Being Mindful of God's Grace

Sometimes I almost sit down and begin writing this blog, but then I think, "Wait. In a few days this event will happen and after this event, you will have more to write about. If you don't wait, what are you going to write about? Write when you have something really interesting to say."

Sometimes this is good advice, but sometimes it is not so good, because when I finally sit down to write, I feel as though there is too much to say and that the blog entry will be so long that only a few will persevere to read the whole thing.

Big sigh.

So, here is what has been going on since my last blog entry, as best as I can remember it...

I returned last night from China in time to catch the last bus north to Uijeongbu. If I had missed the bus, it would have meant spending the night in the airport, which is what I did the night before my flight to China last week. I slept cross three chairs in the third floor departure area along with some Koreans and Chinese travelers who had early morning flights. I didn't sleep much and I didn't sleep well, so when I arrived in Beijing, I was a bit of a zombie.

The people who met me at the airport brought me to their home where I was able to rest, and they prepared a special birthday meal for me of delicious long noodles (for long life) and a cake made by the precious hands of the world renowned Finnish baker, Kikko.
After a rest, I went to stay at the home of friends in another part of Beijing. We ate dinner and I spoke when we had a time of praise and worship before going to sleep.

The next day, we headed out into the countryside on a bus to our retreat center. I was blessed to be assigned a room with my young Chinese friend Frank who is a senior in high school this year.
Frank and Kikko
We were staying along with some other Chinese brothers and sisters in a separate building up the hill from where the meeting room was which was the place most of the conference guests were staying.
Except for the hiking up and down the hill, I preferred our lodgings to the one where my Kunming buddy Luke and I stayed last year. Sadly, Luke could not come. Happily, Zinan came all the way from Budapest along with our main speaker, Pastor Graham King.

After many weeks, I was also able to see Dawn Doorenbos and catch up on some of her travels through Asia.
For the next several days, all 200 plus of us met mornings and evenings and listened to some heavenly messages on the grace of God. 

Our conference theme verse was Hebrews 13:9:
Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them.
I think that our hearts were established in grace, and at least one person came to salvation by grace through faith that weekend.

My part in the conference was to speak at an afternoon workshop for Sunday school teachers and parents on grace discipline. The next afternoon, I was asked to speak to pastors about preaching, because Pastor Graham was delayed for over two hours when he went out shopping. God likes to put me in a position where my only option is faith in His provision. I have been preaching for only two months, and here I was trying to say something to men who had been preaching longer than I have! That evening I was a bit more comfortable sharing an introduction and then singing Chris Tomlin's Our God with Pilvi Kraama and Andras Szabo.

The best part of attending conferences in China is meeting new friends and renewing old friendships.
This father of twins was being tied up by his sons and their two accomplices.
 In China, I am called by my last name which, to me, sounds like the Chinese are saying Danber or Denber. I was pleasantly surprised when Paul's little brother Johnny saw me and said my name.
Paul and Johnny

I experienced some terrific blessings while I was in China.

1) A note and some cookies from the Colby family in Budapest.
2) Giant pizza and homemade cheesecake.

Take up your cross and eat eat with me.
3) A trip to walk up on the Great Wall of China.

Zinan, Pastor Graham, and Eevie at the entrance

A picture for Dawn's family and friends!

Pastor Graham took many photos and videos

Pilvi sprints for the finish line (or is that the Finnish line?)
I am pleasantly surprised by how well God takes care of me. The fact that God takes care of me at all is a constant reminder of how great God's grace toward me is. There are days when I identify with the Apostle Paul as the chief of sinners and marvel that God loves me so faithfully and uses me despite all my defects. Here are some photos from the past few weeks that demonstrate God's goodness to me.
Being treated to some delicious noodles by Richard after he took me to the eye doctor

Eating a delicious Chuseok lunch with Sunja (above) and Lydia

A surprise birthday visit from Hae-ok, Jadzia, and Lydia complete with chocolate cake and candles

A trip to the zoo at Seoul Grand Park on my birthday

A burger with Eun-jae, a young man who I met at the convenience store who has been coming to church

Dinner with Charlie, one of the Wednesday English Bible Study doctors yesterday after a holiday hike.
And then there's just the beauty of Korea.
Sunset over Grace Mission Church

A fallen chestnut in our driveway that looks like a sea urchin

Peppers and something else drying beside the road near our house

Grains of freshly harvested rice drying in the sun beside the road across the street from our house

Playful sculptures in the park near the subway station.

So many pots of flowers in public places!

Pumpkins and other plants practically climbing out of their gardens into the road

Lovely wildflowers that I pass on my way to the bus stop
Sometimes I feel very far away from America, perhaps because I am. And then the grace of God stills my heart and reminds me that for now, this is my home, and I am content. There is grace for every time and place in a believer's life if he or she will receive it and allow his or heart to be established in God's grace. If God calls you to be a missionary, there is grace for every step along the way, so don't be afraid to go.


  1. I persevered! :)

    Oh and this .. "Sometimes I feel very far away from America, perhaps because I am. And then the grace of God stills my heart..." - yes!

    Grace, grace, God's grace.


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