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
Since we’re in the middle of the Christmas season, my kids have organized, refined, amended & advertised their wish lists version 4.5. Here’s an interesting twist: what if Santa had a wish list? What would Santa’s wish list look like? Perhaps Santa would like a chia pet or a vegamatic chopper ,)
More likely, Santa probably wants his reindeer & elves to work together without strife & division. If you think about it, both the reindeer & elves have some hefty responsibilities & the last thing Santa would want to deal with would be conflict among the elves or dissension with the reindeer. Perhaps our Heavenly Father has the same thing on His wish list this Christmas – maybe our Heavenly Father would be super pleased if the strife & conflict with His children was reduced or even eliminated. Let’s you & me make this goal (harmony with each other) one of our priorities so God can check this one off of His wish list – peace on earth & good will among men 🙂
I’m in the midst of trying to lose some weight that I’ve put on over the course of the last year – blech. So of course I’ve been doing the exercise & more healthy eating thing & thankfully, I’m slowly making progress, which is rewarding 😉
But here’s something that I’ve been thinking about: we can put short term rewards in front of us for helpful motivation, but lets think in terms of something more long term. For example, it helps when I put on my pants, that it’s not quite the same wrestling match – but the long term goal is that I’m more consistent w my exercise & disciplined w my eating.
Lets consider letting the short term rewards position us for more long term benefits, and play lots of basketball in the meantime ,)
From time to time, I like to have people over for dinner & to make a nice meal. My goal is to have some nice fellowship time, to relax and enjoy their company. My goal isn’t to impress them with any cooking skill – if I was doing that, we’d probably need to take them to a nice restaurant. I’m not trying to present a pristine house that is as well kept as a museum or mausoleum. I’m also not trying to make my family seem like they’re people different than who they really are. My goal is simply to have some great fellowship & hopefully the food won’t be a disastrous distraction 🙂
Sometimes in life, I have to be careful to think about my goals & I find that I ask myself some important questions from time to time:
what is my motivation? Am I behaving based on an insecurity or a false perception?
what do I really want? Image can sometimes be an elusive adventure into empty froth
what is God saying in the midst of all of this? Am I pursuing the results of God’s presence or Their actual presence?
I like it in 2 Cor 5:9 where Paul says that he makes it his goal to please Christ – sounds like a noble & good goal to me 🙂
I grew up as a pastor’s kid & there were lots of positive things about that – people seemed to be extra nice, they’d give me more candy, I had the privilege of meeting some really cool people, etc. One thing that is tricky for every pastor’s kid (and probably for everyone on the planet) is the idea of living up to someone else’s expectations & then dealing the the fallout from someone’s disappointment. This is a difficult path to navigate for anyone, despite their age, background or experience. But here’s my sense on this topic: lots of people have lots of different expectations of me. Some of these expectations are sensible and some are silly. At the end of the day, when the dust settles, the one I most want to please is Jesus Christ and He already thinks I’m really cool. So with this in mind, I know that I will disappoint people from time to time & I won’t meet everyone’s expectations, nor should I. But I want to live to bring my Savior fame, pleasure & honor – all very noble, healthy & constructive goals 🙂
As we finish up 2011, many of us will take a few minutes to reflect on the events of this year & possibly consider some plans / thoughts for 2012. Sometimes its easy to get stuck on the past, but something that helps me to keep moving forward is to be thankful – thankful for the events that have helped me grow, thankful for the relationships that have encouraged me to love more genuinely, thankful for the achievements that couldn’t have happened without God’s help & more!
Another thing that helps me to grow is to not always think of the massive projects that I want to accomplish, but to rather think of things in smaller sizes. I most certainly have REALLY BIG DREAMS in my heart & if I’m not careful, the size of these dreams can be overwhelming. But when I consider these dreams on a day-by-day basis, making little steps toward these dreams on a daily basis, they’re not so overpowering. Indeed, perhaps the journey is equally as important to God as the destination. Happy New Year!!
Sometimes it seems like my life is filled with impossibilities – things I want to accomplish, but they seem almost stupid to consider because of the difficulties associated with these things. One of these things is my dream with Saving Moses to see Night Care become a multiplied reality throughout all of Asia (Night care is the care & oversight for infants & toddlers during the evening hours while their moms are working in prostitution. On this topic, please do not judge the importance of this project, based on the profession of these moms). Nevertheless, many of these dreams & goals seem more than lofty – they seem impossible, when I only look at them.
However, when I look at these dreams in the context of my loving Heavenly Father, I sometimes feel like my dreams are too small, based on the immensity of my Father. So in this conundrum, I find myself taking one day at a time, making a little progress here & there, but knowing in my heart that no dream is impossible with God, including yours!!
Recently, I heard a song about wanting more of God in our lives. I was really enjoying the song when I felt the Holy Spirit interrupt my bliss & tell me that I couldn’t get more of God in my life until I freed up some capacity. I didn’t really understand what I was hearing until I began to think about the things that I have going on in my life – both essentials & non-essentials.
Most of us lead busy lives. We fill up our time, spend our energies, “invest” our money, give our attention & focus to lots of things (some important & some not important). We all know that we have limited amounts of time, energy, focus, money, etc. So the question that could be valuable for our consideration is related to how we spend the limited amounts of time, etc. If we want more of God, let’s consider how we can make space for Him in our lives. Maybe we could shuffle some of our sched to snag a few extra minutes to spend w God. Could you give Him a little more attention by putting some Bible verses in cards & posting them in your car or on the bathrm mirror, etc? Would you consider asking God to adjust your desires to more accurately reflect what pleases Him?
These are just some ideas that you might find helpful in creating more space for God in your life.
The destination to “more of God” is on the road called, “less of me”. Not many make the journey bc of the personal expense.
I think God gets blamed for alot of bad decisions, egos gone awry, human initiatives draped in religious verbage and other silliness. This morning, I read about the Israelites deciding to try & conquer the Promised Land after their royal disaster w the 12 spies & their bad report. In Deut 1:43, it says, “So I spoke to you; yet you would not listen, but rebelled against the command of the LORD, and presumptuously went up into the mountain.” The Israelites presumed they could conquer the Promised Land even though God wasn’t w them & they were thoroughly routed. They thought they were something that they were not. Sometimes ambition without divine intervention can do that to us. We can get pretty high on ourselves – all of that & a bag of chips!
After getting knocked down several times, royally screwing up from time to time & often sticking my foot in my mouth, among many other humorous antics too numerous & embarassing to enumerate, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is enough for me to aim at knowing Christ, full stop. It is my ambition, my life goal, to know Christ and to know Christ in the context of daily living. I think that’s enough.