Friday, April 10, 2015

Connecting Life with Faith: A New Creation

Spring in Fukuoka, Japan
It is spring and this is a time of new life.  The world all around us is teeming with flowers and buds soon to be fruit and blessing.  This is a natural cycle that we experience with every year and it serves as a reminder of newness and the joy of new life.

I reflect on the passage in 2 Corinthians 5.  "Therefore if anyone be in Christ, the new creation has come..."  First of all the phrase therefore should cause us to look for a reason for this statement.  Paul is speaking about our thinking, our outlook on the world.  As we abide in Christ, basically staying connected with Him as a branch or vine does with a tree, the new creation, the new life, the new way of thinking from Christ will come into our life.  There will be a newness, a joy much like springtime when we abide in Christ and reconcile our minds to Him who bore ALL of our sin.

We must look forward to the work God wants to do in our life today and not at the failures of the past.  We mustn't be dragged down by the wintry trials we have faced or the sinful ways of the past, but should embrace the new life God has for us; a life that doesn't end here on earth but  extends into eternity.

With a new outlook we can begin the work of reconciliation. Without renewing our own mind in this way how can we hope to share the Gospel with the dying world?  If we are made new again by His power, we can testify and share His resurrection and His kingdom with the world.

So open your heart and mind to Him today. Let the Holy Spirit reconcile your thoughts to the Word of God, to the mind of Christ Jesus, and experience the overflow of life and joy of the GOSPEL.  He is RISEN and He LIVES even after Easter let us celebrate the NEW LIFE in Christ!

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Only in Japan: Company Parties under the Yozakura

Beautiful Night time Cherry Blossoms in Fukuoka Japan

HANAMI 花見  (literally translated Flower Watching as it is called in Japanese) can only be done in a short period in Japan when the cherry blossoms 桜 (SAKURA) are in bloom.  This typically lasts for about a week or so near the end of March or beginning of April. As winter comes to an end there is an air of festivity as people begin to anticipate the blooming of the SAKURA.

Many families, friends, and even companies take time to have lunch or picnic under the cherry blossoms.  Sometimes this is during the day and it is also done
 at night.  As you can see here in Fukuoka there is a lot of work done to light up the SAKURA around the old castle ruins downtown.

Night time sakura in downtown Fukuoka Japan, castle ruins

Most parties tend to go late into the evening as people drink and celebrate the coming of spring and often new changes in their lives. At this time many people start new jobs or in the case of students new schools.

Japanese people gathering under the sakura for a company party

The nightime viewing of SAKURA is called YO-ZAKURA (夜桜).  The first character is one for night.  This adds a special and unique flavor to the typical concept of a picnic.  Something that you can only really find in Japan where literally thousands of people around town roll out their tarps and mats and pour out their sake for the night.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Connecting Life with Faith: Love is Supernatural

Fukuoka Japan

The word "love" gets tossed around a lot in our everyday lives.  We hear it at the end of a phone call with our close ones.  We hear it on TV as two lovers embrace.  We hear it when people talk about their favorite food.  The word gets a lot of use!

And there lies perhaps a lack of reflection on the power of such a word. In the Bible Jesus speaks a lot on the topic of love: from loving our neighbors to loving God and the most shocking of statements "Love your enemy"! So how is that supposed to happen?

Well the more I have discovered about this biblical form of "love" I have found that it is not a natural instinct. While humans have innate desires to care for offspring and ourselves, etc. I could not argue that we naturally "love our enemies"

Love as seen in the Bible is best described as a decision and an action not necessarily a feeling although our feelings definitely play a part. So when Christ says to love your enemy he is not speaking about how you feel towards them, but primarily your actions towards them.

1 Corinthians 13 is a famous passage on the love.

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

So wait a minute, can this be applied to our actions to those we would consider enemies? Wow! This is amazing! How can we do this when we see the atrocities around the world?  The answer is a supernatural one, one that Jesus clearly tells us in John 15 "...Abide in My love".  We can't do it alone.  True love is supernatural and it comes from God.  Even the love we share with one another, with our spouses, our children, and ultimately our enemies.  I feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit even as I write these words.  Am I abiding in His love?

So do you have any enemies? Chances are we all do in some form or another.  So how do we love them? First abide in Christ, ask Him, and fulfill what he has said and find great reward.

Matthew 5:46
"For if you love those who only love you what reward do you have?"
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