Fulfilled in Jesus

Our pilgrimage with our Beloved in Japan -- Yoko & Ramone on the journey with Jesus!

Monday, January 17, 2005

Fulfilled in Jesus - the name


Some of my non-Christian friends here in Japan have been a little surprised at my email address and the name for this website. Fulfilled in Jesus. One friend asked me, "Are you really fulfilled in Jesus?" Naturally I said yes, but I felt shy that I couldn't explain the depths of it on the spot.

Not that I can now, either. Jesus is fulfilling, and my life is fulfilled in Him. But I want to explain the original meaning of the phrase I chose, because it's not about me.

You see, it's not about me or us. My feelings of fulfillment will go up and down. But all things are fulfilled in Jesus already. Whether or not I feel it, it's true in Him. It's like my wife Yoko. Whether or not I'm with her, she is still beautiful. When I'm away from her, yes, I still remember that she's beautiful, but my memory can fade and my memory simply isn't the reality of her beauty. When I'm with her, however, I stand awed by her. The more I get to know her, the more I get to discover her beauty.

It's just like that with Jesus, too. Yes, He's beautiful. Yes, all fulfillment is in Him. But there are times that I wander away or get distracted, and I forget how everything is answered in Him. Then my peace is gone and I feel empty. Eventually He helps me find my way home, to the place in His heart that I was made for.

Originally I chose the name in reference to the old Hebrew law (including the 10 Commandments), known to Christians as the Old Covenant. I grew up in the Seventh-day Adventist church before leaving a few years ago. The official denomination was built around a theology which doctrinally and historically centers on the 4th commandment (of the 10 in the Old Covenant). As such, the Law was held up as the important thing, and many honest defenders of SDA theology use Matthew 5:17 to say that even Jesus came "to fulfill the Law" instead of destory it.

However, having set their sights on the Law, they honestly couldn't see that---among many other things---the word Jesus used for "fulfill" means "to make complete, execute, finish, satisfy, to level up (a hollow)." He didn't destroy the Law; He simply satisfied it and set us free from it. Just like Jesus fulfilled prophecies written about Him, so the Law prophesied of our need of a Savior and was fulfilled when He came to become our righteousness.

Jesus simply is our righteousness. You may hear of Christians talk of "righteous living" or holy lives, but I want to let you know that there is only one holy life. My life continues to fall far short, but His life is perfect forever. He fulfilled all righteousness! That's why I chose the name: Regardless of us, He fulfilled all righteousness, and all is fulfilled in Him. He's the beginning and end, and in the end, everything will come to meet in Him.

How do I describe that He is everything, that He Himself will be the answer for your every need? I can barely tell myself adequately, and every day I newly find that He is everything to me. And when I'm wandering, He is still everything, whether I realize it or not. He is faithful.

Yes, I'm free. Yes, I'm fulfilled in Jesus. But that's not what the name means. I want you know that Jesus is fulfillment.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Seabiscuit


"Seabiscuit"
2003 - Tobey Maguire, Jeff Bridges, Chris Cooper, Elizabeth Banks
Written & Directed by Gary Ross, based on the book by Laura Hillenbrand
PG-13



Well, now I'm in a pickle. How can I review this film? I decided only to review films we really, really like... but you know, sometimes the more you like something, the harder it is to talk about it. While I was at university in California, friends would ask me to describe Yoko and I couldn't. I couldn't sum her up in a word or even a few words! Guess what? I still can't.

Not that this film is as good as she is. But she loved it, and so did I. Shoot, when we ran across the street to return the rental video before midnight, I said "C'mon, Pops!" and she said, "Haa!" Whenever she runs now she's going to say, "Haa!"

I may not make much of a movie critic after all. But would it be a bad thing if my review were little more than an ad to encourage you to see the film? I guess I don't think that's so terrible.

Seabiscuit. It's the story of an imperfect horse that became a legend because some imperfect people helped him and were helped by him. The horse didn't seem great. Neither did the jockey, Red (Tobey Maguire). The owner wasn't experienced. And the trainer seemed to be a crackpot. But they did it. Not just once, either. It reminds me of "Gattaca" ... that heart can go further than breeding and talent. And watch that heart go!

And watch our hearts be lifted by theirs. When we see someone's heart go, it makes ours go, too. Somehow that's what life is all about. Film critic Roger Ebert said that sad moments in films don't make him cry as much as goodness in films. When we see goodness in others, we're stirred.

And hey, when I see what my Jesus did for me, when I see His good heart, something good in me rises that I didn't even know was there. Like Seabiscuit & Red, even though I lose & fall more than once, I can get back up again. Jesus went lower than anyone else and is now higher than anyone else. I can go further because He did, because He won the race already.

Somehow the story of Seabiscuit also reminds me to be silent and let others' hearts speak instead of making my own definition of them by what I see, what I've heard about them or even what little I've observed. There is a liftetime behind people, and everyone has a heart. I remember that Jesus "had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him" (Isaiah 53:2). Likewise, we'd never think that the Cross would be a Tree of Life to those who embrace it. But Jesus did, and He embraced us, bringing life out of us.

Watch how when Mr. Howard, the future owner of Seabiscuit (Jeff Bridges), is taken to Mexico by his friends who hope to console him for his painful losses in life by throwing parties, taking him to clubs and sporting events. I love how one woman (Elizabeth Banks) sees him and knows he's in pain, and is the first person who really helps him, ironically, by not saying anything at all. In a similar way, Seabiscuit thrashed around in life and at anyone who tried to handle him. Then a trainer (Chris Cooper) took him under his wing, and paired the horse with a young jockey who himself was thrashing around in life. Because the trainer listened, understood, waited and loved, Red & Seabiscuit were healed. And as Red and Seabiscuit saw each other's pain, their thrashing went away and an understanding developed.

If we can learn a lesson, I hope it is that when we give someone time & love, we'll not only understand them better but we'll begin to help them find their hearts, and we'll find our hearts, too.

"C'mon, Pops!" "Haa!"

On a final note: I'd be curious to find out more about what happened after the film ends... how they retired, etc. If you know links where I can read about it, please let me know in the comments below. Thanks!

Monday, January 10, 2005

Happy New Year - Nengajou!


Happy New Year! Yes, I know it's late, it's January 10th. But we had to give the post office time. But now their time is up! No more excuses! Now we can tell you that prior to our relaxing, Chinese-food-filled evening at a friend's place, Yoko and I were busy scribbling addresses and stamps, making nengajous. And if the post office failed to deliver, then call the ninjas.

What's a nengajou? Simply put, the Japanese have a tradition of sending new year's greetings to family, friends and acquaintances. This has evolved into the "nengajou" ... not a "card" in the sense of a Christmas card or a Get Well card. Instead, it's really just a postcard. You can put just about anything you want on the front. There are perfectly acceptable cards you can buy at convenience stores, with traditional pictures, drawings, or writings on them. Others like to make their own, usually putting pictures of their kids on them. This year, for the first time, we opted to make our own. And having no kids, we decided to bore you all with pictures of us ourselves, hehehe.


Click for larger picture

All the pictures came from the camera on Yoko's keitai (cellphone). Two of them you may have seen before, if you looked at our Tottori adventure. Another you might recognize, which used to be in place of the cafe picture above my profile.

Anyhow, I thought I might have the fun of explaining the pictures. Of course, it might remove some of the mystery of guessing at them, and I did think of making a quiz about what they might possibly be, but I'm not as clever as this witty wacko. But hey, if you want to guess, you can skip to the comments and look later.

By the way, they're all in chronological order.

Top Row:

1 - The tail of our friend LuAnn's cat, Simba. Yoko and her sister Michi always marvel at how "cool" (kakkoii) Simba is. If she were a cat, Yoko says she would marry Simba.

2 - Yoko with a very friendly cat here in Abiko.

3 - A picture Yoko sent to show me her new haircut while I was in Arizona for my grandmother's funeral in late February.

4 - Well, don't you walk around while brushing your teeth? Or do you think that's disgusting and one needs to stay fixed at the bathroom sink? (Hey Kimi, try that for a poll!)

Middle Row:

1 - We rescued these two (Rakko & Jimbezo) from the Osaka City Aquarium the day before New Year's 2004. A few months into the year and they were like peas & carrots.

2 - I don't know why Yoko likes this picture of me with a custard-cream-filled donut from "Mister Donuts". Maybe because Jimbezo sneaked into the picture. He does that often.

3 - There's a great Hawaiian burger place at Namba Parks which has a great pineapple-burger (!) and some not-often-to-be-found-in-Japan onion rings. This one was bizarre.

4 - A good "family" photo when we wore our new "UNIQLO" yukatas for a summer fireworks festival in August.

Bottom Row:

1 - Gaijin frustrations. My feet were too big for the traditional "geta" sandals that Yoko's father lent me for the fireworks. Amazing, though, since his father made them out of one block of wood instead of attaching pieces to the bottom. I was honored, but had to wear the birkenstocks Roy and I got so long ago at Costco...

2 - Yoko and I at the smaller waterfall in Tottori at Dai-sen mountain. The bigger waterfall was beautiful but too far away for a good keitai picture.

3 - Yoko with "Chii-chan", a very friendly cat at Cookie Circus in Tottori. On the left are some sliding doors to the porch and flower garden. Chii-chan would sit on the porch and watch us through the windows while we ate. We would let the cats in, of course, after we finished. I think this picture was from the coffee/tea time we had after the evening bath, when we'd talk with the other guests, Otou-san & Okaa-san.

4 - It's fun when the lemon in the water is the same size as the rim of the glass! Yoko & Michi took me to a little "French cafe" two stops away on the subway for my birthday in November. Their steak was nice. (^_^)
.......

And that's the end! Hope you enjoyed!
あけましておめてとうでござる!
今年もよろしくおねがいします!

Thursday, January 06, 2005

An Introduction to U2

My friend Matt recently got an iPod and along with that iPod came the whole catalogue of U2 songs, I understand. Although a genius in his own right, Matt is new to the world of U2, whereas I, ...I am the master.

Well, not at all. But I like the group a lot and would call them my favorite rock group since I don't know when. So being jealous of Matt's new acquisition -- the plethora of U2 songs -- I thought I would post up this introduction to their music for him and for anyone else who has picked up an iPod engraved with their signatures.



Basic stuff... their names are:

Bono* (vocals, occasional guitar or harmonica)
The Edge** (guitar, keyboards, backing vocals)
Adam Clayton (bass guitar)
Larry Mullen, Jr. (drums)

*real name: Paul Hewson
**real name: Dave Evans

...but no one knows them by their real names. Hey, it's what happens when you're cool like that.

Quick History

They formed in the late 70s, began playing punkish cover tunes but were so bad that they started to write their own songs, hehe. Their first album was "Boy" in 1980, and they launched into rock history with 1987's "The Joshua Tree"... so much that the term "This year's 'Joshua Tree'" is used to describe amazing albums in any year. Bono, Edge & Larry are Christians, and were involved in a specific church up until the mid-80s before leaving. Much of Bono's lyrics are Psalmish -- reflecting his doubts but undergirded with his return to faith in God.

Though still Chrisitans, they aren't what you'd expect, drinking & smoking and swearing. But no one can doubt their heart, especially Bono, who has crusaded for debt relief of third-world nations and has lobbied countless governments and politicians to give attention to hunger and AIDS crises in Africa. He founded an organization, DATA, for these causes. A couple years back he toured Africa with Paul O'Neill, then the U.S. Treasury Secretary, who was appalled at the conditions he witnessed and would later be dismissed from the cabinet for trying to persuade the administration to aid Ghana with a clean water project. Despite this, Bono continues his non-partisian lobby for Africa, and finds friends, willing listeners & helpers on all sides of political fences.

Ok, back to the music. Here is a list of songs I'd suggest, sort of the best of each album, or the most representative, I think. Each album has a certain sound. The Edge loves messing with sounds. Bono says that Edge isn't a rockin' guitarist, but more meditative, like Zen guitarist or something.

Songs

"Where the Streets Have No Name" is the first song on "The Joshua Tree", and was the first song of theirs I ever heard. I think it makes the greatest introduction, as its soaring urgency takes you out to the freedom of the desert... (^_^)


From "The Joshua Tree":

Where the Streets Have No Name
I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
With Or Without You
Red Hill Mining Town
Running to Stand Still



From "Achtung Baby" - where they went into irony & electronica, and my favorite album (followed closely by Joshua Tree):

One
The Fly
Mysterious Ways
Ultra Violet (Light My Way)
So Cruel



From "The Unforgettable Fire":

Bad
A Sort of Homecoming
Pride (In the Name of Love)



From "Rattle & Hum" - a follow-up, half live, to Joshua Tree. I'd had this album on tape years ago, but never got it back from a high school friend, I think. But Yoko got it for me this Christmas! Thank you, Yoko! (^_^) :

Desire
Hawkmoon 269
Love Rescue Me
All I Want Is You


The next song is a kick-butt single from the "Batman Forever" soundtrack:



Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me



From "War" or "Under A Blood Red Sky" - the latter album is a live EP with some of the same songs on "War":

Sunday Bloody Sunday
New Year's Day
40



The next song is from "Passengers: Original Soundtracks 1", which was an album U2 complied of songs they did with producer Brian Eno for various small films. It also is found on the Best of 1990-2000 compilation. The song features Luciano Pavarotti!:

Miss Sarajevo



From "Zooropa" - the fastest album they ever recorded, right on the heels of "Achtung Baby". This album is even more electronic, but zaney & funkey in a video game kind of way:

Zooropa
Numb (the Edge sings this one -- well, not sings... raps?)
Stay (Faraway, So Close)



From "Best of 1980-1989" - this next song is something they originally recorded during the Joshua Tree sessions, but re-did for the release of the first "Best Of" album:

The Sweetest Thing



From Grammy-winning, "All That You Can't Leave Behind"

Grace
Beautiful Day
Kite
Walk On



From the newest album, "How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb":

Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own
Vertigo
City of Blinding Lights
A Man and a Woman
Yahweh

*****

Albums

I don't remember all the years they came out, but here are U2's albums as I know them:

Boy (1980) (best song, "I Will Follow")
October (generally considered weakest album, but song "October" is beautiful)
War
Under A Blood Red Sky (live EP)
The Unforgettable Fire
Wide Awake in America (EP - 2 studio, 2 live songs)
The Joshua Tree (1987)
Rattle & Hum (1988)
Achtung Baby (1991)
Zooropa
Passengers: Original Soundtracks 1 (with Brian Eno)
Pop
Best of 1980-1989
All That You Can't Leave Behind (2000)
Best of 1990-2000
How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb (2004)

*****

That's the end! Let me know if you have any questions, comments, or a favorite song! U2 has been a musical & spiritual blessing to me, and I pray for their faith and for their love to be infectious. (^_^) Oh, and here's their website: www.u2.com

Monday, January 03, 2005

Driving Miss Daisy


Note about reviews - see comments.

"Driving Miss Daisy"
1989 - Morgan Freeman, Jessica Tandy, Dan Aykroyd
Directed by Bruce Beresford, written by Alfred Uhry (based on his play)
Rated PG



What can you say about a movie like this? It's a short, beautiful story of two lives. You forget they're actors, and it's like you drop in on them and watch them for a good part of their lives. Sure, you don't see everything, but you don't need to.

You know that sometimes the things between chapters of a book don't need to be written down, just like all of your memories don't need to be written down. That doesn't make your memories less precious or less real. The time passed and the moments were special, and maybe that's the reason you don't write things down. You smile as you keep the memories to yourself. When you're ready to share, you will, and if you don't, that's okay.

That's what Hoke (Morgan Freeman) and Miss Daisy (the late Jessica Tandy) know -- without seeming to try to know it. Maybe it's what you learn with age. And age is what they've got plenty of. Hoke himself ought to be retired, but he needs a job and Boolie Werthan (Dan Aykroyd) needs a driver for his mother. Yes, she's grumpy, stubborn and proud, but Hoke has a good sense of patience, humor, and something else which I can't find a word to describe.

Perhaps I could call it experience, but different men learn different things from their experiences, and not all are like Hoke. What is it that he's learned? I can't say, but it's beautiful in a quiet, patient and humble way.

Of course, he isn't the only one who learns in the story. Hoke respects Daisy and becomes a friend to her through his patience and care, and she learns to trust again. It's not a complete change of character. She still complains and perhaps Hoke is the only one who she treats halfway well. But sometimes you don't need to change the whole person. One ray of light, of love, into someone's life may be enough. Maybe that's what Hoke knew.

Read Roger Ebert's insightful and more detailed review here.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

New Year's 2005


Happy new year to you! Here's the first post of 2005, and sadly it knocks our beloved Tottori post off of the front page. **sniff sniff**