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

Friday, August 7, 2009

Long time, no write

I know it's been almost a month since I've wrote. Sorry, but life here has just been insanely busy. So, I will update you. The past four weeks have involved much ministry and a lot of fun, too. We've seen waterfalls, many beaches, matsuri (Japanese festivals,) Habu (Japanese pit-vipers) and Mongeese (I guess that's how it's spelled.) We've been to at least three of the nine U.S. Military bases on the island of Okinawa. We've seen the ruins of the Katsuren Castle. But, most importantly we have done a lot of ministering and outreach. On Sundays, Wednesdays, and Fridays we minister at different churches/chapels. We minister at two of the bases--Kinzer and Futenma--and at Calvary Chapel Okinawa (the church we are with is Calvary Chapel Ginowan.) On Friday nights we also have a Japanese prayer time at Pastor Tom's house. Since there are so many ministeries, we have to split up the group. Not to mention, we minister at CCG. For outreach we pass out tracts and do worship at Mihama (a huge shopping center) and at the Matsuri we've gone to. This past week, we did a VBS at one of the parks. That went well, but we had to cut it short due to the Typhoon. And right now a bunch of us (including myself) have the swine flu. But it's all good cause God is good. Praise the Lord!

Love y'all and miss ya!