Monday, November 16, 2009

Let the Children Come

Japanese celebrate a 1000-year-old festival in November called Shichigosan. “Shichigosan” literally means “seven, five, three.” These are the ages that are considered critical in a child’s development by Japanese. Parents will dress their children in traditional clothing, and take them to the local shrine where the priest will offer a prayer of blessing from the gods.

This affords a unique opportunity for the church in Japan. There is no stronger god than the true, living God; and no greater blessing than that which He gives. Why not ask parents to have the church pray for their children instead?

This past November Sunday, I again had the opportunity to pray for the salvation or spiritual growth of kids gathered at our church, as parents watched and listened. Jesus said, “Let the little children come!” and so we welcome them in His name!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Family Time

A few decades ago there were only a couple churches in greater Tokyo within our association. Today there are more than 20. All things considered, the rate of church planting has been fairly robust. There is still much work to do, and many setbacks in the work that has already been done.

Annually we have a "Family Festa" or joint meeting of all the greater Tokyo area churches as a way of cultivating community and fellowship, and helping us develop a bigger picture of what God is doing in our midst. 150 people might not sound like much with 24 churches involved, but this is quite a large group of Christians by Japanese standards!

This past week, five of us from our church plant, Denen Grace, woke up at the crack of dawn to travel across Tokyo to be a part of this Festa, held at a larger association church. Here's a photo of a few of our church people around the lunch table outdoors. Three are new believers! Pray for even more harvest to come from among our churches spread across the Kanto plain!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Finding Resting in 7-11 24/7 Japan

This past week I preached in our church on the importance of rest. I shared how the concept of rest flows thematically through Scripture, from God's modeling physical rest for us in Genesis 2 after creation through Christ offering spiritual rest to us in Matthew 11:28.

Sometimes the preacher needs to pay attention to his own message. We have been far too busy as a family in the last two months and scarcely have had a chance to rest. We justify the busyness (or at least I do) by reminding ourselves that it is for God's kingdom purposes. That's good busyness, right? But we need rest. Truth is, most people in Tokyo do. This culture is a 7-11 24/7 365days a year, non-stop culture. People are worn down and worn out. It's obvious just by doing a little people watching. And our church people are equally overstressed and overworked. The biggest obstacle to church planting in Japan (in my humble opinion, at least), is that the hectic lifestyle gives no room for one to consider spiritual things, much less be part of a church community in a consistent way.

Well, I digress. What I really wanted to say is that we finally took 3 days off as a family and went down south to the Mt. Fuji area. The fall colors were wonderful, as was the time together as family. Enjoying our connection with God, with his creation, and with each other. The same components of rest that man experienced in Eden. It's good to take time aside to taste a bit of Eden again!