian looking for demons behind every bush or worrying about the apocalypse with every earthquake; however, it is a little scary imagining the state of Nebraska slowly becoming a desert. How much of this is caused by global warming? Is this part of a global climate shift that will render our world unable to sustain life as we know it? Those questions are for the scientists to debate. No matter the answer, our eroding climate is simply a reminder that life as we know will one day end, and at that point we will begin an eternal existence that will no longer be subject to tears, crying, pain, tornados, cancer, aging, sickness, drought, and the like.

Writing Songs for Your Spirit and Your Mind

This morning I read 1 Corinthians 14:15b which says “I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also.” This verse is specifically speaking to the issue of using tongues in worship, stressing the importance of singing (and speaking) praise in a language that edifies the body by causing people to not only “sense the emotion” behind the praise, but to also become intellectually engaged by its content. I believe this verse captures, in principle, a concept that may be helpful for today’s Christian songwriters to contemplate.

Recently I reviewed several CD’s that represent a resurgence of songs in the church that are written using old hymn texts set to new tunes and/or instrumentation. It is nice to see the church finding value in the old hymn texts that have otherwise been forgotten; however, I can’t help but notice that this resurgence claims, in part, to be a reformation for a singing church that tends to gravitate toward songs with lighter weight lyrical content.

Now, if we consider that musicians who were also pastors and theologians wrote a lot of the hymns, it no surprise that these songs often reflect an understanding for the deeper issues of faith. This leads me to a few challenges for contemporary songwriters.
  1. Become avid students of the scriptures and theology. A deeper understanding of your faith will better equip you to capture more thoughtful content in your writing.
  2. Consider approaching your songwriting as if you were writing a poem. If the lyric could be published as “stand alone” poetic verses, then you are likely writing something that will engage the spirit and mind of the congregation.
In closing, I must qualify my challenges. Firstly, there is a lot of great music being written today. It is totally acceptable and appropriate to sing songs that are simpler in content and that meditate upon a specific aspect of God’s character; all this to say that the church would benefit from new songs that teach and sing about deeper issues of faith and theology. Secondly, I am not a songwriter, so I do not understand the finer points of writing a good song. I would appreciate any input from you songwriters that would add to my thoughts.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Sisters Charged in Fight Over Parade Candy

Sisters fight over candy all the time. Right? These sisters were arrested fighting over who got the most Twizzler’s in the Wood Dale, Illinois Memorial Day Parade. Pamela is 23 and Joyce is 31. Read the rest here.

Lizard Attack!

OK, this is indeed a very funny link. This guy is scared to death of lizards. The more I watched it, the more I laughed.

(HT: Vitamin Z)

State of the Ministry Address (Summer 06)

The summer is in full swing and I am presently sitting in the basement of my in-laws place in rural Nebraska. The kids are playing with cousins and grandpa’s Nintendo 64 and I thought I’d take a moment to update you all with a summer “State of the Ministry” address.


The vocal and instrumental ministries are charging forward for the summer. Both the vocal and instrumental schedules have been released and in some cases are presently being refined. John Carlson is working on a re-release of his instrumental preludes project that was originally recorded and mastered when he was a Music Director at Willow Creek in Chicago. I’ll let you know when his re-release is out so you can get a copy. Also, John is going to be featured in the “Art Scene Iowa” newspaper. The article will be on “Jesus and Jazz.” I’ll let you know when that is also released.

Singers and instrumentalists, your year around commitment is so appreciated. It’s awesome knowing that our summer programming maintains the same excellent quality as it does in the Fall and Spring, It a testimony of your love for the Lord and commitment to excellent ministry.


The Visual Arts team is presently working on our Proverbs Series installation on mainstage. Thanks to Ann and all the team for your continuous work. Also, thanks to Nancy and Alice for the beautiful plants and communion décor that we enjoy on a regular basis. Sue Aunan is the artist presently displaying her excellent art in the Café gallery. Please check in regularly for new art displays. On top of leading the VA team, Ann is also the coordinator for the Atrium Café. Her teams are continuing to provide an amazing ministry to our church with fine coffee’s, muffins, fruit drinks, and yes, even chocolate (try the bug bites… I love em’). When you see Ann and the other baristas, be sure to thank them for all the hours they put into providing excellent ministry week in and week out. If you are interested in serving in this ministry, be sure to contact Ann, I know she is always looking for future baristas!


For the second summer in a row our ministry has a summer intern who is learning the ins and outs of the Arts Ministry at Parkview. This year Eli Suddarth is filling the position. In the Fall Eli will be entering his final year at the University of Iowa. You’ll be seeing Eli in a lot of different positions throughout the summer either playing guitar, running sound, shooting a camera, or leading worship. Eli is a great asset to the ministry and brings an amazing heart for the Lord to all he does. Welcome Eli!


Thanks to the tireless help of Phil Gugliuzza, Bill Christensen, and Don Keiser the Technical Ministry has been charging forward despite the loss of our former Technical Director, Dan Grimes. Thanks guys and all the volunteer teams for doing a fantastic job keeping this ministry moving forward! By the end of the summer we will put plans in place that will transition us from an “Interim” structure toward a more permanent structure. More on that coming later this summer!

If you get the chance, be sure to thank Julie Bates for all she does as the Head Producer for our weekend services. She is now serving in a more “official” capacity this budget year and we so appreciate all she does to keep the services well coordinated and flowing seamlessly. Thanks Julie!


Some Drama Team members are beginning to work on a “next level” drama ministry implementation following the loss of our former Drama Director several months ago. I know all of you drama queens (and kings) out there are getting anxious to serve. Please know that plans are in the works and that I look forward to seeing you in action very soon.


One of the very sweet benefits Parkview extends to the Pastoral staff is a sabbatical policy that allows for 3 months of sabbatical for every 5 years of service at Parkview. This summer I will be taking about one month’s worth of time for some personal R&R and to attend the “Worship God 06” conference at Covenant Life Church in Maryland. My beautiful bride Carrie will join me at the conference. She is my editor, support, and encouragement for all I do in ministry. It will be wonderful getting to share the conference experience with her and getting some long overdue time together and away from the kids (this will be the first time we have been away together for several days without a child since we had our first over 10 years ago!!!)

The dates I will be officially “out of the office” will be July 10-31 and then August 8-14. I am still working out the details, but Parkview will be in more than capable hands with John, Greg, and Eli holding down the “musical fort” for the four weekends I will be out.


As we’ve continued forward with our present weekend service schedule we are discovering some “weaknesses in the system” that, if resolved, will help us be more effective at reaching people and continuing to create more space for our capacity service at 10:15 am. The elders and staff teams are working on some proposed solutions, but we do not yet have a final draft that we feel will be effective at enhancing all the ministry areas. Please stay tuned as we continue to consider ideas, review trends, and get feedback about how we can better facilitate the worship of God through our ministry schedule. We would definitely appreciate your prayers as we wrestle through this process.


Zack and Eryn Durlam along with Julie Bates just wrapped up the Spring ministry season with the Parkview Children’s Choir. The kids add such an amazing energy to our services and have learned so much under their director’s commitment to education and excellence. We look forward to seeing them back in full force after the summer!


I hope you can all join us for our summer Arts Ministry Social on Friday, June 23rd at the Boatman’s ranch north of Iowa City. This will be a time for all the family. At their place you’ll be able to enjoy fishing, fellowship, a hayrack ride, a BBQ, and possibly even a baptism service to end the evening. Outside of meat and beverages, the food will be potluck. We would appreciate your RSVP for the event, so just reply as you get the e-mail within the next week or two. If you have not been baptized since you put your faith in Christ and would be interested in celebrating your baptism with the Arts community, please let us know. If we don’t have enough interest we may put off the baptisms for another time.


Thanks to Barb Alton and her teams for keeping this ministry going so seamlessly. Some of the recordings they make of the weekly teaching at Parkview are going around the world. It’s encouraging knowing that the God’s Word, through the teaching ministry at Parkview, is having such a widespread influence while also continuing to bless so many locally.


I want to thank the Usher and Communion teams for their ministry to us in services. Sometimes these ministries become so familiar to us that we take for granted the immense value they to our weekend worship experience. I feel blessed beyond measure to work with such amazing people in every area of ministry at Parkview.

Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow!!!