Sunday, September 30, 2007

New seasons


It has quickly turned to Autumn. The sky`s color fades and the air cools down. There is a scent of leaf and dust. The body has a slight ache and the immune system is once again put to the test. It is a new season and summer seems as though it were a dream. The restless nights of hot, sticky weather are over. Yet, the slight numbness in my toes in the morning doesn`t feel so good either.

Seasons and cycles are natural for us just as they are in our world. We must not be surprised when we experience a change in our life after a period of sustained blessing or hardship. It is hard to transition at times, but there is also an excitement to see what a new season will bring.

We have started a weekly Bible study. This is a big step for us and it marks a new season for our lives in Japan. We do not know how long it will be before we go back to the U.S., but God comforts me by saying, "this is where you are supposed to be." No doubt at this time, we are supposed to be here in Japan.

Other things such as Anna`s schooling, paying off debt, buying a home, further ministry are on my mind. Some of these I am still not sure will even happen, but I am praying about them. At any case, I must recognize their order and the season they will come in.

The seasons we experience in life grant a testimony to God`s kindness and grace towards us. He will satisfy us as long as we desire Him. The minute we cease to hunger and thirst for Him, we will experience frustration and we will become very unhappy with the season we are currently in. We will long for a change, all the while forgetting what fruit each season produces. God is the keeper of the seasons and He has set them according to His divine purpose. Let it be a testament to His glory and let the fruit of our labors in all that we do be a blessing to Him.

Daniel 2:12
He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.

Acts 14:7
"Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy."

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Bounds of Freedom

We are free men and women. We do not live in an era where we are enslaved by cruel taskmasters. The modern world has seen the end of slavery and the beginnings of an era of freedom. However, the cliche is true, "freedom has a price." Freedom from oppression has usually been brought about through war, gross violence, protests, etc. Freedom for a soul, however, is a different story.

Freedom for each person does not exempt them from the consequences of their actions or even the actions of others. Freedom is ectasy for one and somewhat fearful for another. Many people react different to being granted freedom, but the universal cry of humankind is that freedom is "good." If one looks into the annals of history, it is obvious to see one of the strongest desires of the human spirit is to live in freedom.
On a more spiritual side
To explore the bounds of our freedom is to invite the true test of our soul. We will see the depth of our treacherous hearts and the still know the amazing grace of Christ. Freedom is not to be taken for granted, but it does invite to experimentation of all kinds. Ohh What a scary and true thought! If our hands were free what other evils could we grab hold of...let it not be so! We need freedom, yes, but we also need goodness. We need the Holy Hand of God to direct us to a good path. What does the LORD pray, "and lead us not into temptation." Our tendency is to once again follow our own leading into temptations.

God be good to us today. Let us know the bounds of freedom. Let us know where to stop and where we should explore. Let us never turn away your grace in times of failure. Let us be fully confident in your deliverance and let us receive the joy of our freedom in you! Amen.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Back in Japan

Just for those who did not already know. We are now back in Japan. We took a much needed two week vacation in August to the U.S. It was a refreshing time as well as a time to get new direction for the next year or so.

Life back in Japan always brings challenges to the table. We have had little time since returning to sit down and slowly unpack our bags properly. We are still recovering from the exhausting ordeal of traveling overseas with two little ones. I have been back at work for around two weeks and the new semester has started. Bills, payments, and other financial issues are popping up from everywhere, breeding frustration and a sense of helplessness.

We want to be in a position to move back to the U.S. by the end of next year, but it seems impossible. Not to mention that Anna should start her education soon as well, meaning more money...delaying our return.

I think how we have been financially pinned in by paying penalties, tributes, and other amounts of money for extended family situations. Also my company took away over $1000 just because I needed to take days off for Yumi`s fathers`s funeral. We have no support beyond a few friends, who can only offer sympathy.

I ask God, "How can this be good?" "Is this the life of promise...or a case of redemptive suffering?" "Am I a fool for coming to Japan with nothing but the hope and promise of God?"

I am covered in despair, for what can I do?....I can barely provide for my family. I give thanks to God for getting us this far, but it seems that we are looking at more storm clouds ahead. I praise God for our health and our time together as a family. Certainly money is not our God and food can do nothing for the famished soul.

God make us strong and make our roots go deep and draw life from you, abiding in your goodness and mercy towards us, being wrapped in the warmth of your love for us. Invigorate our hearts and hands, let us do good to others and be servants of the Most High.

Here is a quote that speaks in a time like this

"Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you." Isaiah 30:18

God often delays in answering prayer.
If you have been knocking at the gate of mercy and have received no answer, do you want me to tell you why the mighty Maker hasn't opened the door and let you in? Our Father has reasons peculiar to Himself for keeping us waiting in this manner. Sometimes it is to show His power and His sovereignty. More frequently the delay is for our profit. You are perhaps kept waiting in order that your desires may be more fervent. God knows that delay will quicken and increase desire, and that if He keeps you waiting you will see your necessity more clearly and will seek more earnestly, and that you will prize the mercy all the more for its long delay.
There may also be something wrong with you which needs to be removed before the joy of the Lord is given. You may be relying on yourself a little too much instead of trusting simply and entirely on the Lord Jesus. Or God makes you delay awhile so that He might more fully display the riches of His grace to you at last. Your prayers are all filed in heaven and, if not immediately answered, they are certainly not forgotten. However, in a little while they will be fulfilled to your delight and satisfaction.
Don't let despair make you silent, but continue your humble request in good faith. Charles Spurgeon
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