Saturday, February 28, 2015

Here I stand and here we stand!―a courage to remain in His truth regarding the female ordination issue in the church

This morning, with a trembling heart, I composed an open letter to the female preachers in Japan, pleading them to keep His word which clearly forbids women from preaching or ruling over men in the church. 

As many of you know, I used to preach and rule over men in the church, purely believing that it was His Will that I was chosen as one of the spiritual leaders.Later, however, someone told me very clearly from the Bible that what I was doing was not biblical. And I accepted it because the agonies and instabilities which I had suffered during those periods indicated that something was wrong in me. And then what happened? Healing after healing! I tasted that when we respect God’s creation order which is written in the Bible, we can truly rest in Him.

Biblical equality between man and woman is fundamentally different from the “equality” which secular humanists or egalitarians claim. I learned that we are equal in nature (ousia in Greek) but different in order or function.

I used to think if I obey someone, it means I am inferior ontologically, but I was wrong. The Bible says the head of Jesus is God (I Cor 11:3). It also says “when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all (I Cor 15:28)”. Does it mean Jesus is inferior to Father ontologically? No, not at all! They are totally equal in nature but different in terms of order/function. The same thing can be said between man and woman. We are totally equal in nature but different in terms of order/function.

Though I found this truth many years ago, I have been silent.  I did not dare to make my belief about this issue in public for fear of losing favor or old friendships which I had cherished. I loved man’s favor more than Bible truth.

Through intimate interaction with you, my dear sisters, God started to change me and mold me. I have been inspired by your truth-seeking heart and passion. I was amazed to see your courage to stand in His truth in spite of oppositions or cultural tides. You are so brave and faithful. Your words and actions remind me of the following words of Martin Luther when he was in a very difficult situation;

Unless I am convinced by proofs from Scriptures or by plain and clear reasons and arguments, I can and will not retract, for it is neither safe nor wise to do anything against conscience. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen! Martin Luther (1483-1547)


Here I stand! And here we stand! Though our battles are hard in this modern age, His pure words shall endure and prevail at the end. So, let us not dismay nor overwhelmed by the great numbers who are against us! Jesus Christ is our Victor and He shall win the battle for us! Amen.


God is our fortress



Monday, February 23, 2015

Christian Head covering―a remedy for broken marriages and relationships; Sister Tessa's living example


Recently I read Sister Tessa’s testimony (here) with tears. It was so touching that I could not help but leaving the following comment on her blog;
Dear sweet sister, Tessa,
Tears welled up in my eyes, as I was reading your honest confessions. I felt you were writing straight from your heart and soul.,,One of the wonderful points I see in you, which I highly admire, is that you respond to God’s urge “immediately”. This is awesome and praiseworthy. And I should learn from you! I love your post, I love your character and I love your heart attitude toward God and the Bible. Please continue to share your faith journey with us.  from your fellow head covering sister, Kinuko
Tessa started to cover her head because “her marriage was at a crucial point, and something drastic needed to take place in order to ensure it survived.”

And then do you know what happened? She wrote; “,,(I) saw immediate changes in my marriage. I am still astounded every day by the changes I have seen in my husband, my children, and myself. It has absolutely been worth it for that reason alone. “

Her powerful recovery testimony on marriage opened my eyes to see why this doctrine of head covering has been neglected for 60 or more years. That’s because this practice irritates Satan so much. Satan hates this truth to be revealed to the heart of Christians in modern churches because the revival of this practice does restore broken relationships between husbands and wives. It shall restore family order and unity. It shall wipe tears from children who are suffering in the broken family. And most importantly, it shall glorify our Lord Jesus Christ.

I will quote some of her struggles and deliverance;

“The first problem that had to be dealt with was my relationship with my husband. It has become common in our culture for women to be the leaders of their families, and like it that way. They feel that their husbands act like chidlren, and they are unafraid to slander him to their friends. They believe that they can talk to their husbands however they want, and that their husbands should obey them. 
Being immersed in this culture, I began to find it difficult to not feel that way as well. I was continuously hurting my husband with my words and actions, smearing his name to my friends, and continually having to ask God to help me fix my marriage. That is partially how my husband and I got to a bad place. My solution to that, as stated before, was to actively practice submission. Just deciding to do this has purified me and required me to trust God more than ever before. I have had to silence myself when in groups that bash their husbands. I have had to practice self-control to not argue with my husband when he's made a decision I didn't agree with. I have had to swallow my pride and put my needs before his. I have had to ask God to help me do these things, because I cannot do them on my own. I have gone deeper. I have stepped closer to God. “

And then, she continues how the pracice of head covering has been changing her from inside;

“Headcovering came from a desire to show submission. It has done that, but in addition, it has given me a reminder of what I am called to as a Christian. The other day, I was in the bathroom at work, and I was a little frustrated about something, and I could feel myself getting huffy. As I was washing my hands, muttering something under my breath, I looked in the mirror and saw my head covering. Suddenly, a sense of calm came over me. "Oh, that's right," I thought. "I am a daughter of the One True King. I am called to more than this." 
I asked for forgiveness and help right there, and moved on with my day, with God as my leader. I did not go down the trail that would have led to haughty eyes and dissension. This little piece of cloth on my head is helping me to focus my eyes on Him all the time. This little thing that originally came about as a way to help my marriage is helping me in my walk with God. It is helping me move past those struggles that are keeping me tied to spiritual baby food. “

Ladies, isn’t it wonderful? Let us go to visit her blog and leave messages for this amazing sister who has a child-like spirit. I believe that her recovery on marriage will bring tremendous blessings on countless other couples who have passed through similar trials and difficulties.

Tessa, we all encourage you and pray for you! 

Here is her blog.

further readings; The Effects of the Headcovering on Divorce


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

How to have confidence toward God when we don't


In my previous post, I wrote about the truth-seeking spirit. Today, I’d like to talk about the vulnerable side of the truth-seekers and how we can have confidence toward God.

When we start to seek Bible truth seriously, we often feel we are exposed to some sort of uncertainties and vulnerabilities. That’s because the Truth often challenges and shakes our belief systems to its core. He shakes our foundations when there are some elements which He wants us to re-examine. If we are stubborn and arrogant in front of the truth, He cannot deal with our false assumptions and biases.

Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. Heb 12:27

But one thing I realize we must be careful during this process is that we should not let our feelings say whatever they want about our condition in Christ. We must say again and again to our soul that our foundation is not based on our feelings but on the Promise of God.

Today, I received consolation and assurance by the following words from the book of Hebrews;

And having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. Heb 10: 21-23

If our confession of faith is just a mental assent, we are blown back and forth by our feelings and outer circumstances. Thus what we need is to ask our Lord to reveal to us each biblical truth so that the truth may penetrate our whole being.

Recently, I read Brother Joel’s post entitled "How to Have Confidence Toward God" and I received timely help and encouragement by it. I’d like to thank him for his honesty and his sincere attitude to live up to his faith. Here I re-blog this post so that you may also receive grace.

How to Have Confidence Toward God 

     by Brother Joel Horst (Source: here)

Recently, God delivered me from the bondage of following feelings. For many years, I have had feelings: “Do this.” “Do that.” “Don’t do that.” I believed that it was God’s promptings in my heart. However, sometimes I would have feelings of “Do it” and “Don’t do it” at the same time, leaving me confused. Other times, I had feelings of defeat and doubt—feelings that I just didn’t measure up as I ought to and might never measure up.

Eventually, I started distrusting some feelings, but I still kept on following some of my feelings, until God finally broke through and showed me that they were not coming from Him. It is freeing to not have to worry about the conflicting feelings tumbling around inside, but just seek to hear the Shepherd’s voice and follow Him.

Our feelings can be very fickle and changing. Satan loves to make us feel bad about things that we shouldn’t, and guilty about obeying Jesus. God warns us not to trust our feelings, but rather obey Him and rest in the knowledge that we are obeying Him:

1 John 3:18-21  My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.  19  And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.  20  For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.  21  Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.

“Assure” (v. 19): “To convince (by argument, true or false); by analogy to pacify orconciliate (by other fair means); reflexively or passively to assent (to evidence or authority), to rely (by inward certainty): – agree, assure, believe, have confidence, be (wax) content, make friend, obey, persuade, trust, yield.” (Strong’s Greek Dictionary)

Sometimes, we have to actually convince our hearts of the truth, and convince our hearts that we are worthy to stand before God. Just because I have a feeling that I am doing something wrong (especially if I don’t know what I would be doing wrong) or that I am not worthy of the Lord does not mean that my feeling is correct. It could just be Satan trying to deceive me.

When we lack confidence toward God, we will be wimps and fail to accomplish God’s will in our lives. We will not feel worthy to ask God’s help to do what He wants us to do. But He has commanded us:

Hebrews 4:14-16  Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.  15  For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.  16  Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

The word “boldly” comes from the same Greek word as “confidence” in 1 John 3:21 (above). God, our Father, wants us to come to Him boldly, without hesitation, so that we can receive His mercy and grace to help us in our times of need.

These times of need are not just physical needs, such as finances or health, but spiritual needs, such as times of temptation. Significantly, it is in the time of greatest temptation that we will feel least worthy to approach the throne of grace. With the tempter’s temptations running through our minds, we may feel dirty and unworthy to ask God for help. That is when we must realize that our great High Priest, Jesus Christ, knows just how badly we need His mercy and grace and is ready to answer our cry to Him.

Remember, God does not give us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love and a sound mind:
2 Timothy 1:6-7  Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.  7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
 He also has not given us a spirit of bondage:
Romans 8:15  For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
He also is not the author of confusion:
1 Corinthians 14:33  For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
Take note: if your feelings lead you into bondage, they are not coming from God. If they make you feel jumbled and confused, they also are not coming from God. Of course, these statements must be taken in context of Scripture. Sometimes, on the surface, God’s way may seem like bondage, but it is not bondage. Following Jesus is never bondage.

God also has not given us a spirit of fearfulness about following Him. He wants us to step out as He leads and obey Him.

So, going back to the first passage, how do we know if we love in deed and truth so we can assure our hearts?
1 John 5:1-3  Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.  2  By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.  3  For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

Between these two passages from 1 John, we see that by obeying God’s commands, we can know how to love in deed and in truth. God’s commands include instructions about how to love one another, how to treat one another and how to have a great relationship with others. I am thankful that we don’t have to guess about whether or not we love others enough. We can know!

We also need to be careful about following “convictions” that have no direct command in Scripture. “Convictions” may actually be guilt trips that Satan or one of his agents have placed on us. I don’t mean that all convictions are false—God references personal convictions in Romans 14—but we must be sure that God has actually instructed us to have our convictions. I have had first-hand experience with this, coming from long years of bondage and guilt trips from commandments of men. It is why God has commanded us to ignore the commands of men.

Love God and keep His commands, and then you can have confidence toward God!


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Testimony of my spiritual transformation (Part 2)- how a decisive step to practice headcovering breaks my oriental syncretic mindset


"Truth" in Japanese

Spiritual transformation is a gradual process which every believer has passed through in his/her faith journey. I must say, however, that nothing caused me to go this way so fast but the practice of headcovering. It is like an accelerating voltage! There is such an obvious and on-going transformation in me that I cannot help but praising God for this great spiritual surgery.

In this post, I am going to tell you how God has been breaking my old man and creating in me a new spirit which is called a spirit of truth-seeking.

Japanese people like to have wa among themselves . The concept of wa is defined as follows;

Wa () is a Japanese cultural concept usually translated into English as "harmony". It implies a peaceful unity and conformity within a social group, in which members prefer the continuation of a harmonious community over their personal interests. Wa is considered integral to Japanese society, and derives from traditional Japanese family values. Individuals who break the idea of wa to further their own purposes are brought in line either overtly or covertly, by reprimands from a superior or by their family or colleagues tacit disapproval. (from Wikipedia)
 
And I also want to add that, the members prefer the continuation of wa over the truth. We tend to think it is better to be in harmony than to be split over the difference of opinion, even if it means we have to sacrifice the truth. If you look into the religious history of Japan, you will be surprised that even different gods can co-inhabit. It is called Shinbutsu-shūgō (神仏習合 lit. "syncretism of kami and buddhas").

 “When Buddhism was introduced through China in the late Asuka period (6th century), rather than discard the old belief system, the Japanese tried to reconcile it with the new, assuming both were true. As a consequence, Buddhist temples (, tera) were attached to local kami shrines (神社, jinja) and vice versa and devoted to both kami and Buddha.” (from Wikipedia)
The fox guardians at Fushimi Inari Shrine source

Wa might not be all together wrong, but in the light of the Gospel, I realized that there are some elements which are not compatible with the Bible truth. If Jesus had acted according to the spirit of wa, there never occurred any confrontations or conflicts with the Pharisees and Lawyers. And He could have avoided the death of the Cross.

Authentic truth has exclusiveness in its nature. If something is true, another thing is false. If Jesus is the truth (John 14:6), another figures are false. Oriental religions, on the other hand, are generally embracive. I did not have any problem in worshiping kami in my paternal grandparents’ house and buddhas in my mother’s side grandparents’. I also used to go to visit shaman who was worshiping the god of fire in my childhood.

shinto priest source

Encounter with sister Jessica

Through headcovering movement site, I started to interact with sister Jessica in Arizona. I was attracted to her immediately and I wondered why I felt this way. Then I realized that she has something which I don’t have or I am lacking, that is the spirit of truth-seeking. The practice of headcovering is, in  fact, my first visible and public demonstration of what I believe to be truth and this decisive action dramatically changed me from inside. No wonder I was drawn to a sister like Jessica.

She is very soft-spoken but as for Biblical truth, she is straightforward and clear in her sayings. I was amazed by her eagerness to investigate the truth in the Bible and asked her how she was doing her Bible study. Then she kindly shared with me about her personal Bible study methods with many pictures (you can see her methods here).

Her truth-seeking spirit has influenced me and challenged me deeply. I felt my thought-world has been transformed. I often said to Him, “Oh God, something is going on in me so rapidly after I put on headcovering. I cannot grasp it all but I want to trust You to deal with me according to Your design.”

Exposure to various truth-seeking people

With this renewed mind, I started to see the world and the people differently. God opened my eyes to recognize and locate various truth-seeking people who have already gone far ahead of me.

Last week, for example, I watched the video; A Response to Mary Mohler on Christian Headcovering (here) and I read the discussions in the comment section. “Wow!” I exclaimed. “They are all truth-seeking people! They lecture, make videos, leave comments and exchange opinions because they all love the Bible truth!” Though I don’t share Sister Mary Mohler’s (Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) position on head covering, I love her and respect her because she is also a keen truth-seeker of the Bible. 

And thus I started to see that people are gathering around the Truth and not vice versa. Humans are not central but the Truth of the Bible is. This is a new world to me. This is the world where God’s people reside and talk. And I love to be part of this God’s community, His universal church body.


Ladies, this is my testimony of spiritual transformation. It is on-going like a living stream! I am so grateful for this change and I want to follow the footsteps of those who have gone ahead of me. May the Spirit of Truth fill our soul and mind “till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Eph 4:13).” Amen.





Saturday, February 14, 2015

The life and faith of John. A. Hewitt (1907-Martyred 1942)―a Northern Ireland missionary to Japan


Ever since Francisco Xavier (1505-1552, Spain) landed in Japan as a first Christian missionary, countless young men and women have dedicated their lives for the salvation of Japanese souls. The other day, as I was conversing with my fellow sister Sanae about the great role and sacrifice which missionaries have paid for us, an idea came into mind; why don’t we publicly express our gratitude to all the missionaries who have served in Japan for the past 500 years? We want to honor each one of them and give thanks to their sacrificial love and service.

Today, as a token of our deep gratitude, I’d like to make a special post about the life of John Hewitt (1907-1942), a Northern Ireland missionary to Japan during WW II.

He has been virtually “unknown” figure in the Christian history but he must be very known by our Lord. We feel obliged to introduce the life and faith of such a devout man in order to honor him and make him known in the world.

Birth

John Alexander Hewitt was born at Armagh, Northern Ireland, 1907. His father, Joshua was a farmer and John was the 5th of seven children in Hewitt family. 

red part; Armagh in Northern Ireland  source

Ever since his grandfather believed Jesus Christ during the Northern Ireland Revival (1859), Hewitt family had been active members in the local congregation. After he finished junior high school, he started to help his father’s farming. When he was in mid-teens, a certain evangelist called Moneypenny used to visit his village and preached the Gospel with power. As a result, many villagers, including 15-year-old John, sincerely believed Jesus Christ as their Savior. Out of abundant joy, young John started to witness Christ to his friends and distributed Gospel tracts wherever he went.

Missionary call to Japan

Brother R.J. Wright, a Northern Ireland missionary had been serving in Japan since 1931. Influenced by him, John also started to pray for going to Japan as a missionary. His father, however, opposed him initially and told him, “If you stay at home, you would receive our inheritance, but if go, I will give it your brothers.”  John did not yield.

“And every one who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life (Matt 19:29).”

On the day of his departure, he confided to his old friend Johnston, telling him that “I sense I would never come back to Northern Ireland.” John also referred to his fiancee (Meta Stevenson) and told his friend as follows; “I am thinking of her but I don’t want to think about anything before things would be settled down in Japan.”

I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold; I’d rather be His than have riches untold; 
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands. I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand than to be the king of a vast domain Or be held in sin’s dread sway. 
I’d rather have Jesus than anything this world affords today.

Departure

In 1938, John Hewitt left his beloved land for Japan. He was 31 years old at that time. After the Manchurian Incident (1931), Japan had gradually taken on militant and totalitarian character. Emperor was worshiped as a living god and people were suffering from poverty. Anti-western propaganda was everywhere. Did he know about all of these? Of course, he did. Like Apostle Paul he knew “the chains and tribulations await me (Acts 20:23).” 

But his heart was fixed on one thing; that is to preach the Gospel to the unsaved and suffering souls in Japan. “None of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24).”

Service and evangelism

John joined R.J. Wright and started to help him for open evangelism and distribution of Gospel tracts while learning Japanese at Kanda YMCA in Tokyo.

John Hewitt; left side in the back row


Hewitt and Wright stood firm and encouraged Japanese believers to not worship Emperor even it means prison and torture. The congregations which they were serving have got split into two over the very issue, unfortunately. It reminds us of the incident of King Nebuchadnezzar and the worship of the gold image (Daniel 3:5,6).”  Meanwhile, John kept preaching the Gospel in Shinjuku area under extreme poverty. His dairy diet was just tea, some bread and a jam.

In 1941, Hewitt and Wright were detained and interrogated by the government inspectors. The content of the interrogation was as follows; about their teachings regarding the Ise Shinto shrine. Whether it was all right for Christians to worship at Shinto shrine. About the divinity of the Emperor and so forth.

By the outbreak of the war, Wright was interned at Yokohama. Fortunately, a year later he was repatriated in a prisoner exchange program. Wright suggested John to go home together but he declined, saying that he cannot go back to his safe country while his Japanese brothers and sisters are suffering in prison because of their faith. He said, “I cannot leave them. I will remain in Japan.”

Prison and death

We don’t know the exact date but John was arrested and was detained in Sugamo prison in Tokyo. And then he was transferred to Matsuzawa mental hospital (we don’t know why he was transferred to the mental hospital. Some say because he did not stop witnessing Christ in prison, while others say because he could not make himself understood well in Japanese). His whole body was tied and he was ill-treated. Thus he soon became critically ill.

There is a precious witness record by a sister who could visit him at that time. Sister Kiyono Hirazawa testified as follows;

“,,when we entered the hospital room, we saw Mr. Hewitt lying on the ground. We were surprised that his hair had turned white completely and was now skin and bones. The officer called him, John! John!  But there was no response. Unable to contain myself any longer, I shouted, Mr.Hewitt! Mr.Hewitt! Recognizing my voice, his face flushed with joy and he opened his eyes,,,and he kept saying, “it is a vision. It is a vision” and he was so glad to see us again. I could never forget that scene. His joyous countenance has sustained me all through the war period and my spiritual life. Thanks to him, I could remain faithful to the Lord during that difficult time. Also, we could confirm that he was not mentally ill.” (chapter 7, kita-airurand no akai yuri, p.66-67)

Thus on 7th April, 1942, John Hewitt was drawn to the Lord in the mental hospital in Tokyo. Sister Kiyono who could attend his funeral witnessed that there were many bruises on his face (Ibid.,p.70). Some say that in order to hide the trace of violence, his corpse was burned to ashes without the permission of his family.

his last letter to his fiancee, Meta

John used to tell his Japanese believers; “watashi wa nihon no tsuchi ni naruI will become the soil of Japan.) Thus his words became true.

“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain” (John 12:24).

He died alone in a foreign country as an obscure grain of wheat. It quietly fell into the ground without peoples’ notice. But we would not let his death lay in vain. We Japanese Christians publicly honor him and thank him for coming to Japan and served in the midst of us. We will take his banner and continue to run the race until our Lord returns.

Lastly I will write down the words which are written on his gravestone at Kilmore, Northern Ireland:

John Alexander Hewitt

Missionary, who died in Japan 7th April 1942
And his ashes are interred here

“FAITHFUL UNTO DEATH”



Monday, February 9, 2015

Testimony of my spiritual transformation ―pursuing intimacy with my father,,,and then with my Father!




Today is our prayer day. Over the weeks, your beings have become more and more important to me. As you know, we are all deeply connected. I have been influenced by you and I might have influenced you somehow. “Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually (I Cor 12:27).”

In one of my previous posts, I mentioned that the headcovering practice has brought me spiritual transformation. It is certainly a tremendous blessing, but not without some pain. Why? Because spiritual transformation is like a surgery. My good doctor (Jesus) must open my sick parts and pluck them out. So far, He has dealed with me about the issue of “authority”, “reverence”. And now He is dealing with the father-daughter relationships.

I don’t know about other countries, but in East Asian regions, we daughters often have a problem of relationship with our fathers. In many cases, East Asian fathers don’t express their love to their daughters in a way which we feel we are loved or accepted. Usually they don’t kiss nor hug us. They don’t say verbally how much they love us. And most of all, they are not at home! I think one of the main reasons why so many young Japanese (and East Asian) women suffer emotional disturbance in their 10s and 20s is the lack of intimacy with our fathers. My own father was working far from home and he was barely able to come home once a week.

When I started to cover my head, I realized how much I had desired to have intimate relationship with my father. I wanted to feel close to my father. Having non-Christian father, however, makes it more difficult to develop a kind of intimacy which I longed for. (I must say that my father is a wonderful person and I honor him so much. I deeply appreciate God for granting me such a great father.)

Praise God for his goodness. Some disappointments and sadness in me in my relationship with my earthly father caused me to seek something further. My soul started to seek something which is really intimate and secure. Like a deer pants for the water brooks, my soul pants for the One who satisfies my thirst. My soul pants for the One who is willing to respond to me and not running away from me. Yes, I started to seek my Father ardently and passionately.

Like a lost child crying for her father, my soul was calling my Father; Abba, Abba!  Where are you?  Without you, I feel so insecure. I am your little girl. Come to take me and hug me tightly with your strong arm. Am I a weird girl, Father? Am I too passionate that people cannot accept me? Abba, Abba! Do accept me and never leave me!

Thus, this ever-increasing intimacy with my Father has brought me a deep sense of security and stableness in my soul. It is an on-going process. It is a process of recovery.

 Now I am thinking of my dear sisters. Have you desired intimate relationship with your father and then you could not get it? Or you might have grown up without father. Maybe you don’t even know who your father is. Sisters, don’t be disheartened. Not a sparrow falls to the ground without our Father’s will. Let us go to seek our abba. Let us tell Him honestly how much we want to be loved and protected. We are all little girls who desperately need Father. We need Father.

Lastly, I will quote the verses from the book of Jeremiah, which I underlined last night.

"Then you will call upon Me, and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear and heed you. Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:12,13" 
(Psalm 23, Korean hymn, sung by Brother Park Jong ho 박종호)



Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The real problem behind the scene―uncovering the antinomianism behind the headcovering controversies



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In the comment section of my previous post, Sister Jessica made the intriguing observation as follows.
"You make a good point about headcovering in the USA being just as hard as in other nations. Here, even at church, there is a strong nonconformist attitude prevalent. But it looks like this: "Jesus made me free, so I don't have to fit in with any stuffy, old traditions. I'm free to do what I want, and don't you dare try to stick me in a mold!" So, we are all expected to conform with nonconformity, which in itself becomes a form of non-originality, and a prison! 
I think this attitude is rebellious and reflects a misunderstanding of the law versus grace issue. Being traditional is seen as being legalistic. How confused many in the church have become: for the headcovering doctrine is not a mere tradition of man but an ordinance from God!"
I thought what she mentioned above touches one of the most serious problems which modern Evangelical churches hold today. “Cheap grace” and “easy believism” are widely accepted and embraced while the costly grace was despised and labeled as legalistic or Pharisaism.

Concerning the danger of cheap grace, D.Bonhoeffer writes as follows;
“Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our Church. We are fighting today for costly grace. Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjacks’ wares. The sacraments, the forgiveness of sin, and the consolations of religion are thrown away at cut-rate prices.

Grace is represented as the Church’s inexhaustible treasury, from which she showers blessings with generous hands, without asking questions or fixing limits. Grace without price; grace without cost! The essence of grace, we suppose, is that the account has been paid in advance. And because it has been paid, everything can be had for nothing.”
(D.Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1937, p47, 48).
He further continues;
“Cheap grace means the justification of sin without the justification of the sinner. Grace alone does everything, they say, and so everything can remain as it was before…The world goes on in the same old way, and we are still sinners ‘even in the best life’ as Luther said.” (Ibid.,46) 
“Cheap grace therefore amounts to a denial of the living Word of God, in fact, a denial of the Incarnation of the Word of God.” (Ibid.,46)

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"The greatest heresy raging within the church is," F. Kuruvilla* says, "antinomianism."

Antinomianism comes from the Greek word anomos, which means to be without or against the law.This word and its cognates are used 25 times in the NT. He continues as follows;
"Antinomianism can be defined as selective or partial obedience. The antinomian typically finds certain commands unpalatable or too difficult; those commands are ignored or explained away. Despite the selective obedience, the antinomian still professes allegiance to Jesus. They are convinced they are Jesus' followers." (F.Kuruvilla, King Jesus Claims His Church, p.107).
Now he observes the relationship between legalism and antinomianism. Please listen to what he says;
"While perhaps counterintuitive, even though the Pharisees set up many man-made laws, they denied God's laws and were called antinomian (Matt.23:28). Legalism may be defined as either' believing that one earns salvation by good works; or adding humanly devised commands and doctrines in order to gain God's favor. Either posture is dangerous. Legalism is no defense against antinomianism; legalism paradoxically fosters it." 
I think the point above is very important. The fact is that the real legalists and  the antinomians are actually friends!

Kuruvilla further explains that, Jesus prophesies that antinomianism will strengthen in the last days.
"'Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness [antinomianism] will abound, the love of many will grow cold" (Matt.24:11-12). Remarkably, the final antichrist is literally called the man of antinomianism, usually translated as man of lawlessness (2 Thess.2:3).  
Antinomianism is the final great heresy of humanity, as it shakes its fist against Jesus' reign. Because antinomianism opposes Jesus' kingship, antinomianism opposes the gospel itself." (Ibid.p 108).
So, dear headcovering sisters, take your heart! Please don't be discouraged by the opposers. Your fight is great but your reward is even greater!

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*F.Kuruvilla. The son of missionaries to India, he graduated from Harvard Medical School where he served as a leader with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. He and his family fellowship with the church Followers of the Way in Boston, Massachusetts.

See also Is Headcovering legalistic? (by Jeremy Gardiner)

Sunday, February 1, 2015

My headcovering testimony (Part 2) –what made me decide to cover full-time


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Those of you who read my headcovering testimony (Part 1) know well that I am a shy Asian woman. So it required me so much courage and guts to start headcovering practice in the church. Just the love toward God’s Words and the power of the Holy Spirit made it possible to overcome my timidity and embark on the totally new adventure.

So you may wonder how it is possible, that this shy Asian woman even starts to cover full-time right now. What happened to her? What made her decide to take further steps? Well, I am going to tell you my story.

Desires and struggles

Somewhere around last spring, I found that something in me started to yearn for full-time covering. It was almost an irresistible desire which was hard to be ignored nor repressed.

“But I am not a nun! How could I ever walk around the streets and stores with my head veiled? After all, I am just an ordinary evangelical Christian. Oh, how I wish I was in the church environment, such as old order Mennonite church in the states or in Canada where all the sisters are covering full-time!”

An Asian full-time headcovering woman? Well, I have never heard nor seen such a woman in my life. Not a single one. True, many Indian Christian ladies are still covering their heads but their practices tend to be considered “cultural” by the world and so outsiders usually don’t think it strange.

But how about East Asian? The Christian population in Japan is less than 1 %. So if you become a Christian in Japan, you will be placed into an overwhelming minority group. Then if you decide to cover your head during the church service, this time, you will be even more alienated from the rest of the people. So,, imagine what will happen if you start to cover your head full-time in these environments? Will I be like a Martian?

From the kindergarten to high school, I had been trained to live uniformly. Same school uniforms, same school bags, same manner to answer the questions etc. We were not encouraged to develop our originality or individuality. In a word, this was our cultural norm.  

The Gospel of Jesus Christ, however, calls out each individual from the familiar, earthly cultural norm. Whether we like it or not, Jesus Christ with His authority, compels us to strip off our external, earthly ornaments and medals. He presses hard to the core of my timidity and the source of earthly attachments and calls me, “Leave them, and follow Me.”

In order to attach myself to Him and His word, I must learn how to detach myself from the earthly ties and norms. I must keep saying No! to my old world system with its values in order to abide in the True Vine (John 15).

First attempt

After several months of inner struggles, I finally decided to cover my head full-time. I put on a white triangle handkerchief and went outside. Everywhere I went, I was very self-conscious. I tried my best to be normal and natural in my behavior. The following morning, however, I had to go to embassy for paper works. In the government office, I could not help but feeling that I was a weird girl after all. The receptionist was kind but there was a hidden but obvious question mark on her face.

I came out of the office with blushed face and went to the bus stop. And then,,,I took the veil off instinctively. I could not continue it anymore. Thus, after only 1 day and a half, my first covering venture failed. The cultural tide was too strong for me to face by myself.

Second attempt

Although I went back to my non-full-time daily life, the inner desire to cover full-time never ceased. On the contrary, it has got increased and burned inside me day by day. I often said to myself, “Birds in the sky are free because they fly freely as they wish without worrying about what others think.”

“Supposed you are living in this town by yourself, what do you want to do?” I asked myself. “Well, of course, I would joyously go around everywhere with my veil.”  Then sadly, I look at my reality. I felt I was like a caged bird. I was not free. I was not doing what my conscience desires because of the fear of men.

Then I opened the letter pad and started to write to my elder sister D in Pennsylvania. I poured all of my heart, explaining how I failed on my first attempt and how I wish to do what my conscience desires. And I sincerely asked her to pray for me that He would grant me power and courage to practice it. I also humbly asked my husband to pray for me about this issue.

The power of Christ

Thanks to their prayers and warm support, I decided to start it again. This time, God granted me much more inner strength and determination to keep going. At the end of October, 2014, I joined 4-day Christian retreat. I had been deadly afraid of the reactions of the elders in the church there, but He gave me supernatural courage and boldness to keep going as a veiled woman. 


I testify to the world that it is not I who live and act as I do but Christ lives and works in me. I am a very very timid woman but the fire of Christ drives me to do something unbelievable. I testify to the world that Christ is our universal King and He is a living Son of God. He can use even a little, fragile vessel to manifest that His Words endure forever.

Thank you so much for reading my testimony. If the Lord willing, I’d like to share with you some of the major spiritual transformations which the headcovering practice has brought into my life in one of my future posts.