Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Unanswered Prayer

I just finished an amazing book on unanswered prayer. It is called "God on Mute: Engaging the Silence of Unanswered Prayer" by Pete Greig. I highly recommend this book.

If you pray, you have dealt with this issue before. Some of us, when facing unanswered prayer just give up, stop praying. Some of us, keep praying but quit believing it is doing any good. Some of us keep believing God is there, just quit believing He has any interest in our lives. Some of us actually engage the silence of the unanswered prayer. This book talks about all of these responses and challenges us to respond in the final way, engaging the silence.

I'd like to share the poem which starts the book.

Engaging the Silence
there is
and where there is prayer
there may be
but where miracles may not be
there are
and where there are questions
there may be
but silence may be
more than
may be presence
may not be nothing but
to explore
defy accuse
this is
and where there is prayer
there may yet be

If you have time, check out the book and read it with an open heart.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Officially Official

Sunday, March 22, Komyo Christian Church officially became a church plant of the Japan Baptist Conference. Pastors and friends from around the JBC came to celebrate with us for our opening ceremony.

We got started a little late waiting for a few people to arrive. When the service did get started, it started with a bang. Literally! Thunder rumbled just as we began! It was kind of cool-thankfully we didn't lose power.

Paul started us out with an opening prayer and song.
Then Pastor Yuzawa, from Higashi Muko Church where I used to work, shared the message. He is the head of the evangelism committee of the JBC, so is like our supervisor, too.

Doug Woyke shared a few words, also.

When I was a short term missionary I taught English at the Matsusaka church where Pastor Higashi was ministering. Now he is working at the other JBC church plant in Chita. He shared a few words of encouragement.

Kensaku Higashi was in high school in Matsusaka when I was a short termer and not all that interested in anything to do with church. Next month he is starting seminary. God works in mighty ways! He played the for us during the offering.

After a final prayer by Pastor Tanabe from Nagoya, it was time for snacks!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

*SCA Party 2009

This year 20 choirs led by our director and 9 guest choirs gathered for the annual SCA party. (SCA= Shin's Community Acts, Shinichiro is the name of our choir director.) There were some fun additions this year. One guest choir had several middle school members who did a great street dance to one song. There was also a Gospel hula group that performed with one choir. Both were very well done. The evening ended with Yamamoto sensei and his wife singing a song about God's great love-joined by their daughter.

The choir with the middle school dancers. The choir even had cool robes!

Gospel hula performing to a Korean song which has been translated into Japanese and become incredibly popular 『君は愛されるために生まれた』"You were born to be Loved"

The Yamamoto family singing for us-and making us all cry! (Number 2 is due in May!)

Several of us finished the evening together. This picture is at a bad angle because just before taking it I banged my leg into the shelf under the table and so was leaning on the table. Those of you with long legs who have been to Japan can feel my pain, I'm sure!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

*Birds and Tulip Trees

I have a super busy day going on but just wanted to take a moment to write about my walk to the post office. Today is a beautiful, sunny day. That made my walk to the post office even nicer! It is also quite windy. As I walked across the footbridge over empty lots the effects of the wind could be strongly felt. I heard a bird singing away and looked up to see it just flitting about in the wind. It was singing its heart out and enjoying the day. It was truly fulfilling this verse:
"Shout with joy to God, all the earth! Sing the glory of His name; make His praise glorious!" Psalm 66:1-2

Before crossing the bridge there is a lovely tree. Lara and I used to call them tulip trees. Being from the great plains/tundra of mid-America we had not seen them before. Today I had my phone with me and decided to take a picture of it. It is a picture of hope to me; spring is coming! The days are warming up, getting longer, and becoming filled with sunshine.

Take time to notice creation and sing the glory of His name today! (Even if you are still under blankets of snow:)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


The temperature dropped yesterday and rain threatened, but I got up and went for a run anyway since the rest of the week is also supposed to be rainy. Just as I was finishing my run a few snowflakes began falling. As I watched the snow and then the rain (thankfully after I got inside!) I was reminded of the verses that have been hanging on my bathroom mirror for the past 2 years.

Isaiah 55:10-11
As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is My word that goes out from my mouth; It will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

I feel like the 'will not' should be italicized and bold, as well as the 'will accomplish.' In Japanese there is a word there that means 'without fail' which is used in this verse: 必ず. When I feel like God's love is bouncing off of people rather than sinking into their hearts I am reminded that God's word will accomplish His desire (not mine!), will achieve the purpose for which He sent it. 必ず!

The verses just before these two verses remind me that my ways are not what matter, not that they are right or wrong, but that God's ways are so much better than mine. When I think that my way is the best way, there is absolutely no way this situation could turn out any better than by my way, God has to remind me that His ways are higher than mine, and His word will achieve the purpose for which it was sent-by Him. 必ず!

I often have very good ideas, sometimes others even agree with my good ideas. However, sometimes my good ideas don't work or don't come to fruition and then God reminds me that His purpose is higher, His way is better and, 必ず, His purpose will be achieved.

Thankfully He works in spite of my pushing ahead at times or my bad attitude about doing things His way. Then when I see how amazingly He orchestrated things, verse 12 of chapter 55:
You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.
I can praise God along with all of creation for the way He works.

Monday, March 2, 2009

What'd you do today?

Today I had an adventure. I went to the local tax office to file my Japanese taxes. The town I live in shares an office with the town next door. Of course, the office is not in my town. Because the majority of people file their taxes in person, the tax office moves to a hall near a train station for the month before taxes are due. So, after driving around trying to get going the right way on the one ways, I found the parking lot I used last year and found the temporary office.

As a resident alien(I love to say that!:) there is a form I have to fill out telling how long I have lived in Japan, a year to year list of the number of days I have lived in Japan for the past 10 years. Last year when I arrived at the temporary office and asked for the form they called the office and someone brought them over to me. This year I got to have a new adventure, I got to go find the real tax office to get the form.

I spent a lot more time driving around trying to find the offices and parking lots than I actually did in the office filing my return! Then I spent some time in an electronics store, practicing piano and eating dinner.

My evening is finishing with a lovely gift from a wonderful youth group in Michigan... peanut butter cookies and Reese's! Thank you!