January 29, 2010

Family of Four

Caedmon Jace Logan, born 1-29-10 at 4:09am, weighed in at 8 lbs 9 oz. He's got his daddy's height and his momma's pouty lip; the girls are and forever will be going wild because of that. Liz is doing really well after being induced and having a subsequent 25 hours of labor. She's gotten sleep, I have not (but am looking forward to bedtime). Thanks to everyone who was praying for us, God listened; when it seemed that we'd be inducing for two more full days, she suddenly went into active labor and dialated 7cm in the span of an hour. Caedmon was born not too long after, just a few hours - 45 minutes of pushing (very short).

His name is Gaelic; "Caedmon", the warrior, and "Jace", derivative of "Jason", healer. Warrior-healer. Liz calls him CJ. We pray he lives up to his name.

Pictures via Flickr

January 16, 2010

Music and Mission, part II: Incarnation

I was perusing my files today to filter out the old stuff and noticed an incomplete post for a series I started a while back. If you're interested in the topic, here are links to the first few posts from the series:

Part 1a
Part 1b

And now, we continue the story. Thanks for reading ...

Once I started thinking like this, it occurred to me that perhaps I'd been thinking in all the wrong ways about worship arts. Maybe instead of treating worship as another duty on Sunday, I could use that service as a means to teach the congregation about being missionaries. Maybe, as Neil Cole writes, it was about lowering the bar on church and raising the bar on discipleship. The more I studied, the less I saw wrong with having paid worship staff, so long as they used their positions as pastoral positions. If a church's worship service was less about trying to convince people who are not there why they should be Christians and more about sending the Christians who ARE there to the people who don't want to be, maybe, just maybe, there could be hope for the world yet. To say it another way, I started to take issue with what some called the "attractional" model of church.

God didn't just do the same thing He'd been doing - pillars of fire, large clouds, plagues, prophets who parted the sea - he didn't stay apart from His people, but instead came down to live among them. And not just as a fully-grown adult either, God came down as the Son and spent time growing and living with the first-century Jews. Sometimes, I think, we want our missions and evangelism to look different, to be easier than that - we want to just go in assuming everybody already knows where we stand and call them to repent. That's the story we often tell with our actions, right? We sign big declarations about what we think are important issues, preach sermons about repenting, and have long conversations with each other about "the way of the world," and all the while the people who need to meet Jesus aren't involved in the conversation because it never even occurred to them that the Church might have answers to
their questions. I think if we ignored three of the four gospels, we could continue to think like that, but since we don't just have Mark, but also Matthew, Luke, and John's accounts, we can't ignore this idea of incarnation because it affects SO much of church life. We can't just isolate or even insulate ourselves from the world and then expect it to change; like Jesus, we have to invest ourselves in it, even preparing to pay a heavy price to see change - good change, positive change, godly change - happen.

Israel did this time and time again; they'd isolate themselves from the world around them or they'd use military means to make change happen, and over and over again things didn't seem to work out for them. Worse, they couldn't seem to stick to their own rules! Time and time again, God sent prophets to inform Israel of her misdeeds, of her affront to the poor, the broken, and the downtrodden. God asked Israel to be a light to the world in the midst of darkness, to show the world the way in which they could live well, the way in which they could know God. But instead, Israel continued to forsake that charge. And thus Jesus came.

If our lives are to be imitaitons of Jesus, and if our collective body of churches are the body of Christ, then it stands to reason that our worship services can fit into this story. Churches ought to begin by learning the culture around us, applying it to the way we design services, and using those services to make better disciples of the Christians and non-Christians alike who come.

(to be continued ...)

January 4, 2010


When I was a kid, my parents had this habit of taking me and my sister to a dentist every six months or so. I always wondered if he intentionally tried to fit most of his little tools into my mouth at the time just to see if he could, but by the end of the appointment he’d be satisfied that my teeth were in satisfactory health and give me a new toothbrush and a stern warning to floss better. And if it had been a really good appointment, I’d be told to walk out the door into the lobby and press a doorbell button that lit up a big sign that said “hey hey hey, no decay.” This was a really big deal to the dentists and hygienists that I would be able to press this button.


I mean, nobody expected me to get more teeth, only to keep them healthy. Our basic assumptions tend to be limited to maintenance, not expansion; we don’t expect growth, we expect things to stay just the way they are now. Obviously our experience tells us that a single person can’t actually have more teeth, but aside from that, we think it’s a silly question because we don’t like decay. We don’t like teeth that can rot and cause pain and make us eat only yogurt and applesauce. We don’t like that things break down, that they wear out, that it takes energy and effort to maintain them at their present state. In the science of thermodynamics we call this “dynamic equilibrium,” the way that it takes energy and effort and work to just keep things the way that they are instead of decaying – we call it “entropy.”

It takes an extraordinary amount of effort to keep things at dynamic equilibrium. Your body’s mitochondria, the little powerhouses of your cells, are feverishly working day and night to produce chemical energy, something called ATP, from your food. Furthermore, maintenance requires more than just energy, it also requires your cells to die on a regular basis as they wear out, and are replaced by new versions with new mitochondria and take up the call to keep being a body. When a person’s body decides to stop fighting the entropy, something called static equilibrium begins to take hold. Without all that effort, the body re-equilibrates with the environment around it and the elements begin doing their own thing. Another word for static equilibrium is “death.” When your body stops fighting the decay, it dies.

All this effort to keep one thing going.

But let’s say that my assumptions were different, that I still wanted the world to have more teeth. What would it take? Despite the limitations of my own mouth, there is a way – I could always get together with a girl (she’d have to be a cute girl if I wanted good teeth) and then make a few tiny people that could then grow their own teeth. Speaking from experience – I’ve done it twice now – I can say that it works. There are now more teeth in the world than before.

You can sleep easier tonight.

In order for growth to happen, it requires one to transcend dynamic equilibrium. Massive changes have to take effect in order to reproduce; new hormones are created, entirely new structures are built to house this new creature until it can sustain itself, great amounts of energy are spent in the making. And when at long last the day comes, there is pain and discomfort and separation. We literally cut the two apart sometimes when the growth hasn’t gone exactly according to plan. But in the end, there’s this beautiful new infant, fragile and vulnerable. And the process is still not finished; more energy is poured in, more effort is made to make muscles and bones and organs bigger, brain cells grow and fit into new patterns, and eventually, there is no longer an infant, but a fully capable, mobile adult that can make decisions, laugh, cry, and eat sushi.

God asks us to grow.

See, growth doesn’t happen when we simply try to maintain what we have. Sure, it takes a measured amount of energy to fight decay. But in reality, the amount of energy it takes to fight against decay is best spent growing bigger, in reproducing. In the end, it is in reproducing that we are able to live as a species. But when we reproduce, we cannot make the other into clones of ourselves, we must allow them to be unique, capable on their own, with their own set of gifts and talents. We don’t dictate who they are, God works with them so they can be the best they can be.

If nature is any sort of reflection of God’s intentions – and the scriptures and our tradition resonate that it is – then we are to move beyond simply maintaining ourselves. Life is not, in the end, about us, but about something bigger, more than ourselves. God’s assumptions are not our assumptions. And so our church programs have to give up on being static, because if we try to maintain them just-so in a changing world, we’re simply prolonging the inevitable move to equilibrium. When it’s about keeping it just like it always was, we’re really saying it’s all about us. But if we grow, if we reproduce and allow the children to grow up and think for themselves, we’ve begun to act out something bigger, something grander. We act in the very character of God.

Photo Update

I finally got a chance to post a few new pictures on Flickr. New house, Christmas, and lots of others of Rori. Enjoy.