The Return

Hi Reader(s),

If there's one thing you haven't seen in the last few weeks, it's an update from me. So, buckle up. You're about to hear new things, see new pictures, and experience feelings unexplained ... or you will just read me ramble about my life and leave wondering why you wasted your time. 

In order for me to have one of those blogs that everyone keeps returning to, I need to do two things. A) I need to update more often. Sorry about that. B) I need to include links to interesting, thought-provoking sites that influence your life. And C), I need pictures of my cute daughter:

Ok, let's talk about thought-provocation. I really like Larknews.com. I would love to just leave you with that link and let you visit the site and wonder if all of the stories are true. That would entertain me. But, I'll let you in on a secret: the stories are fabricated. But they're pretty funny. 

Here's another picture of my cute daughter:

 We're about to move into a house! Our lease was up in November at the apartment, which is slowly shrinking with a growing baby and her paraphernalia. We've been doing month to month rent since then, with the intention of either buying, or renting for a year before we buy. In December we put in our 2 month notice, and must be out by Feb 15. Financially, we aren't ready to buy yet, and renting for a year is looking a little disappointing. A family in our church found out about our situation, and offered to let us stay in their house while they are living in Russia for the next year. We can stay as long as we need, or as short as we'd like. They are returning for a 3-4 week trip at the end of July, so our goal is to be in our own place by the time they come back. The best part is that we will only have to pay for utilities. So, this should be a great chance for us to save and really make some good decisions about buying a home this summer. 

Hey! Here's Bella:

The worship leading job is going alright. It's not without its share of frustrations, but I'm learning alot. If nothing else, I'm learning about who I am and what I really want out of life and career. 

Way back in, oh, September maybe, I re-read part of a book I started back in college. I don't think I was quite ready for it then, but the part I read in September, I believe, is for me now. It spoke of missions, and going into other cultures. Basically, the most effective missionaries are not those who go in and try to change the culture of the people they are reaching. The most effective missionaries are those that enter a culture, and help to redeem that culture to Christ. 

For example, imagine if someone went to an African tribe and said, "You can't play your tribal drums or do your tribal dances. The drums have been used to summon evil spirits, so they are evil; your dances use your bodies in inappropriate ways, so they are evil, too. You must, basically, be western in your culture, because that's what I know, and so that's what is best." 

All that does is strip the people of their identity, force them into western thought and practice, and turn them off to the gospel message. Mission failed. 

How much more effective would a missionary be if they were to go into a country and help the natives to use their culture to worship God? What if, now, when they played the drums, they were summoning the Holy Spirit? What if their dances were now used to show the tribe the change that God is doing in their lives, and express their gratitude for how He is changing them? 
I think our own "Christian Culture" is so focused on changing the world, we forget that God is doing work to redeem the world! That's why our contemporary music used to be forbidden in churches. Why is it Ok now? It's because the Church has slowly allowed God to redeem music, rather than try to change the culture. 

Why am I saying all that? Well, first, just in case you hadn't thought of that before. I had to get out and take a walk after I read those things for the first time, to let it all soak in. It's HUGE. What would happen if we stopped trying to change people and start letting God redeem people? 

Secondly, I think that's where my purpose in leading worship at this specific location is found. I'm in an unusual situation where we are moving from more contemporary to more traditional. I had no intentions of doing a traditional worship service when I came on board, but I don't have any say in the situation. I feel that God has me here, though, to help to redeem the traditional elements. I feel like I'm supposed to help teach true, spiritual, worship through traditional songs--to redeem a culture. 

Wanna see my cute daughter, Bella?

Welp, I wrote more than I thought. I don't want to bore you. That's rule number 4 about blogging. Don't bore your reader. If you've got a little time and want to see what I've been doing instead of blogging, look here. And if you are interested in seeing an article with a super cool picture at the top, look no further than here. If you want to hear something I've recorded on lately, check out this album: Patrick Alan Brown - Where You Can Just Be You I played strings on "Shoes Untied." 

Since I haven't really blogged since then, Merry Christmas from my family: