Thursday, September 19, 2013

What IOS are you running?

OK, so I'm not really an Apple guy.  (this is the point where 37% of you stop reading)  But, I do have an iPad that I use quite a bit (not as much as my 7 year old uses it, but that's another post).  Like the rest of the country, nay, world, I am currently waiting for the new operating system to download and re-arrange everything on my device that I just now figured out how to use . . .

It's really got me thinking, there's an incredible spiritual dynamic between what's happening to my iPad and what should be happening in my life.  You see, the operating system isn't really an app, or a program, but it's the complex arrangement of all the codes that make all the apps and programs actually function.  It determines how everything else works.  That should accurately describe our faith.  Our faith shouldn't just be something we activate on Sundays or around certain people . . . something we turn on or off.  Our relationship with God should determine everything about our lives: -What kind of student, parent, spouse we are . . . - How we speak to our children, teachers, strangers . . . - Why we spend our money the way we do . . .

2 Corinthians 5:17 says ". . . anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!"  

Another thing about an operating system -  it isn't really visible most of the time.  Some folks think that they need to be this loud, in your face type of Christian who is constantly blowing up everyone who has a different viewpoint.  The greatest testimony to a good operating system is that everything just works . . .   So, how's that going?  Is your family life demonstrating the Gospel?  Do the people around you see a life that "works?"  I'm not talking about the fake masks we where pretending that everything is rosy, but the genuine life lived by God's principles that genuinely works.  That's what a watching world needs to see.

So, I'm challenged to spend some extra time in the Bible today "downloading" what my life needs to operate properly, and praying to the One who gives me strength to do what's right, for a life that works.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Last China Blog . . . Aug. 4 & 5

"Dinner in an Irish Pub in Beijing, China"
Interesting title for a post - I know.  Its the only place across the street from the hotel that is open at 10:30 pm.  I had been hoping to have a great bowl of cheap noodles, but that place is closed.

Had a full day today.  Visited the forbidden city this morning, rode in a rickshaw through an old Chinese neighborhood, more shopping, and a worship service tonight with all the people from all 3 camps.  Got to hear some great testimonies of Chinese students who came to the Lord through these camps over the last few years and are now fully engaged in spreading the Gospel throughout China. 

In the service was a missionary from N. China who brought a challenge about fishing for men and going where the fishing is good . . . Made the statement that fishing is better and so much more fun when you actually catch something.  That idea will be appearing in a sermon soon . . .

Back to the Irish pub in China. . . Sitting at a counter right at the window overlooking the street and a very cool lightening storm.  I am very excited to go home tomorrow.  I am certainly burdened for this huge country.  My mind is boggled by the enormity of the sheer # of people that don't know about Jesus yet, and unless things change, never will.  Our Chinese brothers and sisters are sharing, and they will be the ones to bring a great harvest to this country, but they need our prayers, help and resourcing. 
Aug. 5 "The Day with Two Sunrises"
I suppose I it's fitting since I started with "the day without a sunset" that we end with a day with two sunrises.  The sun rose this am on Aug 5 in Beijing, then again over Alaska, Aug. 5, on the way back.    I don't know if I'm just super tired, but that's kinda messing with my head at the moment!

When I got back to the States at the airport in Seattle, because of my own oversight in not checking my itinerary, I missed my flight to Denver.  When I've been counting down the hours until I saw my family again, I can't tell you how frustrating it was to be delayed some 6 hours! 

As I ran back and forth in the airport trying to find an airline with an open seat to Denver that night, I was confronted in my spirit with how incredibly angry and foul I was.  I hung up on one customer service person from India who was handling customer service for the Chinese airline that wasn't willing to work with me in getting a new ticket.  I was probably a very poor demonstration of the love and grace of Christ, and I realized how very desperately I need the Gospel in my life - Every day and every hour!

God worked it out for good in the end (like He always does).  Even if I had caught my flight like I was supposed to, I would have been in Denver at 6pm, but my bag didn't arrive until 12:30am!  So, my arrival at 12:15am worked out pretty well . . .

Friday, August 23, 2013

China Blog posts Aug. 1 & 3

Aug. 1
We all went by bus today first to the garden expo, then to the Beijing zoo.  The garden expo was really nice, a huge area that was once a landfill that they turned into a beautiful touristy garden place we could have easily spent all day there.  After lunch we went to the zoo to see the pandas.  Was a little disappointed as I thought there was a baby panda there, but not the case.  Had a good time, lots of walking.  

It was my first experience with a "squatty" port-a-potty!  I certainly won't forget that!

Absolutely beautiful weather today.  We had nice thunderstorms this morning at the expo.  The tour guide folks were very kind and got us loaner umbrellas.  The Chinese are very considerate in these instances!  Nicest weather I've experienced by far, hope its like this when we tour the Great Wall.
Aug. 3
Missed posting a blog from yesterday . . . The end of the trip here is mostly tourist stuff around Beijing.  Yesterday we saw an amazing acrobats show, then this morning we visited the Great Wall.  - very aptly named!  It's incredible!  We got to walk on some parts of the wall that haven't been maintained or repaired, and it really gives you a sense of true ancient times.


Then after that we had tea in a Chinese tea house, then shopped at the "pearl market". 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

China Blog July 31

This morning I led the team's devotion after the campers left. Talked about the 5 challenges David Platt gives at the end of his book "Radical".  Really good stuff.  

Basically have free time the rest of the day.  The rest of the team at this camp has been running camp for 11 or 12 straight days since they arrived in country, so it is certainly well deserved rest time!  

For lunch we went to the train / subway station (huge - pictured below) that's about 4 blocks from the campus.  Lots of American food options there (KFC, MdD's, Burger King, Papa Johns, Starbucks).  I'm not actually craving American food to be honest, so I ate at "Paris Bakery" which had some really good baked goods.  

Walked through "Wu Mart" which is a little grocery store on the way back to campus, bought some chicken feet for a snack to bring back to the kiddos . . .  they'll love that I'm sure!

I've taken the rest of the afternoon to work ahead on my next two sermons.  My goal is when I get back to take a number of days off to recuperate from jet lag and make up for missed time with my family.  I know some might say "haven't you been on vacation for three weeks already?"    Ha ha ha!

I'll be spending the next few days really getting to know the team here better.  It's a pretty wide mix of people, from about 10 years old all the way to about 65, so quite a range of ages and stages of life.  All of us have this in common - a love for The Lord and a desire to use our lives to serve Him.  

Had to move rooms today so I get to bunk on the floor with a couple of the older guys.  Glad I have my air mattress!

Monday, August 19, 2013

China Blog post July 30

Last day of camp today.  I was surprised by the amount of emotion shown by the Chinese. The Americans who have been here the whole time have really done a good job of building relationships.  Time will tell what Gospel seeds were planted, but I know of a few stories of how the Gospel was shared one on one as students asked questions.

Then there's Lisa, the Chinese teacher aide who has become a new sister in Christ.  I was able to give her one of the resource CDs I brought over.  She really seems hungry to know more about The Lord, so hopefully it will be used well.  I had meant to give the few remaining CDs to our interpreter a few days ago, but I couldn't find them in my suitcase when I looked.  I guess God knew I'd need to hang on to at least one.  I have two more, I wonder who else God would have me give them to?
Then there's Randi, the dean of students here.  I got to have a good talk with her today about God.  She's a professing Buddhist but she admitted the only time she prays is like once or twice a year at some festival.  She seems to know a lot about Christianity but I think some of the ones she knows are "professing" much the same as with her Buddhism, so it's hard for her to see the difference.  China is more like America than I realized.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

China Blog July 29 "The view out my window"

The title for this post comes as I look out my window at the school campus where we are doing the English camp.  Just in the buildings i can see from my window I would guess live more than 40,000 people!  And I would wager there are many hundreds of apartment buildings like this in Beijing!  

The mass of humanity here is mind blowing.  And then to realize there are many many cities in China with huge populations such as this.  

Sometimes here in my room I just watch people go by on their daily business.  Across the street is a little trash collection station where the bicycle-cart trash collectors come and dump their loads.   I wonder if any of these people, walking, biking, working, or living in the apartment buildings - do they even know 1 Christian?  In their daily life, do they rub shoulders with someone walking in the Way?  If not, how will they ever know that Christ died for them to free them from a life of sin and the penalty that comes with it?  

Heart breaking . . .  

Saturday, August 17, 2013

China Blog July 27 & 28

Arrived this am at the NewBridge Camp location.  Really a nice facility - it's a higher end private school here in Beijing.  I'm looking forward to some sports activity with the kids, especially since I've done nothing but be in a classroom environment for the entire time here.

I was really blessed by the camp director here, Peyton.  He's only 23, but super sharp and he's been coming to China on trips like this since he was 6, so he certainly has the experience.  He blessed me by having a time of prayer with me for Jordan and his family as soon as I arrived.  Man, when the Body of Christ truly cares for one another its an amazing thing!
July 28
Great day at camp here in Beijing.  Was excited to hear of some of the teachers getting to talk with students who had questions about the Gospel.  They have been hard at work building relationships with these kids for the past ten days and it is paying off.

The evening activity here was the basketball game between Chinese and American.  Americans won!  USA, USA, USA!  It was a good game & we were lucky to have a couple of really good guys.

The camp director here, Peyton, gave a good devotion to the teachers about valuing our salvation in a constant manner, not just as some past decision or transaction.