Thursday, September 2, 2010

How Do You Read the Bible?

How do you read the Bible?  Do you read it as though it's just a literary work, a book of long-ago myths?  Do you read it as a manual?  Is it a how-to book so that you can attain a life of purpose and personal fullfillment?  Do you read it because someone told you that you have to, or God will not come to your aid?  Do you read it as a check list?  Is it the way that you tally all the good things you have done, and make public what a good person you are?  Are you determined to be in the Book of Life because you've read the Bible cover to cover, inside out and have memorized a million verses?  Or do you just want to know Jesus and His love for you, and not only you, but the whole world?  Here's "What the Bible is Bascially About!"

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Five Minutes a Day with Luther

August 25, 2010
by Pastor Robin Fish

2 Peter 1:5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge.

* * *

Here St. Peter takes up the admonition, that they should demonstrate their faith by good works. Since such great blessing is bestowed upon you through faith (he would say), that you really have all that God is, do this in addition: be diligent, that is to say, not sluggish; in your faith supply moral excellence; that is, let your faith break out before the world, so as to be zealous, busy, powerful, and active, and to do many works; do not let it remain idle and unfruitful. You have a good inheritance and a good field, but see to it that you do not let thistles and weeds grow upon it. Discrimination or knowledge is, in the first place, something which one should manifest in outward conduct, and the morality of faith, in accordance with reason. For we should bridle and check the body, to the end that we may be sober, vigorous, and fitted for good works. We should not torture and mortify ourselves as some famous saints have done. For though God is likewise opposed to the sins that remain in the flesh, yet does He not require that for this reason you should destroy the body. Its viciousness and caprice you should guard against. Still, you are not to ruin or injure the body, but give it its food and refreshment that it may remain sound and in living vigor. In the second place, discrimination, here, means that one should lead life deliberately, and act with discretion in regard to outward things, such as food and things of that sort; that one should not act in these things without thinking, and that he should give his neighbor no provocation.

Holy Father! Thou hast taught me
I should live to Thee alone;
Year by year Thy hand hath brought me
On through dangers oft unknown,
When I wandered, Thou hast found me;
When I doubted, sent me light;
Still Thine arm has been around me,
All my paths were in Thy sight.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Birthday Week

On August 7th, one of my nieces (also my Goddaughter) celebrated her 18th birthday.  When did she grow up?  On the 11th, my husband had his big day.  For once all of us were home to eat the evening meal together.  Cake at 9:00 p.m. was a bit late, but he blew out all 8 of his candles.  (I couldn't afford to buy 53 candles.  Plus the cake was not even big enough for more than 10.  I don't know why Ai put only 8 on the cake, but that's what it was.)  On the 15th, another niece will be having her 14th birthday.  She spent the early part of her summer vacation on the border of life or death when she had to have emergency brain surgery.  She's back home now and recuperating rather well.  A wonderful miracle.

But, the birthday I really want to mention belongs to Rifqa Bary.  She has been through a very difficult year, and now she has been awarded her freedom.  I think of her often, and shall continue to hope and pray that she will be well.  God bless her and all the people that helped her arrive safely to see 18.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Bumping into Other Sinners

An awesome quote from Pastor Weedon's blog:
When the logs from our eyes have been removed through Calvary, we see.  We see Jesus on the cross supplied by us, for us.  We see ourselves as forgiven sinners.  Then, when we bump into another sinner, we are able to help, for love comes sideways.  We know the things that contradict Christ and the pain and ruin they work.  We want each person we meet to be freed of them, and we are there to help him or her. --Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, p. 170.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Jesus' Golden Rule

Yesterday, Pastor Zeniya, gave us all a punch.  Most people in Japan grow up taking care (they're supposed to anyway) not to bother others.  Part of it may be due to the crowded living conditions.  Some of it is an attempt to protect another person's pride or privacy by not intruding where you may not be welcome.

But Zeniya-sensei asked us, "Did Jesus tell us to not do to others what we do not want them to do to us?"  That's the way the Golden Rule is put here in Japan.  Don't!  Don't bother someone else, then they won't bother you.  On the Last Day, is God going to ask us if we held back and "stayed out of it" when dealing with other people.  Or is He going to ask us if we reached out to help those in trouble and need.  Did we use our possessions, skills and talents to make our neighbors' lives better, or did we think it better to not get involved.

Don't confuse what the culture around us says and think that that's the way Jesus said it. 

"In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets."  Matthew 7:12
Pastor spoke a bit about relationships, too, but I was thinking about how some Christians put so much emphasis on having a realtionship with Jesus.  Yes, it's true, we do have a relationship with Him.  I think all people do, actually, even if they don't realize it.  They are either in a good relationship or a bad one.  But that aside, the aspect that Pastor was trying to explain is that second most important commandment.

  One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, "What commandment is the foremost of all?"
   Jesus answered, "The foremost is, 'Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.'
   "The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."  Mark 12: 28-31
   Now that we are baptized believers, we are free to reach out to those around us in need.  When we see someone in trouble, we can be "little Christs" to our friends, family, colleagues, neighbors, and complete strangers.  Because Christ died on the cross to set us free from sin, we are free from worrying that we are "bothering" others.  Sounds so easy, doesn't it?


  Which is easier?  Not standing up to a bully on the playground, because if I don't bother him then he won't bother me?  Or standing up for someone being bullied, even if it means I'll be beat up by the bully, too?  Which one is really loving your neighbor as much as you love yourself?  If you were getting beat up by some big bad bully, you wouldn't mind someone coming to your rescue, would you?  ;-)

   Jesus' golden rule gets you involved in other people's lives.  The golden rule of this culture doesn't.  I don't remember where I first heard this, but it fits perfectly here.  'God doesn't need your good works, but your neighbor does.'

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Music My Kids Listen to ------- a LOT!

Today is Children's Day in Japan, so here's in celebration of my kids. (Well, at least the three that are still under this roof.)

Ai's selection:

Makoto's favorite group:

Yuko's stuff:

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A Genisis to Revelation Overview in 24 Hours!

I can't wait! Be sure to check the archives (click the Issues widget on the right side of my page) if staying awake 24 hours straight is too much for you. Or if you have to work as I do.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

How Could I Forget?

It's March 17th!  I completely forgot it's St. Patrick's Day today.  Not that I actually "celebrate" it, but we always thought it was cool that we were descendants from Ireland (though we were happy to let anyone claim they were Irish, too, if they wanted).  We wore green to school and got to pinch anyone that forgot to wear green (without getting in trouble for pinching, too!)  My mom always made corned beef and cabbage for supper.  (Sorry, Mom.  I never liked it.  It was such a relief to have that menu only once a year.)

I also forgot to do my Lucky Seven grocery shopping today.  Great discounts on the 7th, 17th, and 27th of the month, and I blew it. 

Well, I did get to put away our dolls.  (Doll's Day, hinamatsuri, was March 3rd.)  Cleaned some kitchen cupboards.  Get some clutter out for garbage collection.  AND talk to one of my sisters in Michigan for nearly an hour!  It was a pretty good day.

Except I forgot to wear green.  And tomorrow I'll have to do some grocery shopping without today's discounts. 

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Made it Through Another Examination Hell!

Last year two of the kids had entrance exams, and this year one.  Ai's junior high school recommended her to her first choice high school (public).  She also passed both of the exams she took at two other schools (private) in town.  There is still one more exam (public) in March, which she will not need to take now that her decision is settled.

Congratulations Ai!  But remember, just because you don't HAVE to study for the March exams, doesn't mean you get to goof off, either.  (Well, too much anyway.)

Monday, January 25, 2010

1/2 + 1/2 = ?

Last night Erin Ai had a revelation! 

She had been working on her autobiography for school, and was asking us about the reason for naming her Erin.  (The reason for crossing out the name, is that I can't tell this story without revealing her real name!  Oh dear, I would never make a good spy, would I?)

By the 4th child, we were wondering how we could keep up our custom of having all of the children have one kanji in common.  But I also wanted a name that could fit both Japanese and English without being too foreign for relatives in both countries.  Ai knew that when we were expecting her we were beginning the preparations to build a house with a view from our lot of a woody hillside.  Then, too, my middle name is Lynn, and part of her actual name has a similar sound in it.  (To the Japanese ear, that is!)  But what she had to ask is which country is her name connected to, and why is that something I always tell her.

And when I told her, you could see from her expression what an impact it had on her.  An epiphany moment of sorts.  She was so surprised she even cried.  Imagine that.  What did she discover?

In Japan, a "Half" is a person who is not 100% Japanese.  Some people may think it's shortened from the word halfbreed, but I don't think that it is actually.  And it's not necessarily a put down, either, though there are people who don't like the term.  In fact, when I first encountered it with Megumi, I had heard from someone that they preferred saying "I'm not Half, I'm Double."  The idea being that bicultural children grow up with 2 cultures, languages, customs,  passports, etc, not 1/2 of them.  Then when Nozomi told me that one of her elementary classmated had called her a Half as though it was not a good thing, I assured her that her friend was also a Half.  Everybody is half of their mother and half of their father.  (I've always wondered how her friend liked my little explanation about that.)

Back to Ai's query.  Why do I always remind her that her name means Ireland?  Why do I tell people that all of the siblings names are Irish?  She's half Japanese and half American, right?  Right.  And the American part is a mixture of Irish, English and German, mostly Irish. 


She never realized until last night.  And she cried.  Her face was radiantly surprised, and after she wiped her tears, guess what she did?  She called her best friend, who.....

..... is also a Half.  And while on the phone, she could hear her friend asking her own mother if her Philippine half was only Philippine.  Her mother told her that there's some Spanish and German in the mix as well. 

1/2 + 1/2 = Double and a Lot More

*  Upon writing this, I re-read it, and I doubt anyone will understand it unless you know Japanese, English and the various ways of writing and pronouncing both languages.  Oh well, sorry about that if you don't get the marvel of this episode.

Better Late Than Never


Here's a shot of my four.  It was from nearly a year ago! 
Hey!  January is just about over, and I'm still trying to catch up with 2009!