Thursday, July 17, 2008

The fun of shattering prejudices

So my Bible study on Thursdays is a lot of fun for me. It's a wonderful class, with one student who is very open and honest about what she thinks. In almost every lesson, she is completely surprised by what she reads. We discovered today that this is because of her prejudice of the Bible. She has this pre-concieved idea of what the Bible is about. Most people do. I imagine that most people think the Bible is this "holy, dry, boring book that tells us what to do." Little did she know that the Bible is actually rated R! haha. The Bible is a book about humanity. Actually it's about the relationship of humanity and God, and what God is doing to fix the broken relationship. So it's got all the messy details you'd find in the worst kind of divorce. But God's still trying to fix the relationship. It's amazing.

This is one of the best things about teaching the Bible. The basic shock vaule of it. When people find out what's really in the Bible, it's great to watch their expressions and have them grasp it for the first time.

I guess that's all the reward I need most days. I just like shocking people. haha. It's fun.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Random Funny story.

So recently I eat dinner every Tuesday night with the Deaconess of our church and her son. It's nice to have someone else to eat with, and I get some home cooked food. It's also a good chance to use more Japanese. So today reminded me of a dinner we had a couple of months back.

The little boy mentioned something a while back. While we were preparing dinner, he looked at his mom and said "That Fanta on Sunday was really good!" I was a bit confused, so his mom had to explain.

So our church has communion every week. For people who don't want to drink wine, you can go first and drink grape juice. Well I guess one Sunday, there was none of the regular people who prepared for Sunday service. So service started, and someone noticed that communion had not been prepared. So during the service they were rushing around to get things ready. Well, turns out they couldn't find the grape juice usually used for communion. In a panic, it was replaced by some grape Fanta in the fridge. So when the boy went to take communion, he was a bit shocked to find Fanta instead of grape juice. But he thought it was a great idea and thought they should do it every week! Haha.

I just remembered it, and wanted to put it up here. Hope you can get a laugh from it.

(We have since found the grape juice and haven't had the same problem again. I think the Fanta has also been taken out of the fridge!)

Anyway, here's another picture from my cell phone. Can you guess what this is? If you think it's a really big church... you are wrong! This is actually quite common in Japan. It's a wedding chapel. They built this recently. At first I was excited because I thought they were building a really cool church. But turns out it's just for a "church feel" for weddings. Weddings are a huge deal here, and they have tons of specialty places to get married. Just in my area there's an English Garden, the big Church, and another place that looks like you can choose from several themes. It's crazy. It's easier to find a wedding chapel in Japan than an actual church. I actually see very few church buildings that look like "traditional" churches in America. Several look like overgrown houses actually, or are downtown and hard to spot among all the other buildings. Anyway, two random revelations.

In other news, it's getting close to summer here. Actually, in Texas, I'm sure it's been summer for several long months now. I forget sometimes. It's still rainy season here. But rainy season is almost over. It's been getting that nasty hot-humid feel lately. It's horrible. Not nearly at hot as West Texas, but way more miserable. But fortunately we've had some rain the last few days that have made it comfortably cool again. But it just reminds me that I'm about to become perpetually hot and sweaty again for a while. Yuck. So not looking forward to Summer. I have three more weeks of teaching to go, then about a week of events before I actually get to "vacation" time. But it will be good. I hope I can go to see fireworks this year.

Ok, that's the rambling for now. It's a bit of a lighter post from what I've been writing lately. I hope you enjoyed it.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Rejoicing in Truth

Today was a good day. In my last class of the week, I have this low-level English class. But the students and I get along really well. Two have been my students for the whole 3+ years I've been teaching. One is pretty new and the other has been an on again off again student. It's a rather random mixture of people, but for the most part we have a good atmosphere.

One of the ways I try to connect with my students is about sharing various parts of my life with them, not just my thoughts on religion and English. My thinking is that if they know me as a person, they are more willing to listen to why I love God.

So today was a sign of progress for me with this group of students. Usually my students give me a lot of encouragement. They like me, so they only want to tell me things they think I want to hear. If I point out one of my faults or something, they are quick to gloss over it. Don't make waves is one of the cardinal rules of Japan it seems. But for me it's a bit frustrating. I don't want to be fed "sugar" all the time. I want truth, vegetables if you will. But most of the people I know here, just want to make me happy for that moment.

But tonight was wonderful. I had a student feel comfortable enough in the relationship to give me his honest opinion in the mater we were talking about. This rather shocked the other three students, who quickly tried to gloss over his words. But I was really happy to have someone speak their true opinion, even if it was one I might not want to hear.
When that happens, I feel like the relationship has moved to a deeper connecting place. I now have more confidence in his words, and I respect the things he says to me a little more. (now this doesn't mean I'm going to blindly believe anything he tells me. It just means I respect him more.)

I guess one of the things I value most in relationships is the ability to be open and honest. To be able to speak truth, and not have it ruin the relationship. I desire this kind of relationship with God, and with other people. Most of the time I can't have it. But sometimes I can catch glimpses of true relationships. That is the most encouraging thing for me.

So there's my strangeness of the day. I'm encouraged by hearing not so encouraging words. :-D It's a good day!

Anyway, the pictures have nothing to do with the post, but here are some more pictures from the park I took a couple of weeks back.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

"Fix your eyes on..."

What do you fix your eyes on?

It's not a question I think about often, but today as I was praying, God taught me another lesson about faith, and what it means to fix your eyes on something.

In a couple of months, it will mark my 3rd year of knowing the band. I know many people probably think I'm a bit crazy, and sometimes I do too. (would it surprise you to know there are fans who have been there for 9 years! I'm not even one of the hard core fans.) I spend almost every weekend with these people, not just the band members, but also other fans. I really love my time there. I love the music, I love the people. It has been such a blessing to me.

But, I admit. I am a fan. When I go, of course, I can't understand 100% of the Japanese that is going on around me. Actually, I'm lucky to get 30%. So this means I have to gather information in other ways. My powers of observation have really grown since coming to Japan. I can't rely on language skills alone, so I watch, and learn. Maybe I have always been fairly observant, but I don't know if I ever LEARNED anything from it. Now, I'm putting those skills to good use.

So when I go to the band, I of course listen to the music, but I also watch. I probably watch very intently. I've gotten rather good actually. I can often guess what the next song will be, because I'm watching and listening to the members. Or I can recognize the first chord of a song. I can anticipate what they will do next, because I'm observing them so closely. I find great joy in this. I like knowing more about them and seeing what they will do next.

Now, this might seem like a strange tangent. But this is how God teaches me lessons. I have to learn by example. I have to see something in action to really understand it. Experience is the ultimate teacher.

So today God showed me how I can "fix my eyes" on the band and the joy I get from that. So how much more wonderful would it be to fix my eyes on Him? Wouldn't it be wonderful to be so focused on God that you can anticipate what He might do next? So caught up in His presence that you find out more and more about His character. So in tune with Him that He only has to play one chord before you know the next "song." That is my longing right now. I've experienced a small taste of that with the band. But I long to drink more deeply of the "real thing."

Right now there seems to be so much going on in Japan. I know something is coming. I can feel it everywhere. But I don't know what God is going to do next. But, like I wait eagerly for the next song the band will play, I am also waiting eagerly to see what God is going to do with all these strange pieces He is gathering here. God is making a new "song" for Japan, and I can't wait to hear it!

I'm thankful for this lesson in how I should be relating to God.

On a side note, I am looking for people willing to pray for me on a regular basis. If you are interested, please leave me a message, or send me an e-mail. Thank you very much.

The pictures today are some of the things I "set my eyes" on here in Japan. First is a picture of the band from last Sunday night. Then there is a nice park I went to a couple of weeks ago. Isn't it amazing how God can reveal things about Himself in anything?