I am on my way home from East Asia with my head full of impressions and ideas. My host told me an old story. Visit East Asia for a week; go home and write a book. Visit East Asia for 9 months; go home and write an article. Stay in East Asia for 5 years, and you will not write anyting. East Asia is large and tremendously varied and all generalizations fail, eventually. But I do want to reflect.
I spent all day at a factory. One of the ways God is growing the church in Asia is to raise up Christian businessmen. They build factories and set aside some of the space for a church, and then hire the pastor to serve the people.
We took a taxi, and a train, and a long car ride down dirty streets lined with factories pumping massive amount of pollution into the air, half-finished homes without heat, and bicycle riders carrying who knows what to market. Something right out of a documentary.
This morning Robin shared with the women at the church. I was brought along for comic relief.
The culture here is very interesting. The men work hard and do not know how to communicate with their wives. As a generalization, most were raised in families where there was no expression of love, and so they never learned how to express themselves to their wives.
We had our first experience with a small house church last night. I have been waiting for some breath-taking, massively emotional, spiritual experience (how American of me), but it never happened. Rather, as I was falling asleep last night and when I awoke, I found myself mulling over the experience; and as I think more about it, it becomes richer and richer.
I have been in Asia now for several days teaching, and my guess is that I am experiencing the normal set of emotions. Confusion with all the new customs. Frustration at the language barrier. Feeling far from home and vulnerable. But we were taken out to dinner at a German restaurant tonight so at least we had some familiar food.
As I sit at 37,000 feet over the Pacific, I am getting a good chance to focus on what I want to see happen over the next 21 days. So as you pray for me and how this trip will impact BT, please keep these things in mind.
Once we have been properly oriented to God with “Our Father in heaven,” we move into the first half of the prayer. The focus here is on God. If I could revert back to my frequent illustration of hiking — it is easy when you start your hike to ask God for things for yourself. Did I bring enough water? Did I remember my compass? Will you keep me safe from bears? It is natural to think of yourself; after all, that’s what you have been doing all these years leading up to the gate. But now it is time to put into practice what you have been learned — life is not about you but about God.
In my ongoing quest to help people understand biblical practices with using biblical language, I come to the issue of prayer. A new believer needs to know what prayer is, and isn’t. But how do you help them see that prayer is merely talking with God, even though they can’t see him and he rarely speaks back audibly.
My default is to go to the idea of conversation within the contact of a relationship, as is true of any relationship. And since I am fond of hiking, I tend to put it in these terms. What do you think? Is this helpful? Any better ideas?
Note: It is good to be back from summer vacation. I tried to keep blogging, but hiking, wake boarding, and doing nothing won out. Good thing. If you recall, I have been blogging my way through my new believer’s curriculum, from www.BiblicalTraining.org/newbelievers. I would appreciate your interaction on this blog as it will help me to make this material better and better. (By the way, as is true of almost everything at BiblicalTraining, the material is free.)
Back to the topic of the Bible (Chapter 4).
Finally, as new believers learn to obey Scripture, they learn to trust it. Trust isn’t a decision. It is something earned over time. You can’t just trust the Bible.