Monday, October 25, 2004

By the Way, Have You Met ____?

Hey, have you ever wondered about what it will be like in Heaven when Our Lord and the angels introduce us to one another? I am pretty sure they will have to do this since we obviously don't see each other here. I mean we get a glimpse now and then if we are really paying attention and the Light is just right. It seems to me that I have rarely seen anyone. What an eye opening experience it will be to see what exactly it was that Christ was so enamored about. Think about it, for the joy of eternal union with us He endured the cross.
I bring this up only because there was a time when I walked by a lady at church who I did not know and as clear as you are reading this now I heard the Lord say "Woman of righteousness!". It took me by surprise, and yet the next time I went by her it happened again. This started me thinking about how the Lord would introduce His saints if I really let Him. My tendency is to introduce them to Him in prayer, if you know what I mean. This may explain the times when my prayers are ricocheting around the room instead of being gathered in a bowl like incense.
There has been a new and happy trend of late that I hope both continues and amplifies. At first it seemed that it was just the church in Shanghai that brought this on, but yesterday it happened again when we went to church here in S'toon with my wife's cousin and her family. As I entered the sanctuary I found myself beginning to weep inside and barely able to keep it from pouring to the outside. It wasn't the weeping of Christ on the hill looking over Jerusalem either, it was a joyous pride. Weird. I always went under the assumption that God was upset with us as a whole, and was generally weeping for our imminent judgment. While our mistakes are indeed a clear and present danger there is an aspect that I have been missing for all these years. The distinction is drawn down what appears to be a line between grace and holiness. Grace has been the overwhelming winner of the Christian Speaker's Topic award for the last decade at least and has permuted into almost as many different forms as there are denominations. (Ever notice that even a conversation about grace can oft times descend into argument?) I am going to propose an idea here and let you chew it over (My teeth are sore). I believe that grace's main aspect is that of our relationship with God the Father. It carries with it all that is needed to enter into communion with the Father, Son & Holy Ghost. It is indeed a free gift that keeps on giving. The question always arises in the application of holiness, and this is where the line seems to most eyes to begin to appear. Try this on for size, though. Holiness, I believe has everything to do with how we treat one another. When the word says that God is holy it has less to do with whether He smokes, drinks and cusses than it does with how He deports Himself to us. His holiness is a complete and undivided devotion to the objects of His love. Set apart, right? We say that holiness for us is to be set apart completely for God. EEEEEkkkk!!! That means if we apply this same definition to God then He Hhhmmmm. What would it mean then for us to be holy as our Father is holy? Would we not then join in with His devotion for the object of His affection? Wouldn't we strive to see that guy with the annoying point of view the way God sees him, annoying point of view and all. And really, what is so annoying about his point of view anyway. What about all those who seem bent upon living out their faith in a way which at times seems to place them in opposition to us. What about the danger of dissing one of His kids while we are all the time under the same roof, even if that roof is over different churches, parachurches or whatever other gathering we may subscribe to. Oh yeah, that's right, we all live in the same house!!!!! THE SAME HOUSE!!!!!, but I digress. Please do not mistake the emphasis as a pointed finger, because this is the rant within myself of which I bear the responsibility and burden. Most of the passion here comes from my keen sense of personal lack. On the other hand, it is also what fuels my 'pressing on' in Christ.
Thanks for letting me share.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

And I Thought the Smog was Thick in Shanghai!

To any of you who may read this I bid you a fond welcome and hope that you will return the favour as I and my family step back onto native soil. OK, I realise that may be loaded with innuendo, but that is not where I am going. I hope to go to a place where I may walk awake amongst the slumbering. I hope to remain alive in fields of dying. I hope the change will take. What it all means is just that I finally found a piece of life beyond what the home of my birth has offered me for so many years. The only thing I may find frightening is the fact that the treasure is lying right out there in the open. It is in plain view of all as we peer over the lip of the trenches towards the lines of our foe. It lies in the midst of the field of battle.
I hope I will not forget valour.
Lest we forget. (c. AD 33)

Love waved a white flag
And fear ran it through
(the Choir, from the album 'Chase the Kangaroo)

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Longing With Your What??!

I believe in the KJV Paul said it was with the bowels of Christ that he yearned for those he loved from all his travels. A strange sensation really. He didn't say that it was with human affections that he yearned with, but Christ's. Interesting too that he never mentions his family except when he uses familial terms to refer to his fellow sojourners. Not to say he didn't love his fam', but there was a different order of affection for those of the body whom he interacted with. Being away from all of the people I love has caused me to reflect upon this and I have found some of what the apostle was speaking of. While I do not have a host of converts or churches planted there are many fellow sojourners whose lives God has graciously mingled with mine in the mystery of the flesh. We have shared tent pegs for a season, so to speak, as we have made our way in The Way on this turf. I have found that family is one thing, but those with whom I have communed are of a different order. Even Christ said 'Who are my brothers?'. To fellowship again is my deepest desire and the dearest treasure of all my memories. Even in the context of the Sunday morning animal (as one dear brother put it) I feel a deep anticipation. I will see my brothers and sisters gathered and our dear Lord walking amongst them. Many Sundays the Lord allowed me to just look around the place as He pointed out some of His kids and told me how proud He was (and is) of them. He allowed me briefly to see as He sees them and this has become my passion to always see them thusly. How amazingly wonderful is the Body and Bride of our Lord. She is adorned in sacrifice and praise. The stumbling steps of her naivete are astoundingly attractive as she catches His eye and it kindles such desire and hope. She sees in that moment that His eye has never left her and she then briefly understands the Holy.
Understand then my brothers and sisters, your beauty, for truly you are beautiful.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

When It's All Dark...Then What?

Well yes, actually, the travel brochure does mention periods of darkness. It also, if you read it closely, promises times of great difficulty on your journey. Perhaps if you were to actually open it and not just look at the pretty picture on the cover, sir, you would notice these items clearly listed for you. There are also many travel advisories to aid you in surpassing these hazards so as to make it to the destination with fulness of joy. Oh yes, I almost forgot, you also have to leave this travel office to embark upon your journey, the brochure is not your destination after all, is it sir?

How often do I end up in this man's shoes? Too often! As it says in "Waking the Dead" by John Eldridge, I forget that I am at war to obtain the promises spoken. Gee, you'd think with my love for good war movies I would have some understanding that this would be hard. Yet every time the sun sets all I can see is the flash of artillery and the only sounds between explosions are the suspicious night sounds of a possible enemy sneak attack. These are the times when the sunshiney days at the top of the hill of victory seem so far away. Hunkering down in the foxhole there is a lot of time to reflect upon oneself that is not afforded during the rush through the middle of a firefight. The darkness is where the propaganda megaphone is pulled out and the faceless voice taunts you. Even your great victory is dissected into so many pieces that it is difficult to see how you considered it such a sensation. In fact how can you be sure it wasn't actually a planned retreat by your enemy to draw you into this place where you now find yourself? Even dawn's promise comes into question. Hmmm, what did my recruiter tell me to do??


How deep and endless, from my eyes,
Does the gulf of my indigence appear.
And here I find Your great wonder,
The unsearchable fullness of Your giving
Beyond all that my eye can see
Or yet that my want may want;
And when perchance You step within the clouds
Then endless still is the well
Where Your memory dwells
Here I drink of the faith birthed in times of sight
Only to find this faith
Is a harbour in the sea of Your faithfulness
For You gave in time to give against the time
Of all my want.

(Brad Koop-March 21,2003)

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

O.K., Once You're Suspended, Then What?

There is a line from a Rik Leaf song which talks about the fear of hanging suspended in God. I have always loved this line because it so simply captures the essence of our trust in God. So often I have seen myself as standing on some piece of earth next to my Father, but this simple phrase is the reality. I stand on nothing but God. In Him I live and move and have my being. This actually gives me the Mufasah's (See Lion King if you haven't already. Yes even if you don't have kids). The problem seems to lie in precisely that fact of getting the freaky tinglies. It is fun when you know where it is going, like the roller coaster that threatens your involuntary control of certain bodily functions. Here you can see the track ahead and you have some means of preparing for the experience. Not so with God. He has the future well in hand, but He gives us our daily bread. The roller coaster suddenly has no track but that which is right beneath us. Hmmm, I wonder how long the line-up would be for this one? Yet the thrill seekers of our day should be all over this one, don't you think?

PS If you blow the dust away and cut off the mold around the edges Rik actually has a website. We are not sure about his whereabouts but his site is here.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

You Did What??!!

Yes indeed there will be those times in our lives where this question will be put to us. Of course as Jesus said those born of the Spirit will probably have this question put to them more often than anyone. (Check John 3:8 for reference) There should be a definable eccentricity to our lives as we follow our Lord. His footsteps rarely landed in a sequence we would have determined for them and at every turn this question was being put to Him. Family will ask it, even as His family did. The world will minimalise and marginalise it as it did to Him. The religious will scorn, deride, and even attempt to destroy those who live this way. Are we prepared to be the parade of fools? Is it possible that the accusation of drunkard followed our Lord because of His seemingly erratic footsteps and "life choices"? Of course we have the luxury of two thousand years of scholarly debate and saintly insight to help us understand. We have the written word and the Spirit of God to heal our eyes. Back then they could not turn a page or peruse a harmony of the gospels to see that indeed there was a harmony to His every step. Perhaps this safe distance is not so safe after all. Does our life have the marks of the joyous drunken stagger our Lord's bore? Is this blasphemy? I think not. Check the footsteps of His life and try to look at each as if you did not know what was coming next. He obviously did not carry a daytimer. Consider then that His disciples stuck it out with Him even through all of this seeming absurdity. It was the beauty of Christ that captivated them not His sensibility, alas for Judas.
Hmmm, I wonder then what I should do today?

Saturday, May 08, 2004

You Said What??!!!

Well it is official now. They know who I am. I have been discovered.
Yesterday when I went into our main site office to pick up some long-distance phone cards there was someone there who took me aside to talk. Through some broken English and Chinese I was told that the big boss here had made inquiries about my work so far. The reports have been good so far. Problem is, I was told, that there are complexities in the office of which I am not aware. Apparently I had said something to someone about something which had caused a stir and I was being told to be careful. Of course this made me more than curious. We had just recently been told that we were to be communicating more at work and sharing information freely between departments. So what was this all about! Through a translation program on a computer, which only translates single words, not phrases, I asked if it was work things or personal things which I has talked about. The reply was that it was personal things. Suddenly a light came on and I reached over and typed a word on the computer. I asked if it was when I talked about this word in particular and there was a vigourous affirmative which said the nail was hit right on the head. The word I typed was 'God'. I have unofficially been told that my job is in danger here because I have told someone about God. The funniest thing about all this is what God said to me on the way home after work. I actually burst out laughing on the street. God reminded me that when I was in the plane on my way here (China) for the first time He told me that he was sending me to a place where my words mean nothing. Very few people in the office speak very little English so apart from wearing some really tacky t-shirt no one would know that I am a Christian. My translator only translates work related stuff so this would not be an avenue either. So now the enemy has spread the word that there is a Christian in our midst. The problem for him is that God makes us living epistles so now he has drawn attention to a living, breathing letter from God. They would have never known otherwise. God told me, as I was laughing on the street, that a spirit of fear had just revealed himself. Well, we will pray against this demon and ask for wisdom on how to proceed from here at work. The jewel I find in all of this is the joy and confidence of the unchangeable counsel of God. He is never thwarted. I love His ways!

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Say What?

Well, I am attempting to allow for some feedback here. I hope it works. It would give my wife a break if I had other people to bounce my stuff off.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

One Month Later

Well it is a month since the last blog and to anyone who still visits here I apologise for the abscense. The difficulties in blogging from here on ADSL make it a little less attractive than just sending out emails to interested parties. All that being said I think there are some things I should put down here before they are forgotten.
Our lives lately have been capturing more and more of the cross over between worlds and there is a steadily growing realisation of the tenuous grip this physical realm has on reality. I speak of course of the prophetic nature of the people of God and how this impacts our daily lives. Even for those who don't have a real sense of the prophetic call upon the church, or those who think the prophetic is reserved only for biblical heroes and not for today, the reality is the same. We are called living epistles or letters from God to the world, which is what prophecy is, letters from God to a dying world. As such we will find that the context of our lives is (or should be) markedly different than those around us. Our context is the revelation of the risen Christ, and it is to be hoped that this would make us different. In this realm we find that there are numerous messages pouring in from God every day. He desires to direct us in the paths of righteousness, both because Jesus intercedes this desire for us and because many of us pray for this as well. These paths are not just whether we should abstain from various vices but also the acting on variuos virtues. Of course if God had us all act on the same virtue, at the same time, in the same place it would be foolish; it is for this reason that He speaks to us both corporately and individually... we need to know what to do with this Spirit living within us. He is living and active and desires to act for us and through us. This would be incredibly difficult without any kind of daily communication. In fact, in a war, the network of communication is one of the first things to come under attack. Even before the troops are sent onto the field there has been a battle to confuse the communications of the opponent. Spying and espionage are forms of disrupting or misrepresenting communication. Propaganda is also a form of defeating the communication of the opponent by making people believe that what he is saying is a lie. Our enemy also does this to the church, because if he can stop us from hearing from God he can put our troops in disarray. There is a folly in the church today which says that all we need is in the written word. We just need to read it right or listen to the right teachers and we will know what to do in every situation that comes at us. This would be fine if we were fighting a defensive action (Hmmm, maybe this explains a lot?). In this case we would just set up our lines and react to whatever the enemy hurls at us. A defensive action leaves little in the way of mobility and nothing in the way of being more than a conquerer. A defensive action also allows for a static form of communication because the forces being affected are in one place. There may be a call for more troops or air support, but the fort is the hub.
We are meant to be offensive. We need to know how we are to be affecting the situations around us so that they need to react to our prescence on the field of battle. Most of us (I include myself as one in recovery from this thinking) are pretty happy with just reacting to the world. We go about our lives and only when the world gets in our face do we respond. It is kind of like they are prodding a sleeping hobo to see whether they need to take him to the morgue or just usher him out of the park. This is not an attractive lifestyle.
We are starting to walk out something different. Many Christians are starting to walk out something different and it is demanding that we keep our eyes and ears open at all times to what God is asking of us from moment to moment. Our being in China is a solid step in this direction for us. We had been taking little steps of obedience and now we are wanting more. Yesterday as we arrived at an open market to find clothes for a wedding we are going to we saw a man lying on the street. As our taxi drove by to where we would get out I heard God say that if I would go over and offer this man my hand that He would heal him. When we got out I told Cris what I had heard and she was with me 100%. We walked over and here was a man who could not even sit on the sidewalk to beg, he was lying on his side and holding out a begging bowl because his legs did not work at all. I reached out my hand and he extended his free hand to grasp mine. As I looked him in the eye and asked him if he would be healed I knew he would not understand what I was saying. I prayed there for him out loud and told him that the Lord was going to bring one of our brothers or sisters in Christ from the Chinese church to complete the transaction. Cris told me later that as I was praying she heard God say, "I didn't say when I would heal him." We left the man with a large donation for his bowl and the promise of the Holy Spirit for his healing. Now some may be thinking that this story should have ended with a miraculous healing for it to mean anything, but isn't that the problem? We expect something to happen every time. The fear of this not happening keeps us locked up and away from the offensive faith of our fathers. The fear of listening to the Spirit and taking the chance that He might not have in mind what we are expecting keeps us from more than we can ask or imagine. I know this man will be healed, of that there is no question. The other thing that I left off from the end of this story is that after I got up to continue on with my family I clearly heard the Lord say "Thank you." I cannot tell you what that did to me, but I know that I want to hear it again.
To war it is!!!

Saturday, April 03, 2004

A walk on the God side

Today the family went for a walk to soak up the ample sunshine this fine morning. The smog had receded somewhat and the streets even lost some of their customary glummness in the warming rays. People were out on their bikes all over the place....oh, right, that's pretty much normal. Anyway people were out enjoying life and doing their business and some were doing both. As we walked out of the complex where we live on Yaohong Dong Lu we decided to turn in a different direction than usual and strike out for new territory. This was a lot of fun and we saw a few things worth handycamming, sights I mean, cuz every face is worth a handycam. We wlked for two hours in all and went all the way around our block. It is quite a substantial block and our last turn off Wuzhong Lu (Woo-jong) which we thought was going to be YiLi Lu (Ee-Lee) actually turned us into a maze of back streets which were fascinating. There are a myriad of little shops in these out of the way places and we did stop at one little restaurant in a concrete shack which served us delicious little deepfried veggie pancakes for 1RMB a piece (1RMB = .16CAD) out of their "walk-thru" window. As we meandered back to Guyang Lu to head home we noticed something shift in the spirit. I turned and checked with my wife to see if she felt it too and indeed she too noticed something. The Lord told us that what we were feeling was the effect of the prayers we pray along this street. As I walk to work on Guyang I sing prayers and praises to God and my wife and I both pray in tongues regularly as we go here. The Father said there was a corridor being created in the spirit through the spiritual darkness of the place. We are going to be more vigilant than ever in our walking through this city. We want to possess the land not dispossess it. It can be easy to walk in desair as we see the effect of years of spiritual darkness dripping off the skyscrapers and clogging the sewers below where humanity is traffiked for a pitiance to the powers of this place. The question comes then, are we really more than conquerers? If we are, then what all are we conquering? Are we painting the city streets with the high praises of our God or are we ducking through the traffic to get to the sanctity of our homes and churches. Perhaps of all the things I will take away from this time it is the fearlessness to sing in the spirit out loud on the street. To let praises and prayers flow from my lips. Perhaps these songs, psalms and spiritual songs will one day drown out the mechanised music so devoid of human voice. Imagine for a minute if all the street sounds stopped, would there be voices heard or just the indifferent silence bred into us by some false survival instinct? Here I have no words to speak because no one understands, but everyone I see daily on Guyang understands a heart of joy and perceives a door which is open. This is but one weapon in the arsenal of a warrior of the Great King, but one never to be neglected, for as we saw today it bears a great weight in the heavenlies. Sing you saints.
PS Oh yeah, I forgot to mention...I don't sing very well either.

Here's a long overdue poem as well which seems to be on topic.

A 23rd Street Psalm
There was a street
Whose memory was beat
'Neath the soles of mean feet,
And 'twas no mean feat
To erase the hate in the heat
Burning under my feet
In eyes all 'round, indiscrete
Yet even here....I did eat!!!

Monday, March 29, 2004

This Body we remember

I am not sure who all has been to our fotopage and happens to be reading this, but for those in the know we found a church here in Shanghai and it is a big deal for us. It can be difficult, as I have said before, to realise that we are in a communist country right now, and that only a short (by Canadian standards) journey away they are arresting our brothers and sisters and placing them in prison. Some of that fell away though when we went to church this Sunday. The service we went to was for foreign passport holders only and as we approached the gates to go into the church compound there were two policemen just a few meters down the road idly watching the people going in. I have no doubt that they will have in mind certain people who should not be going in. When we entered the sanctuary there was a heavy presence of the Spirit there. For all the charismatics out there I will clarify that there were no outward manifestations of His presence, but just a brooding joy and soveriegn sanctity. I wept. The sweetness came in the flood of realisations about what we were joining. There are people attending from all over the globe; Europe, Africa, North America, Australia, & Asia just from the introduction of the newcomers that Sunday. The Father's children were coming together in a sweet prophetic declaration to the spirit residing over this country, reminding him that from every tongue and tribe and nation God will gather a people unto Himself. There are also people from all different denominations there. We are there because of our need. Here we gather not because of some familiar format, but rather because we are in need. No one we talked to asked what church we are from and I cannot tell you how sweet that was. Again there is a prophetic declaration here for all who will hear it. The last thing I will say is that I really could not have cared less about the format. The chidren of God were gathering and I was there! Friends, we really need to get over ourselves and all this BS about churches, formats, styles and the endless tripe we puff ourselves up over. Like the song we sang that morning says," God loves people more than anything!!!" Maybe we should too.
During the nap I had before the service which started at 4pm I had a dream of having communion and thought perhaps it was a prophetic insight into what was awaiting us. When we didn't actually break bread I was going to dismiss it, but God said not to. Even before I could inquire why I shouldn't He said that this gathering of His body was communion. We shared the elements as we recieved the knowledge of our need. We remembered the breaking of the bread in the joy of the body of unity it won for us. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!!! This is the great rallying cry. There is no blog big enough to contain all His praise when even all the heavens are merely His signature.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Wherever you go....there I AM

Usually we say that wherever you go there you are, but I realise that God says wherever you go there I AM. Sometimes it can be a little awkward though. Times when I am trying to hide from Him, for example, make His never leaving ways somewhat of a hinderance. This is not to say that I fault Him for it, rather I am glad for it because I know it is my flesh that drags me away and my spirit which yearns to return. I see it in my kids all the time. They will go ape and do things they full well know they shouldn't. When they hear my footsteps approach all the air that was rushing out of their lungs in joyous abandon is sucked right back in and they know the gig is up. At this point I am the last person they want to see and my eye is the last place they want to look. Yet after the discipline is done it is into my arms that they fall to be comforted. It is the gleam in my eye they search for that says they are the center of my attention. I cannot say that I understand this paradox, but I do know it to be true.
I am finding in this season of personal turmoil that Dad is speaking to me about being my Dad. The frustrating thing is that I do not know what this looks like. Mostly I stare out of my little cave at Him and pretend that everything is okay. This fear manifests in so many different ways that it would be impossible to catalog it, and any effort would just be a distraction from the real anyway. I do notice, though, that it is insecurity and fear that drives me away from people and ultimately from Dad. I have discovered that the abundant life He promised me is in other people. 'Huh' you say? That is right. The abundant life is in my kids and my wife and it pours over me when I serve and love them. It is in the people on the street when I smile at them rather than give them that same 'No, I won't look at you!' ignorant, eyes forward, indifference. It is in the people at work when I respect their opinions and ideas, cheer their triumphs as well as remember the small personal sadnesses they may feel safe to share. It is in living in this place that I find life. Yet the unfamiliarity of it all, and the sudden new situation that confronts me can shock me back into my cave. I find that this usually occurs when I feel the possibility of rejection. So then I come full circle and look into the eyes of the One who never leaves.
I hope this time I will have the courage to cry.

Friday, March 12, 2004

Well I hope it looks good

Yep, it better look good because being in a censored country has its drawbacks. I can post a blog, but I cannot view it. It is really quite strange after being here for awhile because when you get around the city a bit you realise just how 'uncommunist' it is. There is the same frothing at the mouth consumerism here as anywhere else on the planet and yet a blog may be viewed as subverisive in some way. It is probably a bit of a security blanket or placebo to give the sense of control when really all capitalist hell is breaking loose. When I walk the streets I still get the 'Look' from some people who refuse to crack a smile for a rich foreigner. At first it bothered me, because as we all (or at least some) know rich foreigner is not a term that easily attaches itself. In Canada we were struggling just to have $100 spare bucks in a month to buy a few extras and were living in subsidised housing. With this new job we are finally getting somewhere financially, but the overnight gain feels absurdly awkward most times. So now when these people look at me with the disdain that says I am the cause of the collapse of their glorious system, I respond inside that no, I am not the cause. The cancer is in the human soul, whether capitalist or communist. It is all shit and the human soul will feed on it to its manifest duress. Wherever you find a human, you find a soul capable of the most gruesome acts of cannibalism, whether spiritual or physical. We are never immune to the constant pull. We are dragged away by our own stuff. The only cure is to get near a force greater than our own lust and be dragged away by its gravity. Perhaps I should say His gravity.

Friday, February 20, 2004

Been a long time

Yes, I am still alive and well in China. Every day is something new, and every night is a story time. I cannot say how wonderful this is and how much it has invigorated my faith. When I surf through Christian websites and church stuff (which actually is very rarely these days) I have to chuckle at what I see. It may seem rude, but for the most part the ambiance of these sites gives me a pucker in the posterior. The kind of feeling I get when I don't drink enough water and eat the wrong foods. The trip to the bathroom just isn't the relief it should be and neither are the things I see and read out there. I gotta say that it is so refreshing to get away from all the Churchanese garbage. Now when I say all, I mean all. It has been cool to see some people getting it (Go Pedersons!), but I pray every day for more of us westerners to get 'it'.
I had the privilege the other day to meet with a brother from the homeland the other day who was here on business (He is actually the guy God used to hook us up with this job) and as we talked I realised even more the truth God has been teaching us. We need to drop all the bullshit about who is right and who is wrong and get down to love. Those of us who have been in the camp of those who see the profound emptiness of the Sunday morning ritual and speak of the need for something that really feeds have been all too happy to walk away from the 'herd' in our quest for 'higher truth'. The truth is that we left the Higher Truth when we walked away from the herd. Thankfully the Truth gathers us unto Himself even when He scatters us abroad. Have we truly learned of love?? Have we truly learned from the One who died for the Pharisees. It intrigues me to think that it was a Pharisee and a disciple who took Jesus from the cross and cared for His body not any of the twelve. Hmmm, a Pharisee and a disciple. I believe this is the profound effect of the Truth, it binds across all barriers and unites us in Him. Any other 'truth' is a sadly deformed copy of The Truth. Any truth which leads me away from a brother or sister has already exposed itself by its fruit. His love is found in those who are not like us, whoever us is and whoever those are. I found a profound sadness in what my wife read in a book called 'The Heavenly Man" about Brother Yun of the underground church in China. He said that when the western churches were just sending bibles it was a tremendous blessing, but after awhile some doctrinal broshures began to creep into the shipments, meant for the good of those recieving it of course, and then the theological books began to arrive as well. Since these bibles were not all coming from one church nor were the other 'resources'. The effect was revealing to say the least. Within a short span of time the church leaders began to separate themselves from each other as the doctrinal divisions bore their inevitable fruit. Only the saving grace of our Lord brought them to their senses. You see, these people have had to rely on one another for their lives for so long that all this other shit just couldn't live itself out without being exposed. Division is death, period.
The effect that this time in China is having on us is that we desire to fellowship. You will notice that there is a period after fellowship. We want to be with all who call on the name of the Lord. I couldn't give a rip if they sit the men on one side and the women on the other, or if the raise their hands, or if they only meet in really cool places and do really non-churchy things. I really don't care. What I have realised is that whoever calls on the name of the Lord has the Spirit of the Living God living in them and I must do my utmost to honor His presence there even if the vessel looks like shit to me. Truth is that if He is there then the problem is not with the vessel He is in, the problem is with my eyes. So to whoever reads this I say honestly in Christ that I would love to sit with you and share a meal, and you can pick the place. And to whoever reads this and says no, I will eat with you at the marriage supper soon, either way I still look forward to it.

Monday, January 26, 2004

Where do we go from here?

It would seem, from reading my friend's site, that I am less regular than others at my blogging. I realise that was a painful sentence to read, but the lack of blogging has cramped my grammatical senses. The durations between these blogs are where my life has been fitting in and with recent events being what they are there has been room for little else. There has been room for overwhelming feelings. There has been room for larger than life changes. There has been room for loneliness without solitude. There has been room for little else.
Words usually don't fail me, and I can, with a modicum of aplomb, weasel my way through a conversation as well as the odd blog, but lately words have not been my friends. I don't know how to deal with the sense of imminent separation let alone form it with words. It would be nice to think that this will be just a holiday and then we will come back and all will be as it was, but this is a dream. I realised over the period of my first month in China that God has so connected this body of the Son that I am never truly alone and that even now there may be someone whom the Lord has roused from slumber in Malawi to pray for my family, but what do they look like? Would we know each other in a crowd? Would I know their laugh? Have I felt their tears? I miss brothers and sisters, and I will miss brothers and sisters. Till we're all home let's just love one another, okay?

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

The Fellowship Factor

It has been only a few days since I returned to the placid winter shores of Lake Okanagan from what has long been called the Whore of the Orient. Shanghai, I believe, deserves this title no more or less than anywhere else but that is what it has been called. During my stay there I discovered the profundity of aloneness. This was no mission trip with other salivating evangelicals eager to proselytize the unwashed masses, it was a work term to test the waters before bringing my tribe to live there. I had no contact with any other believers and other than the cheesy Christmas music so ironically blaring through the malls brimming with Chinese shoppers there was no hint of humanitiy's symbolistic efforts to reach Christ. No churches, no dusty religious section in the bookstore, no Hollywood limelighted gospel namedropping, no trappings whatsoever (unless you count the strangly figured fat man in red). From this particularly isolated vantage point I found that many of the residual misgivings I had about the overwrought organised church and its Sunday morning oddities were exposed to the elements and could no longer hold their form. I may have fought this at first with all the self-righteous fervor and zeal I could muster in the face of the gale, but to no avail. I thought perhaps it was just homesickness at best or a perverted sense of culture shock at worst, but this too blew away. When I descended from my isolated abode I bore within my hands a purer revelation than ever I had known before. In a tiny way I understand now how Paul could say that he yearned for the people of the churches with the bowels of Christ. I forget sometimes that these people too were organised in a fashion they could understand, they too had their odd little rituals that some of the crew thought to be too confining. They had all the shitty little quarrels and petty striving we know, and yet Paul yearned for them with the bowels of Christ. I have discovered that the thing of it is that he yearned for the people. The people. I yearned for the people. I found that all the other shit didn't matter. I found that even that worship guy who plays all the wrong music would have been a most welcome sight on the streets of Shanghai. The pastor who seems elevated and esteemed in his own eyes would have been most welcome at my table. I found that the people are all that I cared about. After all, this is where the Spirit of Christ resides.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

A Little More Poetry

Hey, here I am still in Shanghai and the days are passing slowly in the drizzle. I can't tell if the clouds are low or the smog is thick, but there is a dreariness that surpasses even this Fraser Valley boy's experience. The cool thing is that the heart is still pumping the juice of life, and the brain is still recieving signals from Papa so my spirit is lifted.

The Streets of Psalm 23
There was a street
Whose memory was beat
'Neath the souls of mean feet
And 'twas no mean feat
To erase the hate in the heat
Burning beneath my feet
In eyes all 'round, indiscrete
Hard like broken concrete
Yet even here....I did eat!
(Brad Koop Jan 2004)