First moments with my baby girl and prayers…? or sermon

信仰と愛 Faith & love

Our baby girl, Selah Hikari (聖愛 ひかり), was born last Friday August 15th! Here is a video I made of her with me the first few moments just after being born. My voice seemed like it stopped her crying… And I’m not just saying that because I’m a new father who loves his little girl. I talked to her a lot with Kaori while Selah was still in the womb and I think it makes a difference in how she responds to me now.

Selah is doing well and mama is recovering from the birth. I expected the labor to be longer, like at least fifteen hours or something but it only lasted four hours. We had a really good doctor and he even let me cut the umbilical cord.

August 15th has significance in Japan… Not only for being the birthday of our baby girl. It’s the day Japan calls Shusen-kinenbi, 終戦記念日, “Memorial day for the end of the war.” As well, obon in Japan usually comes to an end August 15th. You could say that obon is similar to the United States’s Thanksgiving holiday weekend, a time when people return to their hometown to be with family. The spiritual significance though is very different, I wrote about it here if your interested in learning more.

Spirituality… I’ve become very spiritual it would seem over the past decade. It’s been an ever growing and changing process ever since I became a Christian back in college. And I’m not just talking about the title of ‘Christian,’ I have a real relationship with the God of all Creation. The Trinity, one God in three persons; the Father, the son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit as revealed in the bible. Jesus Died for my sins and everything that separated me from the Father’s love and His presence in my life is alive via the Holy Spirit. Jesus resurrected from death and went back to heaven about two thousand years ago but God’s presence is still with us by the Holy Spirit, and he’s still working on me. I’m not just spiritual or just a Christian, we follow Jesus Christ by the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit.

I like the way Pastor Mark Driscoll out of Seattle once put it, just being ‘spiritual’ is like randomly dialing a phone number and entrusting yourself and all your personal information to whoever picks up the phone… He said something to that effect. That’s dangerous and you wouldn’t do that. Just as I also wouldn’t take my daughter to a playground and leave her with a complete stranger. The same applies spiritually. A guy named John, who spent about three years learning from Jesus and wrote five books of the New Testament of the bible, said do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God… Every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God (1 John 4:1-3).

In the video above I told Selah that one way God has told us to refer to him is as Father and that he shares that name with me that I would love her, instruct her, and point her to her true Father… Her Heavenly Father. That is healthy spirituality! and it is just as important as making sure that all of her daily needs like food, water, shelter, and so on are provided for. Food is not the only thing we need to feed on (Deuteronomy 8:3). Ultimately it’s God who would be the one to open Selah’s heart to Him if He chooses to do so (Ephesians 1:3-6). Whatever God’s plan for Selah’s life I know that he wants me as a father to love her with the love he continues to give me through Jesus.

Jesus, I pray that my little girl would know you. I know that it’s your Spirit that opens hearts to receive the gospel and I’m praying that Selah’s heart would be open to you. I pray that she would see her sin and her need for your forgiveness. I pray that in your arms she would have no reason to fear, I’m praying that you would be with her. Guard her against evil spirits and those whom they influence. No matter what life process you have in store for her please help me know how to be there for her in a way that honors and glorifies you and helps and loves her practically. Please Lord give her wisdom an discernment in life spiritually and life in general for your glory, kingdom, and her well being.

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Contextualization in Japan; Becoming a father;) and just rambling on…

信仰と愛 Faith & love

It feels like there is so much God is doing in Japan, so much on the horizon of God’s grace that is about to and is already taking place. There are some awesome ministries that labor with great effort and talent that people would know that Jesus Christ is alive, resurrected in his body right now ruling and reigning over every nation and people group.

Jesus is God, he came from heaven into human history as a baby born of a virgin, and lived a perfectly pure life free of any sin, cowardice, or regrets. This Person when he grew into a man allowed the creation he created to murder him on a cross, but he used this most horrible event in history for the greatest good through which he absorbed the sins of the world and reconnected humanity to a relationship of peace with the God of all creation… Also freeing us from the power and influence of evil spirits due to our sins that kept us separated from God’s love deserving only his wrath and judgement. It’s the greatest news ever! In Japan as well as other places through out the world this message is not yet known but that does not mean that God isn’t already at work within those places and people groups.

I have written in the past about a traditional festival in Japan call Hadaka Matsuri that seems to reflect the gospel in a very unique way. I’ve also come across other elements of traditional Japanese culture that seem completely pagan and unredeemable for Christians to have anything to do with. But those same cultural elements have strikingly similar resemblances to Ancient Israel and practices observed in the Old Testament of the bible. Japan indeed has a very mysterious relationship with Christianity. Here are some other links I believe are worth looking into that I’ve posted in the past.

A Japanese Festival That Reflects The Gospel

God’s Fingerprints In Japan Part 1 & Part 2

Does Japan Have Ancient Israelite Connections Part 1 & Part 2

Origins of sumo wrestling from ancient Israel

Genesis Revealed in Kanji: parts 1 through 6

It appears as though these topics and the questioning of what it means to contextualize the message of the gospel for a Japanese audience is growing, at least from my vantage point surveying various websites and social media.

JapanCAN.com is a good website to learn more about missions and Christianity in Japan, but also specifically about the tension of contextualization verses syncretism. Syncretism basically meaning that you compromise fundamental biblical truths and merge with other religions and spiritual practices in order to make the gospel more appealing. This in and of itself changes the gospel message itself and does not honor God. It can be a hot topic for those who are serious about evangelism in Japan. Nearly all of the criticism I’ve received online are from the links I’ve posted above, some of it very rude and trolling… surprisingly from Christians!

But honestly I’m excited to see that this topic is at least gaining more attention because I do believe God has something for it with helping Japanese comprehend the gospel and receive it as something from within their own culture and not just as the western God. Western Christianity itself in it’s various forms is contextualized from the gospel message that originated in the Middle East. JapanCan.com recently posted an interview with author and sociologist Samuel Lee on this very topic of contextualization and syncretism, I highly recommend checking it out as well as a few other articles from JapanCAN below.

6 Ways To Contextualize Worship To Japan

Contextualizing The Gospel For Japan A “Hot Topic”

Is There Any Hope For Japan?

For me contextualizing with the gospel while remaining true to the biblical message is a very serious yet tricky issue. But the interpretation and implementation of God’s word culturally and contextually is very important. I myself am a five point Calvinist… Well, maybe four and a half point Calvinist ;). I have convictions but am willing to work together with and learn from those who have different theological interpretations. As long as there is an attitude to learn from each other and work together a lot can get done in the name of Christ.

I believe there is so much the Christian community in Japan can learn from Samuel’s research and heart for the gospel in Japan as he talks about in the interview mentioned above and through various books on Japan he has written.

The_Japanese__Christianity.JPG

This doesn’t mean that I agree with everything he emphasizes with gospel mission in Japan. For example, Samuel writes a lot about Uchimura Kanzo and his influence in starting the non-Church movement during the Meiji period… Non-church movement?! I’m still trying to understand why the emphasis on that. Yes Uchimura Kanzo was a great thinker and did a lot for Christianity during that time. But Jesus loves the church, the bible uses language that compares it to how a husband sacrificially loves his wife. It is true the church collectively are people and not just buildings, organizations, and denominations. But there needs to be order in how God’s people organize themselves as the church in for harmony and in order to have the most possible impact for the gospel in society. Large portions of the New Testament address church organization so it must be pretty important for God’s people and his plan for evangelism through out the world. But maybe there are just somethings that I am misunderstanding about what the non-church movement actually was.

I’m glad to learn of the LOVE JAPAN conference coming to Japan later this year, I really wish that I could go. John Piper, D.A. Carson, and Michael Oh are just a few of the speakers who will be in attendance. I believe that they bring a well balanced theological preaching that encourages the kind of doctrinal foundation needed for all to receive the gospel as well as engage culture with this message that everyone needs to be engaged with… And how to maybe do that with the approach Samuel Lee talks about in his interview with JapanCAN.

For me it’s so exciting to think about and wrestle with these specific ministry related issues in Japan. How far can you go into culture with the gospel as a Christian without losing the it’s message and our Christian witness of Christ at work in us. God’s people are to be holy, set apart, and perfect as God is perfect (Matthew 5:48)… But then also to be like Jesus; who many times was accused of syncretist like accusations, being a friend of sinners and participating in their sinful acts (Matthew 9:10-13) while his only motive was one of love to bring healing to those in need.

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So I guess I could go on and on. This blog has changed a lot from the days when I first started it, just about 5 years ago now. I was learning a lot then that I wanted to make available to those interested. Since then I’ve experienced a lot. Life has had it’s tragedies but God has continued to be faithful to provide for our needs between living back and forth in Japan and the States, getting married, and now becoming a father. Our family just grew by a baby girl!

I like to blog about big picture things like Japanese culture, contextualization, missiology, and evangelism. But my wife, who joined me on this blog, likes to write about our memories, cooking, and date nights. East is married to west in our relationship and something new is being born… Someone more specifically, my daughter. But what could come about from Christianity in Japan if east and west came together as family, what could God cause to be born? Something powerful for his glory I bet.

What I write about I feel will be changing. Being married and having a family… Black and Japanese mix. It’s a big deal in Japan especially if your wife is from the Japanese countryside. But it’s been a while for me to write anything here and it feels good just to write from my heart with some updates and things. For those who stuck it out with me this far, thanks!

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素敵なホテルにお泊まり〜お部屋編

日常生活 Daily life

旦那さんが来てから、もう一つしたかったこと。
ずーっと行ってみたかったリゾートホテルでデート&お泊まり。With The Styleというホテル。リゾートスタイルのレストランや建物が好きなので、ずーっと行ってみたかったんだ〜♪

チェックインの場所に手こずったけど、無事に中へ〜♡廊下は暗くて、なんだかクリエイティブな絵が飾ってあって、期待が高まりました!さて、今回泊まったこちらのお部屋。とっても解放的ですぐ気に入りました!!ブラインドの感じもいいし、私の好きな間接照明もたくさんあるくつろぎの空間♡

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iPad、apple TV も置いてあって音楽も聞けるし、映画も見れます。

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洗面台も二つあって便利。

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トイレとシャワー。お部屋や廊下にもこのお尻にフォーカスした絵が飾ってありました(笑) シャワー圧がちょうどよくで気持ちよかったな〜。アメニティも事前に妊婦ということを伝えておいたら、赤ちゃんにも使える肌に優しいアメニティを用意してくださっていました!

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でも好きなときに飲めるコーヒー。カフェインレスのもあって、嬉しかったです。

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南部鉄器?の急須と地元のお菓子やさんのお茶菓子。

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用途によって、いろんなカップ、グラスを選べます♪

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お部屋の飲み物はアルコールもあり、すべてフリーだったけど、妊婦の私は飲めない…(泣)だからスタッフの方がワインを作る同じぶどうで作られたとっても美味しいブドウジュースを持ってきてくれました。私たちが選んだのは白♡見た目はワインのボトルですよね〜。とっても美味しかったです!こういう気配りがこの時間をもっと豊かにしてくれます♡

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久しぶりの贅沢な時間。こんな素敵な機会を与えてくれた神様に感謝感謝♪

次はラウンジ編に続きます♪

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