Monday, September 27, 2010

From Gangs to God

I was moved by this article of a former member of a Japanese mafia gang, Tatsuya Shindo. From a history of drug abuse, crime, and prison time, God saved him. He's attended seminary and now begun a church here in the Tokyo area, called Friend of Sinners Christ Church. Church attendees include former gang members or the parents of current prisoners. He still sports the tattoos and cut pinky as a sign of his organized crime days, but God has redeemed him to work among Japan's worst dropouts. What a what of change God can do in the human heart.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


I'd been putting it off. Although I knew it was important, taking inventory of our earthquake and disaster gear just wasn't getting done. Japan rests along the "ring of fire" in the Pacific ocean, a stretch of area that is particularly vulnerable to earthquake activity. And so having a backpack of essentials by your door to grab on the way out is, well, essential. But mild earthquakes in Tokyo have become such a rather regular part of our lives that we've let our guard down a bit. We weren't ready for an earthquake to come.

When I finally got around to assessing our earthquake readiness, I realized how unready we were. Wiping the dust off the backpack in the carport, I unzipped it to find a horror story inside. The batteries had attempted an escape, leaking acid all over the contents of the bag. To make matters worse, the acid had actually bored a hole through one of the canned items, which oozed its contents out and into the bag as well. It was not pretty (and now I know why all those stray cats were hanging around outside for awhile). The remainder of the canned food seemed intact, but the expiration date was 5 years ago. The bottled water also looked a bit suspicious. The short of it is: we weren't ready for an earthquake to come.

As I replaced and organized new gear for us, my thoughts turned toward the "parables of readiness" in Matthew 25. Five bridesmaids wisely carried extra oil. Two servants carefully used their entrusted resources. A wise and faithful servant works to the best of his or her ability to use what he has been given, and prepares himself for the Master's return and inspection. With God's help, I want to be ready in my life and work for my Master to come. How ready are you?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Food "or" Thought

"Anyone seen my swimming buddy lately?" There was something about this scene that struck me as sobering, yet almost comical. When I saw what was becoming of these poor fish, I had to stop to record the moment - see this video. Seize the Day, indeed. One moment swimming carefree together with friends, and the next shishkabobbed in front of a fire.

Yes, this fried fish-on-a-stick is actually a popular treat throughout Japan. I am sure there is a sermon illustration in here about the fragility of life and uncertainty of the future. I could almost hear the fish in the tank whispering in agreement with David, "Teach us to number our days aright." Ps. 90:12