How’s that for a stupid question!?!! I don’t start anything with the intent to fail & I most certainly do not like to fail, full stop. But some of my thinking about success has been changing & I’m becoming more aware that many of my ideas about success have been more influenced by my American culture rather than the Bible. My culture says that success is all about being bigger, better, more, power, stronger, wealthy, popular, image driven, new, hip, trendy & all things glitz & glam. In the American culture, success isn’t about being broken, serving, homely, unpopular or tarnished, some of the things that Jesus personified & taught. The more I think about success from a cultural versus a biblical perspective, I have to conclude that my culture and the Bible don’t always agree. The important part of the disagreement is the side on which I chose to live. If I have to chose between being successful based on the Bible or on my culture, I’m going to side with the biblical definition of success 🙂
Yesterday, I had the honor of attending a church service in Ethiopia & I had an incredible experience during part of their worship – off the chain! Ok, here’s the deal: I LOVE praise & worship and I’ve been extremely blessed to join in fantastic worship services literally around the world for more than 3decades & what I experienced yesterday was nothing less than OUTRAGEOUS.
There was a really large group that had traditional instruments & dressed in the traditional orthodox attire, starting off with what seemed like a nice cultural presentation & just when I was settling in to enjoy some nice historical Ethiopian tradition, I lost the plot because I could sense the Holy Spirit in such intensity that I still can’t find adequate words, almost 24 hours later.
Yesterday’s experience was completely inundated with God’s presence & it had nothing about it that is modernly familiar or “normal”: no guitars, keyboards or synthesizers. There was 1 ancient calfskin drum played by a girl, no microphones or anyone addressing the audience. Instead, there were probably 50 or so men & women completely & passionately focused on giving praise to God, the Community of love. They sang & danced with 100% commitment no matter what the people watching were doing. As a result, I found myself totally dialed into focusing on God, joining with them to exalt & honor God.
Let me just say that there are many ways & expressions to worshipping God. Don’t fall into the trap that you need lights, cool music, trendy dressed leaders, mixes that appeal to your music preferences, perfectly regulated temperatures & a comfortable seat / environment to exalt our Creator. While these things can be very nice, let’s keep our focus, passion & intent purely devoted to lifting up the Lover of our soul. Clean, pure, intense & totally devoted worship, full stop
This has been a pretty amazing trip so far with lots of different experiences & feelings. It’s been completely outrageous getting to have my family around, ministering, enjoying the culture with me & watching them fall in love with this fantastic country and people in their own unique ways. It’s interesting to watch them individually process the various experiences, challenges & opportunities. My kids were initially put off with the massive differences & now they seem pretty relaxed & almost casual about adjusting into this culture. My husband goes into his uber friendly & curious mode making all kinds of interesting observations & acquaintances.
I like to watch all of this because everyone has their own unique ways of adjusting & enjoying these experiences. They make the trip a much richer & diverse experience for me as their mom & wife.
So today, some of them have gone touring up to Siem Reap & one of my kids is staying with me to do some more work with Saving Moses. My thought on this is that while I’m COMPLETELY enjoying my family & our experiences, I also want to be engaged with I believe is disturbing to God’s heart – giving genuine love in places of indescribable horror & evil.
Needless to say, this trip is nothing less than amazing
I’ve had the massive privilege of getting to travel alot in my life & this privilege means that I’ve experienced a really WIDE ARRAY of cultures & diversity. It’s interesting that what we Americans get uptight about for culturally acceptable isn’t the same for many other cultures. For example, it’s TOTALLY uncool to pick your teeth in China, but not a big deal to pick your nose – interesting differences.
Here’s my point, the true culture of Christianity according to John 13:35 is genuine love. As a follower of Jesus, my native culture is genuine love – water to my gills, air to my lungs, light to my eyes & touch in my heart. I want to live in genuine love, bringing my native culture throughout each day & interaction.
This past week, I had the great honor of getting to hang out with my friends & make new friends in Cambodia. What’s strange today is that I’m fully comfortable in Cambodia eating hot noodle soup on a hot day in Cambodia, making great friends, sharing deep struggles and desires, as well as navigating traffic that by US standards would be nothing short of deadly. I’m thinking of this all now in contrast as I sit in a starbucks in my US world. It seems like I can live in diverse worlds but I think that in order to be effective in any world, I must live in the infinite context of genuine love. Truly, it seems like the most effective way to live in any world is through living in genuine love 🙂