Thursday, January 7, 2010

Life These Days

Well, I realize it has been a while since I've updated this blog. Not that many people are following, but if there were many people following, I would have failed many people.... hahaha! Anyway, I apologize.

So here is an update:

From my last blog post, so much has gone on. It's hard to begin. But, "Let's start at the beginning, a very good place to start!" When I returned to Okinawa in October, Pastor Tom talked to me about next semester. He gave me a few ideas of what I could do and I told him some visions the Lord had given me. My ideas are still heavy on my heart, but I believe they are for a future time. One of these visions is to "do ministry" (whatever that may entail, I do not know) in the great, very cold, prefecture of Hokkaido, a northern island of Japan (one of the four main islands). I am not at this moment quite sure why the Lord has placed Hokkaido on my heart, but He has and I can't do anything about it ;-) Another of my visions for the future is some form of ministry in New Zealand. I have no specific ideas about that, but (from what I've heard and from my long life of experience [hehe]) God rarely gives us the specifics until we need them. I do have a dream, a form of ministry; but if you want to know that you will have to get in touch with me. For now, I will continue with this blog post.

The options Pastor Tom gave to me were these:
1. I could go to Calvary Chapel Murrieta for the winter to work there and pay off my tuition for the next semester. I didn't much like that idea ;)
2. I could go to South Korea to lead worship. I REALLY didn't like that idea. I had never led worship, nor did I want to--ever!--and I hate spicy food.
3. I could go home and take a semester off. That didn't sound too bad. After all, I had been away from home far longer than I had expected and I was starting to miss it.
4. I could contact someone in Tokyo, Hokkaido, New Zealand, or wherever to attempt to find a place to minister for the winter.

Well, I prayed and fasted. Prayed some more, fasted more. Read the Word (a lot!) Prayed and fasted some more. Sought counsel from my parents and from others wiser than myself (they weren't to hard to find.) I won't get into the details, but the option that I chose was the least likely: I chose option #2. I'm not sure why God closed the doors for 1 & 4 and left 2 & 3 open. Why didn't He close 3? I was close to choosing 3, but my heart told me that was not the way to go. When I had my mind set on going home, I felt uneasy all the time, stressed, anxious, and several times I burst into tears in solitude. I knew something was wrong. I told my parents that I thought going home was not the Lord's will for right now and that I would go to Korea with their permission. My mom was quite reluctant at first. For several reasons: one, I had gotten her hopes up by telling her I was pretty sure I was gonna go home; two, it's Korea! Not exactly the safest place in the world atm. And there were others as well (finances included.) But, I reassured her that the Lord's will would be done one way or the other and (this might not have been the best choice of words, but...) if He wanted me to die, it would happen at home or in South Korea! My dad suggested we pray about it some more, both my mom and I agreed. Two days later, both of my parents were willing (although, I could sense a bit of reluctance, but that was comforting. I'd rather them be hesitant to let me go than to shove me out the door!) and said that wherever the Lord led me, they would be behind me.

Well, two weeks later I was on a plane to South Korea, shaking and scared out of my mind! I arrived in South Korea on December 9, 2009. Today is January 8, 2010. I have been here less than a month and my (aw, man... here come the tears...) life will never be the same. This place, the people in it, has touched my heart in a way I can't describe. I hate to think of what my winter would have been like had I not come here. It's been 30 days and I feel like I've been here my whole life (besides the language difference.) I never in my wildest dreams (and I have had some wild ones, ask my family) did I dream I would be in South Korea for my 18th birthday, Christmas, and New Year. I never expected to lead worship (EVER!) and hadn't expected to lead a Bible study either. But, God has a way of going beyond our expectations. In fact, He says that His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. It's so true. Now that I can see the screen again (my eyes are finally clearing up...) I will tell you what has been happening here, and maybe I'll give you a sneak peak into the future.

While I've been here, I have lead worship on Sunday mornings (six songs), afternoons (a few songs for children's church), and evenings (seven songs); Thursday evenings (four songs before the Bible study), and Saturday mornings (five songs before the Bible study.) So, a total of 21-25 songs a week. I prepare the setlist and powerpoint myself. I am trying to get the Korean's who have good English vocabularies and decent voices (I can't judge too much, because they let ME sing) or an instrumental skill to join me. However, the select few are quite reluctant to do so. Please pray that they step out in obedience to worship the Lord =)

Also, I took over a weekly Bible study that takes place on Saturday mornings. It is a men-only study and I think the number of opportunities explode when you get just men, so I will try to take advantage of the gender separation. Last Saturday was my first. I am going through the book of Ecclesiastes. Now, this is quite the odd choice, I know. First of all, I have never heard a teaching on Ecclesiastes. If I was going to choose a book that I didn't study in-depth at Bible college, I should have at least chosen one that I had heard taught on at least once, right? Well, I tried. Four different times. I tried to prepare a message for 1 Peter, Titus, Philemon, and 2 Timothy--none of them worked. When I got to Ecclesiastes in my Bible-reading plan, I felt a sort of tug on my heart. I literally smiled and said "Oh, God... You're so funny!" I knew as soon as I started reading it that He would have me "teach" on it. So, I covered chapter one last week. Well, I mostly covered verses 1 & 2 and kinda just read the rest, touching on a few select verses. This week, I plan to go through chapters 2-4. But, we will see how the Spirit leads on Saturday morning.

That's another thing quite strange. Saturday morning I lead worship first (for men and women). After worship, the women leave to the Pastor's wife's house to have their "Girl Power" Time (I don't know why I just called it that...) and the men remain at the church. I then "teach" (I put the quotation marks because I am unable to teach, but I move my mouth and somehow these words that make sense and agree with the rest of scripture come out; quite strange, for I know I surely do not have the wisdom or discernment or understanding to teach Scripture [least of all Ecclesiastes!]) the men. So, I lead worship and five minutes later I'm teaching a Bible study... it's somewhat odd.

Well, anyway, that's the summary of my scheduled ministries. Here are some things I do on the side:

I have been given the awesome opportunity to disciple young men (older than me, but still young) in the Word in several ways. I have (literally) had a mountaintop experience with two young men, traversed the city with the same and others, had coffee-shop Bible studies, studies at lunches and dinners, countless conversations on all things Scriptural; I've even been able to disciple while shopping for clothes! Go figure! (That was actually pretty fun, haha.)

I have dozens of new brothers and sisters and some moms (maybe some uncles, too). There are three individuals in particular whom I have come to love dearly, and it will hurt to leave. One, Lance (or Tong Mun), has become a younger brother. He's quite the guy. His English isn't incredible, but it's good enough to get points across. His older sister, Hye Young, has become my younger sister. Her English is excellent and I am trying to get her to sing for worship. She's pretty hesitant, though. (As I asked before, please be praying that she (and the others) will step out of their comfort zone into the realm of the unknown for Jesus' sake :)) And their mother has become my Oma (Korean mom). I love hanging out with them and I have been so blessed by their hospitality and welcoming spirits.

I have become close to two guys as well. Evan (Kungyu, 27) and his younger cousin WoonHee (20). I am closer to Evan, but close to both. I've always gotten close to those a bit older than me (Derek Cooper, Matt Offield, Matt Helmintoller, Julio Marin, Trevor Raichura, etc.)--weird.

Well, all of this to say, I am going to miss this place--far more than I expected. I will make my prayer, as Paul, that "by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to [Korea].For I long to see [everyone,] that I may impart to [them] some spiritual gift, so that [they] may be established--that is, that I may be encouraged together with [them] by the mutual faith both of [they] and [I]" (Romans 1:10-12).

Now, I will give you a very short sneak peak into the future:
I am going to Tokyo on January 25 to spend the week prior to the next CCBC semester with friends in Tokyo. I will leave Tokyo to Okinawa on February 1 to start my second semester of Bible College. When I finish this semester in May, I will go to Florida for the Summer. I will do my best to get a job (or find some way to earn money) so that I can pay for my tuition to go to CCBC Murrieta, California for my third semester (Fall 2010) and after that spend my Birthday and Christmas in Florida and make some money for a final semester of Bible college somewhere around this world. That is, if the Lord tarries. Then, I plan to leave Florida in Fall 2011 or Spring 2012 to begin ministry in Japan. Perhaps I shall begin by teaching English in a more rural area (I do desire that) of Hokkaido or some other place in mainland Japan. I would love to someday fulfill my dream, but again I will not tell you that here. If you truly want to know my dream, contact me.

That's all, folks!

I pray that you are blessed as you read this post.

With Christ's unconditional love,

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Where is home? Some say "Home is where the heart is." Paul says that Heaven is the true home of believers and earth is only a temporary stay, a camp of testing on our journey called life. I say that both are correct. Home is where the heart is heaven is our home. Residing and abiding in the heart of the believer is Jesus Christ. Jesus is our Great High Priest, interceding for us at the right hand of God the Father. So, Jesus is in heaven and in our hearts. He commanded us to abide in Him as He abides in us. So, our hearts are abiding with Jesus in heaven. God searches for men and women after His heart. We are exhorted to focus our minds on the things above. We're encouraged to fight the good fight of the faith, pressing on toward the goal of heaven. Jesus said He's preparing a place for us in His Father's house in heaven. Scripture clearly and unmistakably tells us that our home is in heaven.
But, on earth we have homes as well. Our homes on earth are those places where our family resides. Not only our biological family, however. When we gave our lives to Christ, He adopted us into His family. This means that all believers are brothers and sisters. Paul exhorted Timothy to treat all older women as his mother all younger women as his sister. We are addressed by Paul, Peter, and several others as "brethren." So, our family is made up of fellow believers. Therefore, our home is wherever another spiritual brother, sister, or mother is. Now, we obviously all have a biological home. This home is our base camp. Who we are was formed from an early age in our home. God molded us into the person we are today through circumstances, events, and parental guidance in that home. Yes, we continue to grow and He continues to mold us until the day we go Home, but our upbringing plays a huge part in our life.
So, when I say "I'm home" I mean "I'm with family." I long for the day when I go Home. But for now, I am satisfied with wherever the Lord has me, with whatever home He puts me in. And I will always have a longing to visit my biological home, to be with my biological family. I love my dad and my mom, my older sister, younger brother, and younger sister with my whole heart. I will always miss them and always love them. I praise the Lord every day, thanking Him for blessing me with such a wonderful, God-fearing family. My parents are the best in the world, and I would never want to trade my siblings in for anyone else. I am who I am and where I am because of their obedience to the Lord, their faith in Him, and their faithfulness to lead me in the way I should go.
So home is where the heart is. My heart is with the Lord, I have offered myself to Him, I love Him with my whole heart. The Lord is everywhere, omnipresent. He resides in all believers. Therefore, my home is wherever I am and wherever I go. I am content wherever I am. Admittedly, I'm happier in some places than in others, but all the same, I am content. Oh haste the day when Jesus comes and brings me Home to reside with the Father and His children forever! Until that day, I'm home.

Praise the Lord :)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Cooler Weather

After a summer of very hot weather, with temperatures between 32-36 Celsius (mid to upper 90's Fahrenheit) with high humidity (typically 70-80%), we finally get a break. The temperature right now is about 31 Celsius (or 88 Fahrenheit) and 68% humidity. It feels incredible! What a blessing :)

Now, I was thinking about the times in our lives that are burning hot with not only temptations, but trials as well. As the enemy shoots his fiery darts (Ephesians 6:16), he often sets our lives ablaze. We get consumed by pains and troubles, we pray for holy rain to extinguish the fires, temptations fly at us with inconceivable speed, our only thoughts are "when will this end" and "why me?" We forget that our thoughts should be "when this ends, I'll be walking peacefully with Jesus" and "I'm blessed to suffer with Christ and thus be rewarded with paradise just as Christ has been rewarded (Romans 8:17)." The main point being we shouldn't worry about when it will end but instead we should hope for that which comes after it ends! Because it will end, it's just a matter of time. That time is simply the rest of your life on this earth. Then time ends and eternity begins. Eternity that, for the believer, will be spent with Christ in His eternal glory and paradise. No heat, no pain, no suffering, no sorrow, no mourning, no hate, no death. Just love, life, comfort, peace, joy, happiness, and eternal life with Jesus Christ, our Saviour!
We will suffer our whole human lives, but there are also times of refreshing and renewing. Just as the weather has cooled down for the time being, trials and the fires of Hell will cease to attack so viciously for seasons. God knows that we can't survive without rest, therefore He is our rest (Psalm 16:9; 23; 62; Jeremiah 31:2; etc.) Just as God rested from His work, He also commands us to rest from ours (Genesis 2:2-3.) Without one day a week off, we become weary and cannot work for the Lord. So as we fight the enemy, as our war goes on, we become weary and restless. Therefore God gives us rest during our lifetime war just as He did for Joshua: "Then the land had rest from war" (11:23).
So, we will have trouble in this life, but take heart! Christ has overcome the world (John 16:33)!
Be at peace, Christian, for your pain and sufferings are short-lived. You can rest in His presence here and now, be comforted by His Spirit, live in His love! But woe to you, un-believer, for your pain and sufferings are not only in this world, but in the eternity to come! Believe and repent, be forgiven and find rest.
Isaiah 42:12

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Cleaning Time

After breakfast and group devotions, we spent the morning cleaning the neighboring parking lots and the cafe from top to bottom. It looks so much better. The weird thing is, I really didn't notice how dirty the cafe was until we cleaned it. I believe our lives can often be the same way. We get caught up in the flesh and lose our cleanliness.

Firstly, I don't mean to say that we ourselves are ever perfectly clean here on this earth. I mean that when we are in a state of repentance, the Lord keeps us clean through Christ. Secondly, I don't necessarily mean we get caught up in sin. Sometimes we just get so distracted by the things of this world (i.e., work, school, friends) that we aren't focused on our walk with Christ. We may spend time with Him faithfully every day, but lose focus of Him throughout the day. So we need to spend time every morning letting the Lord have a field day in our hearts. And every day and every thing we do should be done for the glory of God.

So, more than just reading the Bible in the morning we need to seek the Lord and His spiritual "custodial" skills, if you will. What I mean is this: even when we spend time in our devotions in the morning, we often do it out of some feeling of obligation, or we read and pray because we are going through something and are seeking the Lord's will in a situation. We are obligated to read the Word IF, and only if, we desire a close relationship with Him. And seeking His will in our situation is required to live a Godly life.

However, there is much more to spending time with Him. We need to daily allow Christ to crucify our flesh and to fill us with Him. We need to take time to pray "God, I desire You and You desire me. Empty me of me and fill me with You. Keep my eyes focused on you continually so that I don't mess up and remove myself from Your presence. Purify my heart, and make my hands clean so that I can climb on Your mountain and praise You with holy hands." Until we allow Christ to cleanse us with His blood--DAILY--we cannot seek the Lord's will in our lives, we cannot become closer to Christ. Romans 12:1 says to offer our bodies as sacrifices to God, holy and pleasing to Him. We must allow Christ to cleanse and renew our hearts and minds; THEN we "will be able to test and approve what God's will is--His good, pleasing and perfect will." And how can we grow closer to God if He cannot look at us? For God has "hidden your face from us and made us waste away because of our sins" Isaiah 64:7b. Now, we can never focus completely on Christ 100% of the time while we live in this world. But, we are required by grace to seek His face in the morning, in the afternoon, and in the evening. All throughout the day we need to pray for His healing hand to reprimand our sinful flesh and pride spirits. And--Praise His name!--He was, is, and will always be FAITHFUL to Forgive and Forget, to cleanse us every time we seek His mercy.

Now, like Paul, I don't say any of this because I am already at this place in my walk with Christ, but because I 1) seek your accountability and prayers in this area of my walk, 2) seek to grow daily in my walk and my humility, and 3) seek to exhort you all and encourage you. The main reason I write is because the Lord has been convicting ME about this and I believed it good to share with you all. So, please pray for me as I pray for you.

With love,

"Let them give glory to the LORD and proclaim his praise in the islands." ~ Isaiah 42:12

Friday, August 14, 2009

Farewell Friends

Well, this morning the first of the SOS crew left :( Briana, Natalie, and Stephen. It feels weird saying goodbye today, since I was supposed to leave. I can't believe the Lord is keeping me here! He truly does give us the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4!) I pray that I'll be able to focus on my relationship with Jesus and not be distracted by people leaving and by those I'm away from. I am going to miss everyone, so God bless you Briana, Natalie, and Stephen! I will keep you in my prayers.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Current Events

Well, I am officially staying here in Okinawa. Until December 8th, at least. I was asked to stay for the fall semester of Bible college. So, I stepped out in faith (knowing I had absolutely no funds) and talked to my parents about it. We prayed and all agreed that if it was God's will I should definitely do it! So, we worked on getting funds from churches and other donors and the finances are provided for now. We got my ticket changed and bought another one. I will be going back to Melbourne for about ten days on October 4th, for Rebecca's wedding. Then I will return here on the 14th and finish the semester.

Also, I have a new name: Kentaro. It's my Japanese name. Just thought you should know ;)

Anywho... So, yeah, I'm staying! Pray for me!

I'm praying for you guys daily, I miss you guys and am excited to see y'all in October.

God bless,

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Kooshin Shimasu (update)

So, Friday was pretty crazy. We woke up, ate breakfast at the cafe (except we didn't really eat, I'll tell you why,) and left to CCOkinawa to do some work. We got there at about 9:30 and started working straight away. Most of the crew went inside to move furniture and boxes and do some mopping and other cleaning for the Christian school that's moving in there. A few of the super strong, ultra manly guys--Diego, Eder, Pastor Tommy, Chuck, Adam, and myself of course--stayed outside and pried about fourty cement parking stoppers out of the ground and loaded them in the vans to be moved to CCGinowan. About five minutes after we started, the rain decided to follow suit and the floodgates of the heavens opened, drenching us. Mind you this was about day three of the Typhoon and the first real rain we had had. Also, I had just begun to feel the symptoms of the swine flu the night before. So, not a great scenario, albeit cooler and possibly more comfortable than the scorching, Okinawan sun. The physically trying prying and back-breaking body-building continued until about noon. Our hands were raw and our bodies were drenched, but our spirits were high. There's nothing better than working hard for the Lord... and knowing that our earthly reward for our labor would be a free meal at Yakiniku.
Ahh, Yakiniku: The Glutton's heaven. All-you-can-eat, grill-it-yourself meat, veggies, rice, and ice cream (yes, soft-serve ice cream which is even more amazing in Japan!) It's amazing. You walk away sick and hunger doesn't creep back until the next day. Sorry if you're jealous, but as God's word says "The righteous eat to their hearts' content, but the stomach of the wicked goes hungry" Proverbs 13:25. Anywho, enough twisting the scriptures to justify my gluttony. (btw, Yakiniku is the reason we didn't really eat breakfast, cause we wanted to eat as much as possible at Yakiniku.)
Oh, about the swine flu. Yeah, it's horrible. But it's nothing more than a summertime normal flu. So no worries, just be happy.... yup.
Let us see... oh yes, we were going to spend the last few days on Ie-Jima, one of the Okinawan islands, but seeing as everyone's sick or recovering from sickness, we won't be doing that. So I'm not really sure what's going down the next few days.

Well, that's about it folks. I miss you guys and I'm looking forward to coming home.
For now I pray for you continually, having you always on my mind.

God bless you all!

Isaiah 42:12