Saturday, March 15, 2014

折り紙は祈り紙...

When I was in the US last year I folded a large number of origami cranes.  I gave most of them away to people to remind them to pray for me.  On some I had people sign their names and I brought them back to Japan with me.  I finally got around to hanging them up around my apartment.

As I folded the cranes I was praying for Japan, for the ministry in which I am involved here, for friends, and for the people who would receive them.  As I gave them to friends and family, I asked them to pray for me.  I even left some 'flying' around my home church.  I hope when people see them around the church or wherever they were placed around homes that people will remember to pray for me.



When I am sitting in my living/dining room, bedroom, tatami room, or office and I see the cranes hanging there, I pray for the people who signed their names and gave the cranes back to me.


What a blessing to be able to pray for each other.  Even when we are not in the same city, state, or country, we can still join in ministry together by praying for each other.  And, having a visual reminder is helpful for me!  In that way, these origami cranes become prayer reminders.  (The Japanese title of this post is a play on words which basically means that.)


Thank you to those of you who are praying for me and all of us here in Japan.  Please continue.  I cannot put into words how much your prayers mean to us!
In the background is the prayer quilt the ladies from West Center made for me!

Friday, March 7, 2014

An Introduction

Yesterday I attended the English Bible study at Komyo Christian Church for the first time since I returned to Japan.  While Yuri is on home assignment I will have the privilege of being the leader of the study.

We started our time with introductions, which were fun and entertaining.  Then we sang a hymn which is a favorite of one of the students.  It is an English hymn she learned from a missionary when she was in university.  I had never heard it before, but love the lyrics!  What peace we have in Him!

Constantly Abiding by Anne S Murphy

There's a peace in my heart that the world never gave,
a peace it cannot take away;
Though the trials of life may surround like a cloud,
I've a peace that has come there to stay!

Constantly abiding, Jesus is mine;
Constantly abiding, rapture divine;
He never leaves me lonely, whispers O so kind:
"I will never leave thee."  Jesus is mine.

All the world seemed to sing of a Savior and King,
when peace sweetly came to my heart;
Troubles all fled away and my night turned to day,
blessed Jesus, how glorious Thou art!

This treasure I have in a temple of clay,
while here on His footstool I roam;
But He's coming to take me, some glorious day,
over there to my heavenly home!



Sunday, February 23, 2014

Fight for Each Other

This morning's Designed for Devotion Bible reading was from Numbers 32 where two tribes ask to have land on the east side of the Jordan rather than crossing over the river.  Moses is worried they will cause others to want to stay there, too, and not want to take the land of inheritance God has prepared for them.  The tribes then tell Moses that they will lead the fight for their fellow Israelites as they take possession of the land.

In the devotional section, the author reminds us that it is our responsibility as believers to fight for each other in prayer.  We are in a spiritual battle here on earth and when we pray for each other, God's kingdom can be advanced.  What an awesome promise and responsibility!

When I get self-absorbed in my prayers, I get tired and lose my focus.  Praying for others along with myself helps me to stay focused on God and the battle at hand.  

When others pray for me, I feel strengthened for the fight and supported in battle.  I am so grateful for the many people who fight with me in this battle.  

Thank you for praying with me.  Thank you for allowing me to pray with you.  May we continue to work together for God's glory and strengthen each other through our prayers.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.  With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord's people. (Ephesians 6:18)


Thursday, February 20, 2014

One Step


Yesterday I pulled out a Bible study book I used when I lived in Texas.  The study made a great impact on me and so I have saved the workbook all these years.  I am preparing a new study with one of my Bible students and we have decided to do the same study.  I am excited to share it with her!

Because of time constraints, we won't be able to do the whole workbook cover to cover.  Therefore, I am sort of rewriting a less intense version for us to use for the next few months.

I pulled out my workbook to review and start thinking about the first lesson.  In the back of the book is the covenant we signed with our group as we started the study.  Twenty years ago, today, I signed that covenant!  As I read through the prayer I wrote when we started the study, I see God had been working in my heart to bring the possibility of going to Japan to the front of my mind.  It would still be two years before I left for Japan, but this study helped me find focus in my life and strengthen my faith in Him and His word.

I am looking forward to what God is going to do in my and my student's heart as we study together!

Oh, may my heart be as open as it was the first time I went through the study!

Thanks to being an elementary school teacher, I have school pictures from my adulthood!  This is from my first year of teaching, 23 years ago!


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

All Together


When I was leaving for home assignment, our staff at Komyo Christian Church was finishing up reading a book together and discussing it in our meetings.  Then, they were going to start reading another book which many churches and leaders in the NAB were reading.  I read bits and pieces of it throughout my time in the US, but did not finish it.  Yesterday I was re-reading and then reading more of the book.  It is called "Everyday Church: Gospel Communities on Mission."

As I traveled around the NAB during home assignment sharing about what is going on in Japan, in general, and at Komyo Christian Church, specifically, many people commented on how we are living out the premise of this book.  First, I was impressed by the number of people, not just church leaders, who had been reading and reflecting on this book.  Second, I was excited to hear that our hearts for the community were coming through in what we are doing in ministry.

The authors of the book are pastors.  The theme of the book is go be the church, not go to church.  Yes, they admit, gathering with believers is important, however, people who do not yet know Jesus will not just show up at church.

The buzz word 'missional' comes up many times in this book.  The authors remind us that missional is not some new program, something we tack onto what we are already doing.  It is who we are.  We, Christ-followers, are on mission with God, to be the light in the world, to live out the gospel in our neighborhoods, schools, workplaces, grocery stores, and every where we spend our time.

There is no five step process, no how to for becoming missional.  It is who we are called to be.  They suggest three core elements to every day mission: love God, love people, love life.  Simple, right?!

Two sentences I loved from this section:
You will never attract people to Jesus if you are not excited about Jesus.
Our job is to have fun to the glory of God!

Amen!

So many unformed thoughts are rolling around my head about this topic.  Probably, if you heard me speak during the past year, you have heard some of them!  This is who we are called to be, people who love Jesus and live in the world-having fun to the glory of God!

Go have some fun!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

It Can Be Done

Not alone, even in this country!
I started reading a new devotional this year on the recommendation of a friend.  It is called "Designed for Devotion."  Although not every page of the Bible is read, it does go through the whole Bible, Genesis to Revelation.  I am looking forward to it and enjoying it already.

Yesterday I was reading Genesis 6 about Noah.  Like many people I know, the story of Noah is very familiar.  However, as I read yesterday, I was struck again by how Noah was described.  In verse 9 of chapter 6 it says:
"This is the account of Noah and his family.  Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God." (NLT)

The only person!  Not just in his town or his state or his country, but on the earth at the time!  Oh, my pity parties suddenly sound very hollow!

The next part is what cut to my heart yesterday, "he walked in close fellowship with God."  Okay, I have to admit, I did not like reading that one bit.  Times when I drift, when I am not so close to God, when I don't take my relationship with the Almighty seriously enough, in those times, I like to blame lack of accountability.  I like to think that if there was someone who was keeping me accountable, then I would not wander or drift.

And, then, wham!  I see that Noah was alone in his faith-on the earth!-and he walked in close fellowship with God.

Excuse #389 shot down!

Oh, Lord, thank you for reminding me that it can be done.  There is nothing wrong with accountability, in fact, it is a good thing.  However, I cannot blame other people for my own wandering heart.  It is possible to walk closely with You, even if there is no one else around who does.  Change my heart, oh God!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Wonder of Christmas

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1 ESV)

I was fascinated by what I read tonight in my devotional, so I am going to quote various parts of it here.

"The eastern church, centered in Constantinople, at first celebrated Christ's birth in a feast called Epiphany.  They chose January 6th, reasoning that since the first Adam was born on the sixth day of creation, the last Adam should be celebrated on the sixth day of the year."

I did not know that.  Kind of an interesting line of reasoning.

He then talks about how Rome chose December 25th.  Then he concludes with these remarks...

"Some Christians complain about the impure origin of the Christmas celebration.  A pope chose its date; it's decorated trees and wreaths and supernatural character named Santa Claus all have pagan beginnings."

And here is the important part...

"But none of this matters-our faith is what matters.  It makes us sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1).  So, by faith, let's sanctify our hearts with this truth:  when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman. (Galatians 4:4)"

The wonder of Christmas- faith!