Posted by: John Hall | June 28, 2011

Push Back

I want to strongly object to the use of the term ‘push back’.  Why, I ask, can’t we use the tried and true term – object.  There is a sense of nobility with the term ‘object’ because more is wagered on the outcome.  Are you right or wrong, will you make your case well or poorly?  It seems to me that at the heart of this issue is our society’s desire to be more tolerant.  In certain cases I applaud toleration.  When someone takes your parking spot or the mail is wet – these are times for toleration.  However, I have just finished a masters degree in theology and I feel strongly that that arena in particular is not one for ‘push back’ but for objection.  The problem with the term ‘push back’ is that it seems to imply that you are on the right track, you just need a little push to see things differently, but differently doesn’t necessarily mean better.  Even the sign language for ‘push back’- hands at your side, finger tips up and palms out in a shoving gesture – should be enough to get someone voted off the island.  ‘Push back’ implies, in a special anaemic way, that there is no absolute truth worth striving for.  It’s a passive/aggressive nightmare. Be assured that there is no ‘push back’ in engineering.  But ‘push back’ is a problem in theology.  As I mentioned above the term ‘push back’ passively endorses the notion of toleration, but Christianity and the word toleration should never be used in the same sentence.  The Christian faith hinges on the amazing gift of Christ’s sacrifice.  God loved the world so much and hated sin so much that Jesus came to die in our place.  That doesn’t sound tolerant at all.  The lack of toleration in Christianity doesn’t end there.  Christians are not called to tolerate people who hate them, we’re called to love them and pray for those who persecute us.  We’re not to do this silently but to actively decry injustice and hatred.  Christians are called to protect the weak and helpless by giving ourselves in their place if necessary.  I don’t want to be called a tolerant Christian; instead I want to be more like Christ who gave up everything for me.  He didn’t ‘push back’ and leave me to die in my sin, but he chased me down because he loves me so much.  His actions shook the earth.  I’m not suggesting that one side or another in a Christian debate has a handle on absolute truth to the exclusion of the other.  Our sin and our human limitations ensure that.  We need to be gracious in our debating, but we do need to debate because the stakes are too high for an anaemic push.

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Posted by: John Hall | February 14, 2010

Reflections from China – Huang Shan

This was a gray area in our trip.  Everyone who travels to China seems to go to Huang Shan, but there is surprisingly little information about what to expect when you get there.  Descriptions sound like this, “…archetypal peaks and twisted pines are wreathed in spectral folds of mist, Huang Shan’s idyllic views easily nudge it into the select company of China’s top 10 sights.”  Who wouldn’t want to go?  In fact every one of my wife’s family that have traveled to China has been there too, but still the details were not forthcoming.  We found a vague mention of stairs and packing light but little detailed info like – How far is it from the top of the gondola to the hotel?   Nobody could tell us! Elevation gain, conditions of trails, distance – all seemed to have gotten lost in the ‘spectral folds of mist’. 

Still, we pressed on.  We couldn’t miss one of the top ten sights in China, and so before we left Shanghai I got on the computer and booked our hotel on the top of the mountain.  Staying on the top of the mountain and watching the sunrise is supposed to be an event not to be missed.  On limited information I attempted to pick the hotel that was closest to the top of the gondola.  Then we visited the Shanghai train station to ask questions about where to catch the train and about the tickets before my parent’s arrival.  We felt as prepared as could be expected.   

Our train trip passed pleasantly.  We had a wonderful soft sleeper and met fantastic people on the train who took pleasure in having captive English speakers to practice on.  Just prior to our arrival a few tour operator’s plied the cars selling transportation from the train station to a town close to the mountain.  The deal looked good, we took it and it worked out. They would store our luggage and get us to the base of the mountain.  In addition they informed us that our rolling luggage would not make it up the mountain giving us minutes to repack and downsize to daybags.  On a scale of 1-10 I would rate our panic at that point at about 7.  Overnight clothes, rain jackets, toiletries, Canadian snacks and tea, cameras, and about four pounds of unnecessary equipment got stuffed in bags to go up the mountain. 

Several hours later we arrived at the mountain.  In a light mist we began walking, the peaks were wreathed in clouds, the giant bamboo were swaying gently in a light breeze and it felt like we were entering a scene from a classic Chinese painting.  Soon we arrived at the gondola where we found that the guide book was right about the exorbitant prices for the ride, but not about the crowds.  Apparently the gondola had been upgraded a year earlier and the line-up was non-existent.  Up, up, up through the clouds we rode and eventually topped out at the gondola station where we were faced with two paths – up or down?  We chose down and began the long walk to our hotel.

Even in the clouds the mountain was beautiful with wind blowing the mist through the trees.  Etched into the mountain, the first kilometer or more of the lower path has sheer drops or is totally suspended on beams driven into the mountainside.  Eventually this part of the trail ends and ‘up’ begins.  It was ‘up’ that was our nemesis.  All of us were tired from a restless sleep on the train.  My mom’s knee had been hurt prior to the trip and she required frequent stops, and the rain caused a degree of disappointment in us that seemed to be in stark contrast to the excitement the hordes of camera clicking, loudspeaker toting tour groups exuded as they blocked the path.  Our walk up the mountain became mad dashes to pass tour groups, punctuated by rest that saw the tour group catch us up again. 

It was with great joy that we were told of our close proximity to the hotel.  As I walked those last few steps into the hotel lobby I thought, “O boy! Everything is going to be OK!”  The burden I was feeling for the happiness of our little tour group could finally be laid down.  That’s how I approached the front desk, weary, but with a sense of accomplishment.  I gave them my name and that I had a reservation.  My jaw dropped when the clerk told me that they didn’t have a reservation for ‘Hall’.  I was more than shocked, I was upset – I had paid for the hotel in advance and now I was out the money.  I opened my documents to check the reservation.  Sheepishly I asked, “Is this the Xihai hotel?  “No”, the clerk replied, “Beihai”, she looked amused and pointed down the road.  The groans from everyone when they got up from the plush chairs in the lobby were like daggers in my heart.  (See I’ve learned a thing or two from Chinese drama.)  We reached the hotel about forty minutes later and I’m happy to say had very little in the way of other serious complications. 

I will add, that during our stay the fog never lifted, so for our family the mysteries of Huang Shan will forever remain shrouded in mist.

Posted by: John Hall | November 20, 2009

Taxi Trauma

I closed the door on my parents cab wondering if I would ever see them again.  I could see a look of concern, confusion and fear in their eyes. (At least I thought I saw it.)  According to the guidebook Shanghai has 15 million people.  If this taxi ride didn’t go well the official bean counters would be able to add two badly confused Canadians to the mix.   I swallowed down my worries and tried to tell myself that they’d be all right, but would they? You see a cab will only take four people in China. I know, I know you’d say, “What about all those stories of crowded buses and trains?” and you’d be right about that, but the taxi is ‘special’, and so when faced with trying to get to an historical site, or market on this extended family trip we had to resort to taking two cabs.

We hadn’t thought this difficulty through before our trip, but improvised this system on the spot. Grabbing our travel book we looked up the site we wanted and hoped that it had the name in Chinese writing. If it didn’t, most likely that site would get a miss. Then, with boldness, my wife would ask the driver of the first cab, with my parents in it, to take them to the place that was indicated. If the driver could read, and if he could see (surprising how often that was a challenge), then we were off to the races. All that was needed next was to flag down a second cab and explain where we wanted to go, again. It never worked. Maybe I shouldn’t say never because it was effective at getting us back to our hotel (if we had the hotel’s card). To clarify, it never worked getting us to an historical site or market. At best we would end up within a block of each other, but many times we were several blocks apart, sometimes arriving as much as twenty minutes apart and once we were only saved by a cell phone call. The most effective solution to this problem that we found was to leave from the hotel, then we would make sure that the concierge got the cabs and told the drivers where to go.

PS: I still have my parents.

Posted by: John Hall | February 15, 2009

One Day in Africa

Children of the FloodThe last day and a half had been a whirlwind.  On Thursday night Heidi Baker from Iris Ministries had shared about the severe flooding that Mozambique was experiencing at a regional conference in Kelowna that I was attending.  The news that the world seemed oblivious to, was that thousands of people had been displaced and were living in temporary grass huts with no clothing, food or water.  Some of the young men that she had been a mother to had begun to take it upon themselves to bring whatever they could buy to the masses gathered in temporary camps.  Could anyone come and help, was the cry?  Whatever, or whoever could be mobilized quickly would be welcome.   And so without much forethought my wife booked a ticket for me, loaded me on a plane and sent me off for ten days of who knew what in northern Mozambique on the shores of the Zambezi.

 

The hastily arranged plan was to have a group of fourteen people meet in Maputo then grab a transfer flight to Quelimane, a town in the north,  and finally make a four hour trek by Land Cruiser to a small town called Morrumbala where we would be based on a Word Vision campus.  Hours before I got on the plane our group of fourteen turned into three, with the rest of our crew being made up of young staffers who would drive to Quelimane from the Iris Pemba base.  Flying into Quelimane we could see the massive alluvial plain of the Zambezi, and the vast amounts of water that had transformed the delta into a menace for Zambezia province.  I could tell this was going to be interesting. 

 

The plane landed and the heat blasted us on the black tarmac.  I was back in Africa.  A short walk, a reasonable wait and we had our luggage and were ready for adventure.  A little more waiting (can’t be too anxious in Africa), and we were warmly greeted and whisked off to a crowded Land Cruiser and smiling faces. 

 

A few side trips needed to be made while a flat bed truck was repaired for use in hauling food into the refugee camps.  In the meantime we got to stretch our legs and practice dodging traffic zooming past us in an unusual direction. By about four in the afternoon we were underway and driving out of Quelimane.  As we left the city our attention was drawn to the shoulders of the roads which were crowded with pedestrian traffic.  Bicycles with black sundried fish tied to the back or live chickens strung over the handle bars passed each other frequently. Fish moved into town, and chickens to the country.  Women balanced bags of beans, maize and rice on their heads while moving nimbly in the flow.  Regularly small stacks of citrus fruit, or straw mats marked a vendor trying to make a few dollars from the passers by.  As the houses began to thin on the outside of town so did the flow of traffic.  It didn’t take much longer before people were few and far between, but the road was seldom empty.  Our driver made sure that the occasional country pedestrian was well aware of our passage, pounding on the horn with fervour which created a flurry of activity, sending people diving for the tall grass lining the road.  Giant white cumulus clouds scudded by overhead sometimes massing into massive thunderheads and the greenery had a certain lushness to it that made me think of fresh rain.

 

Soon our paved road became a dirt track and the bench in the back of the Land Rover began to inflict itself on our backsides like a nun in a Catholic school dishing out punishment to boys who had been truant from Mother Africa’s class for too long.  The road might have changed but our speed didn’t alter greatly.  Puddles in the road turned into giant tidal waves of mud and debris, painting the landscape brown.  Corners were taken aggressively sometimes causing us to drift through them.  We were losing the day and the concern was that it wasn’t great to be out in the African bush after dark.  Unfortunately pressing hard sometimes causes accidents and today was no exception.  On a straightaway it happened.  A swerve around a puddle and our back end swung out from under us.  Our driver quickly compensated by steering left but the wobble didn’t leave and the fishtail continued to the right and then back again to the left, but what a left!  Our wheel hit a concrete abutment about a foot high that formed the frame for a small culvert lifting the Land Rover up and tossing us in the back around like rag dolls.  Just as quickly as it had started it stopped and we lay moaning on the floor grasping for understanding, our luggage strewn around our legs.  We were still upright, but were we okay? 

 

A few more minutes to recover and we all piled out to look at the vehicle.  Everything appeared fine on the outside but one glance underneath caused a quick reassessment.  One of the stabilizers, formerly attached to the rear drive train, had been snapped off.  With no alternative we piled back in and started driving.  The vehicles rear end creeped away from the front end at a comical angle and any speed over 15 km/h began to cause other oddities.   A new plan was needed. Bush Road It was decided that we would split into two groups.  One group would continue with the damaged Land Rover and the other undamaged Land Rover, all the luggage and the camion would continue to Morumbala and send help back.  There was still a drive of one and a half hours to make to get to town.  It was about 5:30 and dusk was coming quickly so we piled into the Land Rover and left.  We made good time and were able to get to the little village quickly and dispatch two local pastors to retrieve our friends.  Close to ten or eleven that night the bush saints limped into the compound with the broken Land Rover.  Using practical bush ingenuity they had taken several lengths of binder twine and tied the offending bracket to the rear axle improving performance enough to get the vehicle to its new home.  I retired that night in a bed, thankful to be safe, with the crickets and frogs singing a lullaby.  I thought to myself as I drifted off, “Not bad, for a first day back in Africa”. 

Posted by: John Hall | February 4, 2009

Law and Freedom

Psalm 19:12 “Who can discern his errors?”

One of the best things about knowing God is coming to the realization that he knows me.  It gives me a better perspective on the relationship between law and sin.  He sees everything, every transgression of his law and is, amazingly, still patient with me and loving with me.  I’m much less patient with myself and in the past I have to admit that I’ve let the guilt of my failing push me away from God, but I seee now that it should do the opposite and draw us to him.  I see now that I don’t have to go on a witch hunt or flog myself looking for hidden sins, that’s not his way.  In his time, if I keep an open heart, he brings things up, and if I choose, he removes my sin at his expense.  That kind of freedom helps me understand the psalmists thankfulness and willing submission to God.  I agree with the Psalmist, “The law of the Lord is perfect reviving the soul.” (Ps 19:7)

Posted by: John Hall | November 24, 2008

Walking Together

I’ve heard a lot about walking corporately in the church.  I think these words can sound pretty scary for some people.  It can easily conjure up pictures of automatons droning “Yes master”, and marching in step across the globe.  For others corporately may be misinterpreted as making the church more organized and businesslike.  But what I think the word is trying to convey is a picture of the church walking in unity with each part knowing its function and place. 

 

To me the ultimate picture of walking corporately has been people in community.  Unfortunately, I don’t think true community is possible or available to us until we reach heaven.  One of the best pictures of earthly community is probably in the book of Acts (2:42-47).  It describes the days when the early church were in synch with each other and the Holy Spirit.  But as I thought about it more I began to perceive that walking corporately is probably an intermediary step similar to sanctification at an individual level, but applied to a group on the way to true community. I think this is important to grasp because it’s easy to get disappointed when there is an expectation that isn’t realized.  In this case, community isn’t birthed mature, it’s a process of maturing just like any baby matures in the natural. 

 

I would say that walking corporately is the application of the commands that lead to godliness by the body of Christ to the body.  Some of these commands are things like honoring others, sacrificial love, truth, faith, obedience, abiding in Christ and submission. Walking corporately manifests itself when the people of God realize that God’s call can only be fulfilled as a group: hearing God together, obeying God together, walking in righteousness together, and meeting needs together.  For all of our good let’s get rid of the title ‘walking corporately’ and just call it family.

Posted by: John Hall | November 14, 2008

Sacrifice to Shift

One of the key ingredients in the Kingdom of God is sacrificial love.  One notable characteristic of our culture has been to only sacrifice for oneself.  Sacrifice the chocolate to lose weight, sacrifice the coffee to stop shaking, sacrifice your time to feel good.  Things are changing in some respects as social justice takes on a high profile in society.  (We all love fads)  But Christians are called to walk this path of sacrifice in a much deeper way.  What happens to sacrifice when the cost is too high?  Only people with nothing to lose and who have been given everything can sacrifice in a way that brings lasting change.  But is the church walking like this?

 

Jesus said we would only have life if we lost our lives (Mathew 10:39), and Paul says to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1).  This sacrifice isn’t just so that we can live a better life, feel good, or get a pat on the back from our heavenly Papa but the church has been wooed to this worldly self-oriented perspective. In contrast we repeatedly see in the New Testament that the sacrifices we make are to be made like a kind of covert worship to God, and it’s in this environment of worship that Christ builds his church, because it’s in this spirit that he came (John 4:34-38).  If we follow this concept of worship and sacrifice a little further it’s not hard to see that we arrive at the first and greatest command which is to ‘love God with all our heart, soul and strength’.  We only have something worthy to worship God with if we have received the life of Christ in us. 

 

So, how does this relate to shifting from a worldly paradigm to a Kingdom paradigm of church?  Well I would suggest that the power of God to transform our world and churches rests in our understanding of sacrifice, first Christ’s and then ours.  Christ’s sacrifice overcame hell and death once and for all and the power of this victory is available to us to make Christ known throughout the earth. These two concepts need to be linked because we need to see that Christ’s death and resurrection wasn’t for our benefit, but because of his love.   It helps to see how this victory power came to be ours, and that’s through the sacrificial love of a humble man.  Jesus left heaven emptied himself and became a man and the inverse is true for us.  We empty ourselves of earth (again through grace and the cross) and gain heaven (Christ in us) enabling us to engage the world with sacrificial love, love that doesn’t look out for it’s own gain, but which is only interested in bringing glory to the one who gave us life.  

 

 The power of the cross is only realized in the mission of the cross which is God reconciling man with himself. 

 

(For some profound perspective on Sacrifice see Nov 13 – Utmost for Highest – Oswald Chambers)

Posted by: John Hall | November 13, 2008

Beginning to Shift

Over the last year I’ve become convinced that I need to join or start a simple, locally based, community oriented meeting of lovers of Jesus.  For all intents and purposes –  church.  It’s been a long process, but the final decision to take a step in this direction has come not only in reaction to, but also from a desire to.  

 

In February I wrote down some of the things I desire:

  • I desire to be more connected to others in my neighbourhood
  • I want to be part of a group who is bold in speaking truth as God leads
  • I want to minister in the power of the Kingdom and see freedom come to people captive to sin
  • I want community with accountability
  • I want my church to believe the word of God and the word to transform us and spur us on to be like Jesus
  • I want the presence of God to dwell among us

 

Since I wrote this my list has gotten longer and my thoughts clearer, I hope, but essentially I feel its time to make a move.  I see this sentiment all over the place and there is a buzz going through the Church that a change is afoot.  The Holy Spirit seems to be moving people to change the way they perceive the church.  There is a shift from a church that resembles an organization to a relationally connected body of believers.  This isn’t about the decision to meet in a building or not, but about a shift from an organisational paradigm to a Kingdom paradigm. 

 

If you’re interested check out some of these websites and books.  Also many of you I’m sure, have other books in mind.  Feel free to add your comments.

http://www.cmaresources.org

www.simplechurches.ca

The Living Church – John Stott

The Irresistible Revolution – Shane Claiborne

Blueprint – Jaeson Ma

Posted by: John Hall | November 8, 2008

War

John 13:8  “No’, said Peter, ‘you shall never wash my feet.’  Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

What a hard word Jesus gives to a seemingly noble response to Jesus by Peter.  But this was war.  Two kingdoms clashing.  You see Jesus had laid down everything to save us (Phil 2:5, 7-9).  From his birth to his death he lived as an example of the great exchange.  Humility personified, breaking the dominion of pride.  (See: Jn 5:19, Gal 2:20)  But, truly Jesus was the Messiah, wasn’t he, and worthy of glory?  Peter saw this, and in our world, the formula of pride and power says to exalt the King.  But Jesus is not of this world.  He was in it to reveal his Father’s ways, and to do that he had to be a servant.  He had to lay down the glory that was due him to show us the way of love.  We need to see that this is the first front of our spiritual battle as a follower of Christ.

Posted by: John Hall | September 17, 2009

Colorado Conflict

I recently read a great book of stories from Mark Jenkins who is an adventurer of the first order.  He makes his living by sticking his neck out (I must add in a calculated and professional way) in a response to his passion for the outdoors.  I’m sharing this because these kinds of stories always fuel a fire in me to get out and have my own adventures.  294My adventures don’t have to be as extreme as climbing Everest, but I do have a passion for the outdoors beyond my backyard.  The challenge I find is to overcome the centrifugal force of life in the city.  Usually it helps to find a partner or get an invitation to join something that is going on, and that’s exactly what happened.

Now I’m not saying that I don’t have any adventures.  In fact this summer has been exceptional.  I spent two months in China and another 20 days driving through Washington, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, California and Oregon, but that was family adventure and Mark’s book made me thirst for risk that was missing in the aforementioned.  So it was with great joy on September 6th, a week after returning from Oregon and in the midst of getting the kids ready for their first day of school, that I got the email that is sparking this blog.  It said:  “John, are you back from China? I want to hear about it, but also need to know if you are in any position to join me, Oogie and a bunch of other WT guides paddle/raft the Colorado.  Oogie asked me a few weeks ago and another guy just dropped out, so they’re looking for another person – YOU!”  If you’re married and you get this kind of email from friends after being away from home for most of the summer you cringe to bring it up with you’re wife right?  Well I cringed and then brought it up and surprisingly I got a positive response, which surprised me because we’re talking about a 14 day trip.  In fact everything seemed to look like it was going to work out for me to go.  But as you can tell it didn’t work out.

September 7th

Three balls got lofted into the air in an interesting juggling act.  Let me introduce them.

The first ball: It occurred to me that I’ve been trying to live a lifestyle that invites God into my decisions and even though I felt good about going that this should also be one of those times where I seek His opinion.  For instance when we considered going to China I asked God if he wanted us to go, His answer was ‘yes’ and things came together on that trip in an amazing way.  I don’t ask begrudgingly, or out of a sense of fear but I ask because I love Him and He loves me and wants the best for me.  He is God after all, and as the bible says He can see the beginning from the end.

The second ball:  I like to ask my wife to seek the Lord also, so that our decisions can be made in unity.  When there is unity in our home there is peace and provision so it’s important to me that Wei hears the Lord.  The tension is that when there is a decision to make I want her to give me an answer immediately, but she doesn’t hear like that and it can take a few days of nail biting to get an answer.

The third ball:  In the mornings I read the bible. The morning after I got the invitation I read Jeremiah 42-44.  In these chapters Judah and Jerusalem have just been wiped out by the Babylonians.  Only a small remnant remain and they don’t know what to do so they go to the prophet Jeremiah and say, “ Whether it (the word from the Lord) is favorable or unfavorable we will obey the Lord our God, to whom we are sending you so that it will go well with us for we will obey the Lord our God.” (Jer. 42:6-8)  These chapters didn’t speak to me that day so I carried on and prayed that I would hear the Lord about the trip.

September 8th

Ball 1:  I continue to pray without hearing anything specific, but I felt incredible peace about going.  In my mind I can see myself in the majestic scenery of the Grand Canyon that I witnessed in person just a few weeks previously, but this time from the bottom of the canyon.  I start to go over the procedure for loading a raft on an expedition trip and make a list of questions that I need to ask the trip leader.  In the meantime my friend Dave has emailed me a dozen emails with all the correspondence from the members on the trip, including packing lists, and procedures from put in to take-out.  The momentum is building, I can feel it – soon it will be unstoppable!

Ball 2:  Wei hasn’t woken up yet so I can’t really bug her to pray and give me an answer.  Can I?

Ball 3:  I look at the bible reading for today and realize that I made a mistake on what day I was to read Jeremiah 42-44.  It turns out I should read it today, so I read it again.  It still doesn’t speak to me, but I know that when something like this happens that God is probably trying to get my attention.

September 9th

Ball 1:  I’m finally getting to be a little more calm and so in my prayer time there is peace in my mind and I can listen to God without radical fantasies of oaring down the class four maelstrom of Lava Falls.  In the peace I say, “God can I go on this trip?” and I hear “Yes”.  Yes! Yes! Yes!

Ball 2:  I’m leaving Wei alone.  Past experience has taught me the wisdom in this.  That, and she told me to last night.

Ball 3:  I’m on to a different bible reading today, so luckily I can put the two days of Jeremiah 42-44 behind me.

But later that afternoon the convergence begins.  I ask Wei to spend some time with me praying.  She agrees and after awhile I say, “Have you heard anything yet.”  She says, “No nothing clear”  So I say, “Well I find it helpful to ask out loud.”  So she does, and this is what happens – “God, can John go on this trip?”  God says, “Yes, but you’re asking the wrong question.  You should be asking ‘Should John go on this trip’.  So Wei asks, “Should John go on this trip?” And she hears, “No”.  This information gets related to me with a few groans from my side because I realize that I asked “Can I” not “Should I” as well.  Back on my knees I ask again, “Should I go on this trip Father?”  And I hear, “No”, as well.

I have to tell you the confirmation was painful to take.  It was with great regret that I wrote the email declining to participate on this trip.  The words ‘trip of a lifetime’ kept grinding through my mind, but I want to walk this way with God so what can I say.  It was then that I also got the message from Jeremiah.  When we walk with God, and seek to hear from him, we need to bind ourselves to follow through with whatever he speaks whether we like it or not.  The remnant from Jerusalem did not.  In fact they called Jeremiah a liar after he had spent ten days seeking the Lord on their behalf.  The answer from Jeremiah even seemed like a great deal.  He came to the people and said “If you stay in this land, I will build you up and not tear you down; I will plant you and not uproot you, for I am grieved over the disaster I have inflicted on you.” (Jer. 42:10)  God was going to give them a sweet deal if they would trust him, but sadly they liked their own plan better and quickly got underway for Egypt, all those long dusty miles away.

It hasn’t been easy getting over my disappointment, to be honest if God hadn’t reinforced Jeremiah 42 to me I probably would have gone, but I’m thankful that he has because I know I want to be in this relationship with Him.  If he taught the lesson there is a purpose.  I also believe that my goal is to be like Christ who only did what he saw His Father doing.  It hurts sometimes but I trust that there are other good things that God has in store for me.  In the meantime there may still be a spot available for a person with rafting experience to enjoy a ‘trip of a lifetime’ down the Colorado.

Posted by: John Hall | December 14, 2008

Competing with Wood

“For the Khampas, there are three kinds of men in the world:  the porap is a strong man who crosses the mountain passes to make a name for himself, and who strives to improve his lot in life.  The poting is an average man who makes himself a home, worries about the necessities of life, and ‘competes with wood’ – an inanimate object – to ensure his own victory and so as not to be embarrassed by being outdone.  The pota is a weak man who stays at home and sits by the fire arguing with his mother.”

From The Ancient Tea Horse Road by Jeff Fuchs

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