And then it’s the weekend,

at Kohiya for the third Friday in a row!

Advertisements

Back again

I

Transported back to the three terrific years in London-town, living with little and then a lot, slowly becoming my person, expanding the mind and educating the soul.

Every time this magazine appears in my mailbox, it’s yet another trip down memory lane, the best trip in the week.

Thankful.

A month from long ago

It was difficult to reach an emotional equilibrium there.

I had only a few months back been to the thriving city of Tokyo, and experienced the visible Ground Zero reality of the earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima Davichi disaster of March 11, 2011. The Japanese refer to this event as 3/11. A natural disaster that drove Japan to a new reality of despair and fear – contamination of the entire island. How will they face the prolonged suffering and torture of their own land? What will they do about the irreversible damage to nuclear plants?

3/11 has resulted in a prolonged psychological darkness in the coastal towns.

And for the rest of the world who grapple with their own personal and public Ground Zeros – the fallen twin towers, the consuming Grenfill fire, where was God?

It is tempting to create a cause-and-effect analysis to “understand” calamity. At that time, I did not understand the public pain, and did not have a shelf in my heart to put it on.

A month on, returning from the OMF Conference, I’m not sure I am any closer to the heart of the matter.

Finer things

Sometimes I feel I’m a difficult travel companion, with my inflexible preferences and inconsistent appetites.

So I have been fortunate to be travelling with one of the most patient and generous friends – with a quirky sense of humour that makes me literally LOL, with tears.

Grateful for the days past, cheered for the days ahead.

Everything to the broken heart

Do we lose heart when the body gives way to the aging process? When the knee buckles under one’s weight suddenly, or the lower back twitches with a 20kg luggage load? Does the fear that enters the heart an indication that at times, the hope I have is grounded on physical ability?

Should I admit that I will never do certain things again, and despair? Or shall I not look to the resurrection of Christ, and take heart?

I do not lose heart. Though the outer self is wasting away, the inner self is being renewed day by day. (2 Cor 4)

Easter Sunday is a great day to rededicate to letting His resurrection have its radical effect on the heart and mind. For if in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But.

We are the people living in the hope of the resurrection, which is as Martyn Lloyd-Jones writes:

The Resurrection is the great announcement of the momentous fact that Christ has finished the work He came to do. He is no longer “under the law.” He is back in glory. Why? Because He has done everything that the Law could demand. Now the Law has exhausted itself upon Him, and He will die “no more.”

He need not have died at all. Deliberately He came into the realm of sin and death, in order to deliver us from it all. Now He “dies no more. Death has no more dominion over Him!”

It has all been finished.

Repentance and forgiveness of sins have been purchased for all nations and peoples, if they would repent and believe. There is a greater Hope that brings light to every breaking heart.

So break, heart. And find in the death of self, a new creation in Christ. The old has passed away, behold, the new has come.

Sapporo: Good Friday

So, who nailed Jesus to the tree?

I remember that there were a few times this Conference when, like Peter, James and John in the Garden of Gethsemane, my spirit was willing, but my flesh is weak. I was quicker to pass judgment, slow to pray in faith. I was easily frustrated and disappointed even though outwardly I remembered to temper the tone.

In this heart, I want to pray more fervently, evangelise more boldly and live more selflessly, yet I fail miserably. I give in to my natural tendencies in the same way the disciples gave in to sleep.

Still sin. Oh, that You would continue to reveal the sin in me, so that even if I appear righteous, I will not be blind to my inner hypocrisy and hidden motivations.

To be like Peter, James and John! Saved by His Grace, turning the world upside down through the power of the Spirit. At a Shinto Shrine, in the land of the rising sun.

I realise I spent a good part of the tour inwardly distressed. The grounds of the shrine is massive, and well kept. Visitors who worship here go through the ritual of cleansing themselves with water before entering. They bow respectfully towards the arches. This is their religion, and they treat it seriously.

Me? I don’t believe that one can tie papered prayers to a tree. Who will hear them, I wonder?

But then I realise that perhaps this is how others see Christianity – a religion ritualised.

But that is not the Gospel.

Mega Churches are not the Gospel. Cell group is not the gospel. Worship service is not the gospel.

What is, then?

This is the Gospel: that Jesus the Christ saved me, not because I am good, but because God is good.

He did so in spite of me, in spite of my hidden motives and deceitful heart and horrifying resemblance to the weak-willed disciples and the spitting crowd.

This Friday is a Good Friday.

You are extravagantly loved.

Day 3 – sayonara

We don’t make friends in 2 and a half days, especially not with young people who have lived with transient and impermanent relationships for most of their lives.

Yet, it has been a true blessing to have met this bunch of Japanese TCKs – to see how God works in their lives and in their families, to build up men and women for His glory.

Elijah gets a special Polaroid picture, because he made a pandan floss roll just for me, even though it was a Singapore food tasting session. The rest of the clan.

Our youth room was a mess, and our programme was altered as and when, and we barely had enough time to rest before the next day’s shift. Yet, we know that God is honoured when Bibles are opened, in Japanese or in English, and His Word is proclaimed when young people read aloud, whether carelessly or casually.

His Word will not return to Him empty.

So I praise the God of the nations today.

The OMF Conference has ended, and we have experienced brief, rich fellowship that the Saviour bought for us. It did not matter whether German, English, Japanese, Chinese, or Swiss – we can gather in a room to sing praises and glorify Him who sends out workers into the harvest field.

Dabbing with youth is just one way of building the Body.