Travel in the new culture

Photo i have taken myself, for the "jeepn...

Photo i have taken myself, for the “jeepney” gallery. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For those of you who have just joined us –welcome. Let me explain the things us ramblers are chatting about. We are looking at the way God is bringing us from an old culture into a kingdom culture. To help us do this we are looking at the Philippine culture and seeing what God is saying to us through it.

With the heat soaring up to 100°F and humidity around 80% the Filipinos find it uncomfortable to walk. It was amusing trying to explain to our Filipino friends that some Britains enjoy walking for fun – they couldn’t believe it. Because few people walk in Manila there are lots of differing transport to choose from. You may want to travel on a Jeepney, a taxi, a tricycle, a motorbike, car, horse and cart, bicycle or coach. Take your pick. The roads in Manila are full of traffic, swerving, beeping their horns and finding their way from A to B. The road markings are guidelines and marked lanes are not mandatory. Vehicles are joining roads, changing lanes, overtaking and turning from everywhere, it is a real experience to see!

If you did choose to walk along the roadside there are rarely pavements. There may be one for a while and then a few market stalls, or a ditch with rubbish in, or it might just disappear.

The journey in this new culture, we have been exploring together, is different from anything we have experienced before. There is not someone telling us where to go, what to believe and what to do. In my Christian walk I feel that I have always had authorities giving me white lines to travel within, markers that define what I think and how I should behave. There has been temptation to clone thinking and behaviour, to count as dangerous or an alien anyone with differing thoughts and to restrict movement so that it is containable. Now I feel the white lines are optional. I can choose, think and behave according to the real me.

No longer are we travelling on mass. There is still unity, still co-hesion, but there is also a new freedom to explore. Some may wish to take a Jeepney to the market, others a tricycle to the mall, others a taxi to eat out. Different groups of people have the freedom to go where they want without judgement.

Even those that chose to travel together they will not find they walk in single line behind a leader. They will explore different things and come back to share what they have found. One may go to the cloth stall to feel and explore the colours, one may go to the bakery to try the cakes, one may go to the book stall to find some further knowledge – then the individuals will cross paths, share stories and perhaps take each other to the best places. The adventures then meet up with a unity of spirit to share the exciting treasures and truths they have found together.

What stops this turning into chaos? It is the heart connection. The honouring and respecting of authority that pulls everyone together and sets a direction for the next area of exploration. For the desire of the travellers to honour each other and put each other first. Togetherness is no longer the fact that everyone is in the same room doing the same thing, but a connection of heart in their various stages of advance. It is being real, honest and sharing a common vision and purpose. There is a compass of God’s word, there is a direction to head for, but there are ways of exploring all that Jesus has done for us.

Today: What area of God are you exploring right now? Why is it you are exploring that? Who are you meeting with to share your new found treasures?

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Changing the Atmosphere

philippine-eagle_flyFor those of you who have just joined us –welcome. Let me explain the things us ramblers are chatting about. We are looking at the way God is bringing us from an old culture into a kingdom culture. To help us do this we are looking at the Philippine culture and seeing what God is saying to us through it.

Atmosphere  

When you enter Manila you notice the dust filling the air. It lands everywhere. You also notice the business in the city of Manila from 4am until early the next morning. There are stalls selling goods, people transporting things, cooking, mending and sweeping etc.

God has been showing us the kingdom culture has to do with resting and waiting on him. We imbibe the business of our society, especially in the UK– feel we need to be busy to be valued.

“Doing is where I have found solace sometimes. I can find or hide myself in doing. I can find on days when I am angry, upset or confused that I just want to clean and tidy – or do something to distract myself. I must ask myself do I measure my self-worth by what I achieve, by being busy? I have notice that when people greet each other they ask “What have you been doing?” The underlying message is “How have you demonstrated your usefulness? What have you achieved? Are you worthwhile? We give labels we give ourselves as doers as this adds meaning to our life – I am a gardener, a cleaner, a children’s worker, a steward etc. Business is not godliness.” from May 17th blog post

Let’s take a look at the eagle

But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

The eagle doesn’t flap it soars. (There is a fantastic sermon on this by Ern Baxter. He is a man whose sermons forged my early Christian life. The friends I babysat for leant me a tape per week. His sermon Eagle Life on Wings speaks about living like eagles. You can hear it here: http://www.brokenbreadteaching.org/Ernbaxterpage_files/Teaching%20List/Ern%20Baxter%20List%20BY%20SERIES.htm) .

The Philippines national bird is the Philippine Eagle. I saw a couple last year chained up in yards as pets. They did not look grand, they were not soaring, they were not rising above the clouds they were scrabbling along the ground and sheltering away from the relentless rain. They they were born to be Eagles but they were living as slaves. I was so moved by their plight.

We were born to be grand eagles. Yet too often we are chained up or scrabbling on the ground like chickens for scraps. We shelter ourselves from rain rather than rising above the clouds. It is time to be soarers not flappers. Eagles do not flap, they do not create their own momentum, but instead they use thermal currants to lift them up. They just need to position themselves well, open their wing and ride the ascending air. Those who live in peace live positioned with the wind of the spirit under their wings. Finding the currents of heaven and rising upwards on them. They do not scrabble on the ground, they fly high over other birds a get an overall view of the landscape. They are not shocked by what is coming around the corner and they rise about restricting avenues. Let’s be like the eagle.

This culture also causes people to be thirsty, it is hot and dusty. The grit and heat of the day gets stuck in our throat, makes us feel tired and weary. It can sap our energy, our will and our desires. It can cause us to lose the taste for things Do we plod on thinking that we have to live constantly on the edge of dreary or does it drive us to long for the cool waters of the Spirit. In this culture the Spirit flows freely and the presence of God is tangible. It is up to us to drink, up to us to meet with him, up to us to stand under the cool refreshing waters.

Those full of the Holy Spirit have a great power inside. He who is greater in you is greater than he who is in the world. This inside communion causes a change of atmosphere inside us. In this atmosphere is heaven’s joy, peace, hope, life and it bubbles till it leaks out of us wherever we go. When we are full of heaven’s atmosphere within and we then open our mouths the force of the atmosphere we are creating within us causes a change to happen outside us. We are no longer affected by the atmosphere around us as the internal atmosphere is a greater pressure than the pressure on the outside. Try crushing a coke can when it is upright –you can’t because of the pressure inside.

We see all this beautifully played out in the story of Jesus in the storm. Jesus is asleep in the boat whilst a horrendous storm raged outside. His internal atmosphere was one of peace and security. When the disciples woke him in a panic he walked up onto the deck and said “Peace, be still.” What was Jesus doing? He was opening His mouth to let the atmosphere inside rush out to bring peace and security to the atmosphere outside him. He was overflowing peace in a tangible way.  This is how we share the gospel. We overflow the atmosphere of our hearts into people’s lives.

I see this most praying for non-Christians. By laying on of hands and speaking the friend will often burst into tears being impacted by the overflow in your own heart. We are called to live everyday lives filling the atmosphere with the presence of God.

Today: think what atmosphere are you cultivating in your heart? When you speak out at home and at work what change happens to the atmosphere? What overflow are you bringing? Does this need altering? How are you going to change it?

Back in Manila

If you take a camera out you get a crowd!! :P

If you take a camera out you get a crowd!! 😛

The House of Grace children sing for Mother's Day

The House of Grace children sing for Mother’s Day

Yesterday we flew back on the plane from Palawan to Manila. We were delayed by 2 hours so arrived just gone 3pm after having left the hotel at 9.30am. We were scheduled to meet with groups in the afternoon and evening. I met with the New Day and we talked about being loved, walking with God and leaning into his presence. We spent some time hearing his voice and practically learning how to prophecy. I then wanted them to just relax in God’s love and learn to lean in to hear him and feel his presence. As I sung and we started to worship the presence of God came down very heavily. We sang in the Spirit but a lot of the time we just sat. It was a precious time together. Trevor spent time with a leadership discipleship group sharing heart on being intimate with God. He says he had a good time with them. In the evening I had the privilege to spend time with the worship group for a meal. I shared heart on what God was doing in the church at the moment. The importance of learning to rest in God presence and soak him up. It was a beneficial time. I gave Eden and Fe the book ‘Culture of Honour’ after we first arrived in Manila and she said she can’t put it down it is blowing her mind. It is all she dreamt the church should be like. Trevor wasn’t with me that night as his stomach is not good – so please pray for him. This morning we met with the church in Manila. It was lovely seeing everyone again and I was very excited as to what God would do. Fe lead a great time of praise and worship, Trevor preached a good word about meeting God face to face. It isn’t enough to hear his voice we need to press in until we meet with Him face to face like Moses did. I then sang ‘I see your face its beautiful’ and again the spirit came and started to touch lives. We prayed and ministered to those who wanted to press in further. God is so good and loving. After all this we had a media presentation and song by the children as it is mother’s day here. We all got a fold away fan and chocolate!! It was lovely and very touching. Then came the photos!! How New Day love having their photo taken!

Two visits in one day

Today was a real eye opener.

This morning we visited the City Refuge for children. It houses abandoned or rescued children. Some rescued from the street, others rescued from abuse and bad situations. The refuge is meant to be a short term station but some children have been there for 5 years. There were several special needs children who were happy and very tactile.

Lucchi was our leader for this session. She prayed, then we sang some songs. I played the guitar and sang ‘Jesus love is very wonderful’ and ‘Whose the king of the jungle?’. They the children taught us their favourite a Filipino song. Lucchi taught them the story of the tower of Babel, she is a gifted story teller. We finished with a game of human skittles and then colouring. It wasn’t easy running around in the heat today – but we managed it. They took us to see an abandoned baby called Devine. She had encephalitis and a growth on her face. She had an operation recently and now needs another. It will cost 4 thousand pounds and they do not have a sponsor, so she lies on the bed and the refuge do what they can to keep her comfortable.

We went for lunch with Lucchi, Sara and Duncan. They explained more of the situation in the refuge, how they set the Father’s Heart up and their ideas for the future. To finish the meal we prayed together.

In the afternoon we went to visit the Badjao tribe. They are fishermen and live in houses on stilts in the harbour. To get from house to house they have built ‘bridges’- planks of random wood over a quagmire of rubbish and sewage. There are a few families that Duncan and Sara work with here. We wobbled our way (or was that just me) across the planks only to find a wedding celebrations in full swing. There was Filipino dancing that even Duncan said he had never seen before – it was quite Arabian in style. They all wanted their picture taken- especially the guys playing keyboard and singing! We then wobbled along till we had to cross the quagmire on two bamboo poles with nothing to hold onto! One cracked when I stood on it!  My heart was racing. I really didn’t want to end up in the sewage below.

We spent some time in one family’s house. The floor is just strips of bamboo nailed to planks of wood and you can see right through the floor to the water below. This floor gives under the weight of you when you step onto it. Duncan talked to the kids about their teeth. Many have such poor teeth that they pull the rotten teeth out themselves or with friends. He is trying to get them access to dental care. This means for many false teeth to fill the gaps.

When we came back we drove past the grounds of what once was a POW camp. It is now a memorial garden. The 250 American POWs were forced to build the runway to land on here in Palawan. When the Japanese heard they were just about to lose the war they killed them all in a horrific way. 10 of them saw the preparations for their demise and build an escape tunnel -7 got out and managed to swim across the bay. One of the men, so the story goes, was bitten by a shark as he was swimming. The shark was circling for its second attack when dolphins turned up and circled the man protecting him until he reached land.

Amazing day

We went on a tourist island hop today. Sam picked us up outside the hotel (Sam has been working in the Father’s refuge for a year-from Dorset). Sophia (from Dorset for 3months but only on her second week) and Jenny (a dear friend we met in Manila last year) were coming too. Sam took us to the bus top where the tourist bus picked us up. We met everyone else on the tour. Two sisters, and four young girls –Trev was the only man!. We went to get some snorkelling equipment from a hire shop on the way.

I was very nervous about the ides of snorkelling. For several reasons:

  1. While my skin as bad as a child going into the sea was agony. The salt on my sores was excruciating. This has left me feeling nervous of the sea.
  2. During sixth form I suffered with nightmares of being overwhelmed by waves from the sea and drowning. Since then I have been afraid to put my head underwater.
  3. Last time I tried to swim in the sea I started to panic about large fishes coming out of the depths. It was totally irrational.
  4. I hate people seeing me in my swimming costume

These fears were very strong and unusual for someone who is not frightened by other natural things e.g. snakes, spiders, dark, thunder, flying things.

Anyway, now I am rambling. We took the boat out to the first manmade floating island. It is over part of a coral reef and you can swim over a section of it. I got changed and got the snorkelling gear ready (we didn’t do the big flippers). The island was floating so there was no shallow area to gather courage on. I went down the steps as was determined just to do it. If I hesitated I might never try but instead talk myself out of it. Well I was so proud of myself – I managed to overcome the initial panic of breathing through a tube and started off slowly. I gained in confidence and then managed nearly the whole length of the area (I ran out of time). I love nature programmes – especially ones on the ocean – and it was like being in my own Attenborough documentary. The colours of the fish, shape of the coral and the flashing backs of the shoals of fish took my breath away. It was such thrilling experience.

Well I was hooked. We stopped off at the next island. I was straight into the water. People were feeding the fish. There was much less coral here but bigger fish in large quantities.

The third island I went straight into the sea also. It was so warm and clear. This was a sandy island but I found a strip of rock with fish, hermit crabs, shoals of tiny fish that surrounded me and a weird spiky fish with a horn on its back. There were some pretty sea anemones here too. We had a BBQ lunch Filipino style – including whole crabs. It was fantastic.

I was so busy swimming I have burnt my back –but it was worth it.

To finish such a dramatic day there was a massive thunderstorm when we arrived back. The rain poured out of the sky and the thunder was really loud and just above us. After several power cuts we moved rooms again (now on our 4th room due to shower/water pressure issues). Feel like nomads never settling. Each room we have been moved to in the last 2 days has been better and better and the best was saved till last (Filipino best is still basic).

Today has been a day of freedom from fears, a feast /banqueting table set for me and the increasing blessing of God. My Father is so good.

Fantastic Philippines Youth Gig

New Day relaxing after their exciting gig

New Day relaxing after their exciting gig

Last night was amazing. Boy is the voted councillor (the position is not political it is a person voted in who they go to if they have issues) for the village (of 3 thousand) on the edge of Manila. He is also the newest leader in the church team.

New Day Dancing

New Day Dancing

He has been working in his village with the youth. The New Day (the churches youth group) put on a concert for them. The GIG (Get involved with God) was due to start at 5 but actually began at 7.30pm. All the children arrived on tricycles booked by Boy and it took some time for the 10 tricycles to turn up with approx. 40 kids. They watched New Day’s dancing presentations, drama, testimonies and a gospel presentation.

There were some chatting but by the end they were all sat listening. Boy asked for a response to God for his love and they nearly all went forward apart from 2. We are not sure how many gave their lives to God but as they all prayed some had such sincere hearts you could see it on their faces.

Youths responding to God's love at the GIG

Youths responding to God’s love at the GIG

They finished the party with an amazing dance from the village kids – which went down a storm. Then a swim in the pool and food. Just to say we didn’t go in the pool but we did have some more delicious food. 🙂

Eden was saying that he needs wisdom with what to do next. Do they set up a church plant with only youth? How do they accommodate all these hungry hearts? What we can do is celebrate what God is doing here and pray for them.