Fulfilled in Jesus

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

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Twice and Happy!




Michi: It was fun! The bond between brothers & sisters...! It must be cool to have two brothers and sisters.

Yoko: The first time I thought Edmund was just a younger brother, but today I felt that he had great courage to do something he believes in. Sometimes it looks careless and dangerous, but his older brother helped him and Aslan helped him. So I thought Edmund was really cool this time. And I liked the Fox again. And of course Aslan was cool. I really felt when they were about to fight, that there will be a time for us to decide which to stand for firmly, and if we stand on who we really believe, there will be no fear.

Ramone: I don't know what to say! It was great. I can't say it wasn't a spiritual experience. There are lots of people who look for "this represents this", but I was talking with Jesus, and He let me have a good time there, and I'm happy to be with Him. I try not to read too much into it, but it stirs something inside.

I noted that Aslan picked the Stone Table as the place to meet ahead of time. Why did He do this? Because He knew what was going to happen. The Witch stood as the accuser (Satan means "Accuser" in Hebrew), and Aslan knew it was time to "overturn death". As the first to do that, He then breathed that life into all of the Narnians who had been killed in stone.

Aren't we all likewise frozen in stone, frozen by the accuser who knows we couldn't keep what was written on the Tablets? Didn't He come specifically to satisfy the Law and break its hold over us? And then having been resurrected, He has breathed His new life into us, Life, that has overcome death.

Jesus! Kudos to Your kid, Lewis. Kudos to You. In the books he says that Your breath -- when You breathe on us -- fills us and gives us freshness and courage. Kudos to those who made the movie, for I feel that courage enter me. My King has risen!

Saturday, April 29, 2006

"Work" in the Garden of His Rest

Last night as I slipped into the ofuro (a Japanese bathtub), I was thinking of His rest, His Sabbath-rest. I remembered a comment that Colleen Tinker wrote in Proclamation Magazine about how Adam and Eve didn't do anything to enter God's rest.

God created the heavens & earth in six days, and on the seventh day He rested, He ceased. Because He rested on creation, that seventh day became holy. Not that God "hallowed" (not that God "observed" a day or "reverenced" it), but it became holy because He was on it. Just like when Moses stood before the burning bush, God said the ground was holy. Not because it was "holy land", but because of the Holy One who stood upon it.

In growing up I was taught that I had to observe rules, to "keep" the Sabbath day holy because that's what Adam & Eve did (I was told). But looking back through Scripture, I realize that Adam & Eve didn't do anything. The resting was all God. It was what He did, not them. They freely entered by no effort of their own.

Reading Dale Ratzlaff's book, "Sabbath in Christ", I learned that all of the Biblical commands given to the old nation Israel about "keeping" Sabbath would have meant nothing to Adam & Eve. There was no work & toil to "rest" from. They didn't need to make fires to keep warm. They didn't need to even cook. And they already were communing with God every day. In fact, on the seventh day it seems God was having the Israelites act like they were still in Eden before sin entered.

Genesis says that Adam was put in the Garden to "work" it, but the curse had not yet come yet, so it was not "work" as we know it. It was not toil. Adam would not even sweat. There were no thorns to remove and the ground would not resist him. It would be nothing like "work" for us today! The "work" done in Eden was different. It was done while God was there. It was done in His holy presence. And it was not heavy, burdensome, or tiring. It did not separate Adam from God.

*****Now in Christ*****

Last night in the ofuro while lost in my thoughts about how to share the joy of real Sabbath-rest with those who still looked to a day, I was interrupted and suddenly heard Ephesians 2:8-10,

"It is by grace you have been saved, through faith---and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God---not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

We are saved because of what He did for us. Like Adam & Eve, we are born into what He has already done for us. He has already finished the work of salvation on the Cross. We might as well say,

"It is by grace you have entered His Sabbath-rest through faith---and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God."

We receive that same gift of rest that Adam & Eve received from God, the rest of being with Him and knowing no sin. Jesus has become our peace with God. He has brought us back to Eden and even beyond by sending His Spirit to live in us!

How do I "enter" His rest? By faith. By believing. "We who have believed enter that rest" is what Hebrews 4:3 says. We enter by believing in what He has done for us, by believing the Gospel word of Jesus, "It is finished!"

We are so used to living by works---living in such a way that we have to earn things. We have to earn our rest. But our rest has already been purchased for us by Jesus' blood. Our restoration with God the Father is finished and accomplished by His Son's work and death.

*****Working in His Garden*****

I looked up the Scripture when I got out of the ofuro and realized something else: Just as Adam & Eve could not fathom what in the heck "work" was before sin entered the picture, so we too cannot understand the "works" God has called us to unless we have entered His rest.

Unless we have rested in knowing "It is finished" by His work, then we will continue to be striving to earn that which we already have in Him. God does have works for us to do, but they are the works of Eden, per say. They are different than the works we have known. They are done from a position of victory, from a position of already being at rest.

In the same way Jesus, during His three-year ministry, was able to "work" and yet was also in complete "rest" with His Father the whole time. We are called in the same footsteps, to first be in rest with the Father through the Son's all-sufficient sacrifice for us, and then to joyfully do that which He gives us in that Garden of His rest.

As you and I consider whether God is calling us to do something or not, let's first rest in Him, be still and know "It is done", and then ask ourselves why we want to do the task. Often it's difficult for many of us to be comfortable in God's presence, to be comfortable in stillness. I often want to do something, anything. I'm having to learn how to be still all over again, how to rest in His presence and not get fidgety. But it is from this place of stillness in Him---in knowing He has finished the work and just being with Him---it is from this place that all of our works are supposed to flow.

*****Prayer*****

Lord, help me just be in that rest! As many have said, You made us to be human beings, not human doings. Help me understand the work You've given me. But greater than that, Lord, help me know the rest and joy of being with You in Your presence. Help me never leave that to go to "work". Help me and all my friends reading to know how great this life really is that You've given us in Your Son. Help us to fall down completely in knowing it is Your gift, and it is all You, start to finish. Thank You, God, thank You so much. I praise You.

To Jesus

Jesus, You've done so much for me; You've done everything. There's nothing left for me to do except rest in You and from there, do what You've already prepared. You're awesome.

Your rest is so big. You are so much bigger than I can know and see. How I need You today, Jesus! In all my stuff, in all my things! Inside me is You, and You are Eden. Yet so often I live as if what I see is the real world. Help me rest in You and live in Eden once more, Jesus.

Jesus, I love You so much. I want to share here thoughts about Your rest, about resting in You, about that word "Sabbath-rest" that really captures the beautiful essence of resting wholly in what You have done for us on the Cross. Help me do that, Lord. Or rather, help me enter and lay in Your rest, and write from there and nowhere else, Jesus.

Thank You again. Amen.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Japanese Bible History & Uncle John of Nanataki


I was reading a friend's blog and noticed she put up some links about the Japanese Bible Society, and the history of translating the Bible into Japanese.

I haven't posted here much, and I still haven't finished organizing or writing the Gracia Hosokawa post. But oh well... time, time! I just ordered a copy of "The Small Man of Nanataki" online; apparently it's out of print, so I got a used one. My wife Yoko really enjoyed the Japanese version which was recently put out, I think (it's entitled "Uncle John" in katakana). I understand the book is about a Christian Japanese soldier who worked at a prison camp for allied soldiers in Southeast Asia during WWII. I'm looking forward to reading it when it arrives, hopefully within the next month...

Blessings!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Visitors from another planet, part 2




Just look at them! Isn't it clear these aren't innocent earthlings?

Anyway, their names are Daryl & Yuko (Intergalactic Interpol says they may be going by the aliases "Dariru", "Datchan", and "Yuu-chan"). They visited us waaaaay back on January 2nd. Yes, it's been way too long and I'm four months late in getting this up. Oops.

The visited us from the land of a distant king named Hiro Shima. King Shima apparently has done strange things to them, because they enjoyed seeing the electronics district of Osaka (Nippombashi) so much that they instantly struck an "otaku"-attracting cat pose mating call (see above).

Obviously they were getting dangerous. Or rather, they were putting us in danger. Luckily we escaped before anyone responded to the "neko" call. We decided to take them down to the rough part of town, Shin-Sekai. However, Tsutenkaku Tower must've reminded them of their spaceship, because they got this evil gleam in their eyes...




So I quickly showed 'em which side we were from, and Yoko... smiled:



Thankfully they backed down quickly. So far down in fact that they feared sitting near us when we took them to eat kushi-katsu...



Feeling sorry for them, we let them sit next to us. They were very happy! (Don't let the unchanging expression on Daryl's face fool you, he's really stoked!) Although, it took quite awhile for them to realize the "kushi-katsu" was not a wand or something to rotate in your hand...



Yoko and I demonstrated for them, but I kept an eye on them, just in case...



And just like the "Kar-Yee" from part 1, they took pictures of our okonomiyaki...



Go figure. If another one does it next time, we'll have to put the smack down with the spatula...



All in all, though, it seems they had a good time, especially when we took them to our "mansion" and let them relax on our "sofa"...



And for that matter, so did we. We'd welcome them back anytime, even if it should put us in danger of being overrun by crazed otaku in Nippombashi or getting in trouble with the Intergalactic Okonomiyaki Police.

We took them to the station, and they promptly entered...




...the ladies' car. *shrug*

Well, maybe it's not so strange on their planet. But the pose they struck as they rolled off was definitely interesting to us...




Stay tuned for parts three....... and four!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Introduction


Jesus is alive and well, living in His people in Japan, and living in many who don't know it's Him yet.

Here I've collected a few stories of Jesus otaku (Jesus freaks) in Japan's history. If you read much Japanese history, you might get the impression that Christianity was wiped out here, but it isn't true. Or if you read church numbers, you'll hear that less than 1% of the nation is Christian. But what does it matter? Jesus is here!

In 2004 I learned that my father's family is Mexican. Somehow I didn't specifically know that growing up. My own family was divorced, my father's family had lots of fights, and somehow I never heard where we came from. Now that I've found out and I want to know more!

Coming to discover Japanese people who've met Jesus is very similar for me. These are people who have met the same Guy that you and I know, people who've stepped into the wardrobe. There are so many more that I haven't heard of, but I think their stories need to be told. Many Japanese Christians don't know their land is a land of faith and martyrs, and that they're not the first to take the bold step of giving their lives to Jesus. In a word, these people are my family, and they are yours, too.

Each one is a letter from Christ, as Paul said; God spoke to them, and through their lives with Him, God can speak to us. As I run across more stories, I'll post them up irregularly, and I'll begin to add my own prayers and wonderings to them. Why? Because I want to talk to God and hear what He's telling me in my life through discovering their lives and His hand in their lives.

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