Tuesday, March 31, 2015


It is Spy Wednesday in Jing'An, the day Judas betrayed Jesus to the Sanhedrin. It is hard to imagine betraying a friend like that. Judas surely knew that it meant Jesus' death.  He was at the end of his rope, though. It appeared that Jesus was just throwing it all away, that there would be no overthrow of the Roman oppressors. And Judas was right. But to have hope slip away like that... it was a lot to bear, I know. Still, betraying a friend. I don't know. I am glad it was Judas and not me.

Spring is officially here. I am not even going to wear a coat to work today. In fact, yesterday, it was hot. I actually sweated. So, goodbye winter! I enjoyed the winter here. I would have liked a little snow, but it was nice to wear sweaters and bundle up. I haven't done that in several years.

I have taken  a long walk every night this week, just through the back streets of Jing'An. The weather has been nice. Even though Jing'An is the smallest district in Shanghai it is still pretty big, and I haven't been to all of it yet. I have found a few places I want to revisit during the day, though:  Some Thai restaurants and a pawn shop. What do Chinese people pawn? They don't have guns. Of course, that may be my Texas showing. But I do think it's interesting, and telling, to see what gets pawned.

I started ukulele lessons a few weeks ago. My teacher is a young guy from The Philippians. He is near-native in his English. I don't practice as much as I'd like, but I am learning new things and some new songs.

Work is going well. My students are motivated and they really try. I am not very impressed with the so-called curriculum. I think there should be a little more grammar. I mean, you can't teach articles without teaching articles... and that's why our students don't know how to use them. But most people do learn some English. I have a reputation for being very strict and for failing people. I also have the highest student satisfaction marks of all the teachers so... I do not, btw, think that it means I am a good teacher. It just means that I am good with the customers. And, let's be clear, that's all education is anymore. Even the "good" schools have to make the money. We have a staff member at our facility who "graduated" from Fordham, which used to be a pretty respectable institution, but she is an idiot, even the Chinese think so. But even Fordham can't resist that out-of-state tuition, all cash money.

The lights are bright in Jing'An, and I am still enjoying living here. It's far from work and I have to commute for about three hours each day which gets to be a drag. But I use the time to check in on my messages and to read.

I am reading a short biography of Thomas Cranmer. He certainly lived in interesting times.

That's pretty much the news.
Philippians 4:9
Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

I have often thought that the first two words of this verse were the most important in the New Testament. At some point I want to feel like I am making progress, that I've gotten somewhere on the path. Yet... I don't know... it usually seems like I am going in circles. "Oh, we are here again," could be my theme. But the writer of Philippians told the people there in Phillppi to keep on. There's nothing in there about finding a new spiritual practice, or adding a little yoga or anything like that. Just keep on. It's not worded like that in all the translations and I suspect that a better translation is "Be like me..." But I like the encouragement in this translation. Just keep on. Don't be discouraged. Keep on. 

Also, I think it's fun that Spy Wednesday and April Fools Day are on the same day. I actually love Judas, but on this day he was a trickster... like we all are sometimes.

That's the other thing in the reading this morning... The heart is deceitful. Who can know it? Oh, God knows. That can be both a comfort and a cause for some discomfort. I know which it is for me. I do try to be good, I want to be good. But, only one is good. And when I look at my crafty heart it's pretty clear that it's not me.

I am not too worried, though. I've put all my Easter Eggs in one basket:  Love. If I have been wrong about the nature of God to love and forgive then I'm doomed. But, if I am right then even I have no worries.

All****** time is almost here.

Monday, March 30, 2015

John 12:26
Whoever serves me must follow me,

And we all know where Jesus is going.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Psalm 119:76
"Let your steadfast love become my comfort..."

I must have looked to a thousand other things for comfort, but what about trying this one? 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.--  Matthew 3:10

I wonder if I bear good fruit. What does good fruit even look like? I wonder if it is ever sad. Even if I get thrown into the fire, will that be enough the keep me from God's Love? No, I don't think so.