vamos a cantar

Come, let us sing...

Rehearsal this week was amazing, and I am so looking forward to worship tomorrow!  I've been leading worship for a long time, but tomorrow is a day that holds a bit of new territory: we're doing an entire song in Spanish.

It was a challenge, learning a song in a language I don't speak - but it was a ton of fun (and Pedro says I did okay - yay!).  It will be a challenge, trying to sum up in the 30 seconds or less I usually take for a song intro, why we're doing it, and coaching our people into the moment.  It's new territory for our entire congregation - but it's territory worth entering, and here's why:

1) Singing a song in another language broadens our horizons.  It reminds us that the kingdom of God is so much bigger than just our church - His bride is multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, and wonderfully diverse.  His word says that every tribe and every tongue will one day bow before Him - and singing in another language orients us towards the beauty of that truth.

2) We have families in our congregation whose native language isn't English.  They come every week and sing in English, and they do it cheerfully and with abandon - but it's just love towards our brothers and sisters to sing in their languages, too.

3) One of the things Torch wants to be is "simply different" - we refuse to be a holy huddle.  We are a church that reaches out, and stays focused on reaching the lost.  We're planted in the middle of an area that demographically includes Hispanic families.  If we want to be a neighborhood church - the kind of place where people in our neighborhood feel comfortable just walking in, then there need to be elements of how we do things that make it feel like home to our neighbors.  Singing some of our songs in Spanish sometimes is a way to do that for some of our neighbors.

Sure, there will be people in our congregation who will find it hard to connect during that particular song.  We're going to try to help by singing a song that's familiar and putting the English words on screen along with the Spanish words.  But the truth is, there are always going to be songs that we do/don't connect with, and a lot of the time that's dependent on the season we're in or personal taste/preference in music, etc. - and at the end of the day, worship is about the glory of God, not our subjective whims.  If we truly desire to worship the Lord, and worship is happening around us in another language - we can connect.  We might not understand the words, but we will sense the heart of worship in them - and we can enter into that with our own words or even in joyful, surrendered silence.  And there will be other songs that say everything we wanted to say in better words than we could have ever expressed it, and we'll connect then.

So I'm excited.  Tomorrow is going to be a breakthrough day for a lot of us, for a lot of reasons - and one of those reasons is that our perspective is going to shift a little.  It's going to be amazing.  Hope to see you there!

Life lessons from Zumba: #2 - Don't Think About The Six-Step

One of the steps I've had to learn for a number of routines in Zumba is called the "six-step."  It's literally six steps.  How hard is it to take six steps?

Well - when you're supposed to be twisting from your waist (tighten up those abs!) and moving your arms a certain way, and two of those steps involve crossing your feet, and you're doing it all really fast to music that's in 6/8 time when you've been listening to music in 4/4 all day, and you're thinking really hard about where your feet are supposed to go and trying to watch your instructor and not crash into the person next to you who is also falling over their feet... you might be surprised how challenging those six steps can be.  And you generally end up needing to do 4-8 sets of steps, really, and then transition right into another kind of step, and then transition back into it - and it can all be very confusing.

But here's the key, believe it or not: once you quit thinking about it, it gets a whole lot easier.

Learning the six step is actually as easy as counting to six while not looking at your feet.  I know that sounds crazy.  But it's true.  If I try to think, "right, left, cross, left, right, cross" while watching my feet, I will screw it up.  But if I count to six and keep my eyes on the instructor - it's not that hard.

Life comes with a whole lot of six-step moments.  Moments that arrive and leave you wondering what in the world you're supposed to do next, which direction you're even supposed to be going.  Moments that leave you feeling like you're getting everything wrong, moments where you stumble, moments you wish you'd transitioned into with a little more grace and decorum, and moments you really wish you could transition out of because you just can't figure out what to do right now.  Moments you have over-analyzed your next steps (literally and figuratively) to the point where all you can do is just stop because you have no idea where you are anymore.

In moments like that, there's only one thing to do: Don't Think About The Six-Step.

Quit thinking about it.  Quit overanalyzing it.  Stop.  Look at your Teacher.  Watch the Teacher's feet.  Follow where the Teacher leads.  And if you're still not sure how to get back into the dance - look for the Cross; begin there.  And then just move.  Don't think about it.  Just look at the Teacher and dance.  Do what you see the Teacher doing - all the while keeping your eyes fixed on the Teacher, and not on yourself.  And all of a sudden, you'll find you've mastered the steps.  (The metaphors seem obvious here...)

Now all you have to do is figure out that tricky double-tap-cross salsa step...

"A man's steps are directed by the Lord.  How then can anyone understand his own way?" - Proverbs 20:24

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." - Hebrews 12:1-3

Life lessons from Zumba: #1 - The Five Minute Rule of Survival

There have been moments in just about every Zumba class I've taken so far in which I've pretty much just wanted to die.  I mean, seriously.  What sane woman gets in her car and drives 20 minutes for the privilege of dripping with sweat and looking ridiculous for an hour?  (This is the sort of question I am usually asking myself about 10 minutes in...)

Zumba is hard.  It's fast-paced.  It's intense.  It requires you to be confident.  (More on that in another post.)  It takes a great deal of energy and concentration, and a certain degree of coordination.  And there are moments when the sole thing that prevents me from just quitting in the middle of some of those complicated routines is my concern about what a roomful of women I don't really know would think if I did.  (I realize this is illogical.  And unhealthy.  But hey, it works...)

But here's the thing: no matter how hard a dance is - no matter how tricky the footwork, how complicated the combination, how much my muscles scream in protest, how tired I am, how uncoordinated I am, or how embarrassed I feel - the truth is, it's going to be over in five minutes.  The song will end, we'll take a breather and get a drink of water and we'll move on to something else.  And it might be an easier dance, or it might be one that's even more difficult - but either way, that'll only be five minutes, too.  You can do anything for five minutes.  String twelve sets of five minutes together, and congratulations, you just survived a Zumba class.  Again.  (Insert sense of accomplishment here.)

There are moments in life that are a little like that moment of "Wow, I must be insane" in Zumba class.  There are things that happen that we wish hadn't.  Conversations that don't go well.  Emotions that overwhelm us.  Patterns we can't seem to break.  Trials that feel like they will never end.

But news flash: they will.  They're not here to stay.  This is only a season.  It's a metaphorical five minutes.  You will get through this.

So whatever it is for you - whatever the current trial(s) is(are) - look at those things and remember the Five Minute Rule of Survival:

You can do anything for five minutes.

And when it's over?  You'll have persevered - and won.  It's worth pushing through to get there.

"Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." - 2 Corinthians 7:14