Vuvuzela & Cultural Distances

Watching the World Cup this past week has introduced me, along with many Americans, to the Vuvuzela.  This small, inexpensive piece of molded plastic is the deafening noisemaker quickly becoming the soundtrack in my mind for the World Cup experience.  The droning sound is the audio backdrop while announcers call the play-by-play as the world watches (and listens to) this exciting tournament.

As I watched the first USA match I was quickly annoyed by the sound, so I lit up a Google search to find out what the heck was up with that buzzing on my TV.  It was immediately clear that I was not the only one aware of the noise.  FIFA had considered banning the Vuvuzela but had opted not to because it is a large part of South Africa’s cultural engagement with soccer.  Fair enough, but I still find the sound annoying…just sayin’.

With the World Cup being played out in South Africa, this brings back memories of my trips to Johannesburg, South Africa and Lesotho with World Vision.  It was impossible for me to not fall in love with the people there.  They are absolutely beautiful.  I was thinking about the Vuvuzela and how I just don’t get it and that has sparked memories of a couple experiences we had in Africa.  These experiences really exposed how our different cultural backgrounds affect the way we perceive and approach an identical situation.

There were two similar occasions on our trips where we identified a real hardship within extremely poor communities.  Our teams quickly assessed the need and worked out excellent solutions for assistance…at least from our “logical” western perspective.  As we presented our plans to local humanitarian leaders, we were shocked to find that they strongly disagreed with our assessment, not of the need, but of the remedy.  They were grateful that we cared enough to help, but cautious to follow through with the aid only in ways that best served the culture and community.  I completely missed it.

From my enlightened and educated perch, I had observed adversity brought on by desperate conditions.  My ignorance was completely evident in my failure to consider what mattered deeply to the people I wanted to love and assist, their cultural perceptions and reality.  I’m very thankful for the lessons I learned and the people who gently guided me through these sensitive situations.  My tendency is still to rush into assessments and offer up solutions, but these experiences have helped me to find pause and work to consider things from another perspective.

So while I’m not really a fan of the incessant blowing of the Vuvuzela throughout the entire soccer match, I’m definitely cool with adapting and appreciating it for the celebration it is within the African culture.  It’s exciting to see the global community rally around this event and observe competition and kindness exemplified through sportsmanship.

At our house we’re screaming GO USA!!!

14,000,000 Orphans in Africa Because of HIV/AIDS

14,000,000 orphans in Africa because of HIV/AIDS….What are you doing to be part of the solution? http://ow.ly/1YUEH

Ted Haggard Starts A New Church

I just commented on a post from @POTSC about Ted Haggard starting a new church. Check it: http://ow.ly/1TNhG

It’s A New Day…It’s A New Doubt…

I read through something the other day that has gone and got itself stuck in my head.  The essence of what I read was this: when you have absolute certainty, you don’t need faith because you have knowledge.  Faith is only necessary when the outcome is in question…when doubt is present.  Doubt seems to be an essential element of faith and the two kind of work hand-in-hand.

I am just kind of chewing on this right now.  It seems like through my Christian life I’ve been taught that we need to have every answer to every question and can’t ever NOT know the answer.   As I mature and live I’m learning that God is mysterious and we CAN’T know everything about Him or even pretend to understand most things about who He is.   I think it’s powerful to be honest enough to say “I don’t know.”   There’s an appealing authenticity in saying “I don’t know” and maybe even “I’m not sure I believe,” or “I’m not sure why I believe that.”

Clarity is still outside of my complete grasp on this issue, but I’m really enjoying the process of thinking it through.

Your Thoughts???

CCS Worship ::: May 1-2/2010 Weekend Recap

Thought I would share a quick pic from the hotel we stayed at last week in MN.  I’ve never had a hotel give me a rubber ducky before and thought this was hilariously awesome!!!

So, now that I’m kind of in-between things, my schedule has opened up a bit for me to help out different churches as they’ve got the need.  Recently I’ve had the opportunity to get to know David Bauer, worship leader for CCS (Christ’s Church of Scottsdale) and this weekend I was able to give him a small reprieve and lead in his place.

It was treat to play with the guys in the band at CCS.  Pro players who were just a blast to hang out with.  Thats one of the things that I’ve really enjoyed in my time as a touring artist, getting to connect with so many great players.  I’ve also had the pleasure of working with a lot of not-so-great players too…but that’s a story for another day.

Here is the set list:

Today Is The Day (Lincoln Brewster)
All Because Of Jesus (Steve Fee)
Awesome Is The Lord Most High (Jon Abel)
The Stand (Hillsong United)
Amazing Grace, My Chains Are Gone (Chris Tomlin)
Back At My Heart
(Natalie Grant)

Hope your week is filled with rubber ducky’s!

Andy

Chapters

“What makes the better story?  Do that!”

This little quote/motto has kind of become a life precept for me and a silly way that I get my kids and friends to do stupid things.  When faced with even the most mundane situation, I’ll jokingly ask the question while basically implying that we should choose the unconventional and crazy in place of predictable and expected.  You never call your friends to say “Dude, I just made a very rational decision.”  Nope.  You always call your friends and say “You’ll never believe what I just did?” and then hopefully laugh together as you tell some ridiculous story.

Then there are the other times.  The choices we get to make (and some that get made for us) that have huge implications and massive impact in your life.  The part of our story where one chapter ends….the page gets turned….there’s a big bold number at the top of the next page….and the new chapter begins.  Many times this is when faith gets written into our story.

This week marks one chapter closing and another beginning for me and my family.  This was my last week as the Worship Director for Living Streams Church.  Easter was the last weekend that I would serve in that role and now we are looking to God for the “what’s next?”  After many months of dialoging, evaluating, praying and wrestling to discover where the journey is leading, it’s clear to us and the church leadership that now is the time for a shift.  Changes like this are always tough because of friendships and relationships.  Changes like this can also be beautiful because God’s plan for us opens up and we get to chase after His calling on our lives.

We have no doubt that God brought us to Phoenix to serve at Living Streams Church for a very specific purpose and season.  We love the people and staff at this church.  We are so grateful for the life-long friendships we have established here, we are better people because of it.  We also believe God has something exciting and new for us and for this church as we transition forward.

So now, the “what’s next?”  I get to ask my question….what makes the better story? We’re gonna do that!

We’re going to make sure our story is one of faith.  We’re going to watch and listen as God opens and closes doors in front of us.  We’re excited and scared…full of anticipation and wrestling with self-doubts…believing truth and questioning the status quo…and somehow in all of it, we’re uncomfortably comfortable waiting.  We get to teach our kids to trust in God and His plan for our lives as we engage on this adventure together.  We get to live the story of God right now.

Bring It On!

Easter Worship ::: April 2-4/2010 Weekend Recap

Easter in the church world is a pretty big deal.  Lot’s to do and plan for because there are so many people who visit church on this weekend.  It’s kind of a cool opportunity to connect with the people who might only check out a church once or twice a year.  Ultimately it’s a big deal not just because people tend to show up, but because they might be more open to spiritual things and we can introduce them to Jesus.  That’s what motivates me!

We had a Good Friday service to set aside some time to remember and reflect on what Jesus did for us by dying on the cross.  Some worship, communion and an illustrated sermon by our ministry team…pretty sweet.

Good Friday set list:

Jesus Messiah (Chris Tomlin)
The Wonderful Cross (Matt Redman)
The Old Rugged Cross (Traditional Hymn)
Once Again
(Matt Redman)

Saturday was pretty crazy.  I sang in a wedding at the church right before the evening rehearsal and service.  We had to quickly turn the stage and reset to rehearse the band and have service.  Sunday we had a “Sunrise Service” in the courtyard outside which added to the work for our tech team.  It’s funny to me that we call it a sunrise service because the sun has actually been up for almost 2 hours….tradition (insert Fiddler On The Roof tune here.)  Our two main services were packed out and went great.  I love the energy that happens in services on Easter.

Here is the set from our main Easter services:

My Savior Lives (New Life Worship)
Savior (New Life Worship)
Nothing But The Blood (Traditional Hymn & Matt Redman’s Chorus)
Jesus Paid It All (Kristian Stanfill)
Christ The Lord Is Risen Today (Aaron Senseman)
The Saving One
(Starfield)

I absolutely love this new song from Starfield, The Saving One:

“His Love Has Made A Way / The Grave Is Overcome / Jesus Is The Christ / The Saving One”

Happy Easter!