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Monday, March 30, 2015

Earnest prayer for my fellow sisters who are under trials or temptations

source

We are fellow pilgrims who are on the way to go to celestial city. And we are walking by faith and not by sight. But alas, we are constantly under trials and temptations! We are eager to live a victorious life in Christ but the enemy is trying his best to knock us down. 

It seems to me that the more we want to live a dedicated life, the more we are exposed to various trials and temptations. I have seen this in the lives of our dear sisters, too. Some of you are suffering from family problems while other devout sisters are under severe temptations. Some have felt spiritual heaviness and depression while others have suffered from loneliness.

Satan is the tempter, accuser and the deceiver (Matt 4:3, Rev 12:9, 10). He also knows exactly where our weak spots are located and thus, knows how to tempt/accuse/deceive each one of us tactfully.

My heart yearns for you. My sister, if you have burden or hidden sin, please do not hold it by yourself. I’ve always tried to expose them to those whom I trust in Christ. I’ve experienced that when sins or problems are exposed in light, Satan cannot keep holding them or misusing them.

Also, please do not isolate yourself, especially when you are hurt by difficult people. We are hurt by people but also healed through people who have His spirit and heart.

Often times, we feel we are not worthy to come to His throne but our compassionate High Priest gently but firmly calls you; Come! My dear.

"For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Heb 4:15, 16
source

Prayer

O Abba, Father, we are Your little daughters who need You day and night. Father, Father, we call Your name and ask your help. We have been hurt, tempted, accused. Without You, we are like abandoned children. Without You, we feel insecure. Rescue us from the hands of our enemy! Deliver us from the swamp of depression! We confess our sins in front of You and to each other. Give us courage to expose them in light. We thank You that the blood of Jesus Christ Your Son cleanses us from all sin.

I pray for each sister in name and declare Your victory over her in the name of Jesus Christ. I pray that You will show her the sign of victory even today. Fill her with Your fiery love. Fill her with Your blood-stained love of Calvary. Lord, bring us together closely ever more.

In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.  

(Hymns: It is well with my soul in Japanese)



Sunday, March 22, 2015

Can you choose a “not-highly educated” Christian brother and respect him as your husband?

Japanese cram school source

Japan is probably one of the top nations which has put so much emphasis on a person’s educational background. The names of our high school or university decides his/her worth and social position. As a pagan child, I had been brought up in such an environment. My father is a skilled surgeon and all of our family and relatives are university degree possessors.

Students hold a morale-boosting rally at Yoyogi Seminar's Kokura cram school in Kita-Kyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture, days before they were to take the National Center Test for university applicants in January 2013. (Asahi Shimbun file photo) source

So I used to dream like this; My future husband must be highly educated and,,,he must have a honorable title so that others may think we are prestigious people.

In other words, my value systems had been stained with worldly standard to the highest degree.

After believing Jesus Christ as my Savior, however, He started to challenge this kind of value system. How? Through communal life with other Christian sisters while I was serving in the church in Tokyo.

One of them used to work in a nightclub. Well, I had never talked nor interact with a woman in a bar up until then and I felt a bit awkward in this new living environment at first. However, as the time passed by, I could be able to see the life of Christ in this sister and we eventually became the most intimate friends at communal home and in the church. He gave me grace to see the people from totally different viewpoint. “Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh.” (II Cor 5:16)

I learned from the Lord that what really matters is whether the person in front of me has walked with Christ or not.  According to the biblical worldview, we are all “earthen vessels” (II Cor 4:7) after all. Some earthen vessels have a bit better shapes than the others but still it does not change the fact that they are earthen vessels. If we polish and boast the shape of our earthen vessels without having the very “treasure” (II Cor 4:7) in it, then what’s the use of all of our efforts?

"But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." (Gal 6:14)
"For it is written: I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?" (I Cor 1:19-20)

Reading many accounts of our church history also revealed to me that there has been many devout, wise saints among simple workers/farmers who have truly known the Lord to its depth. Well, I am not against higher education or professionals. I am just saying that the real saints can be found in every sphere of society and that the intellectualism / academic snobbism have no place in His church. 



Thus when my husband did marriage proposal, my new value system in Christ was tested; for he did not have college education nor title in the society. He, however, has noble and untainted character. And he was full of courage and faith in Jesus Christ. He has had deep experiences with the Lord.

I asked myself, “what things shall remain until the end? –isn’t it faith, hope and love? (I Cor 13:13) Our fleshly or worldly titles or names will one day disappear with our fleshly body. The only important thing on this earth is to live with Christ, and through our dedicated lives, His Name shall be glorified. “

I am so grateful that I could make a decision to walk the pilgrim journey with this precious brother in Christ. We have had some difficulties in the world but we have tasted far better spiritual blessings and the peace in our joint-lives.

Noble character does not depend on the educational background or social titles.

The true nobility can be found in the character of Christ and in the souls of the saints who have experienced the new birth in Christ (II Cor 5:17).


Thank you for reading, my sisters!  

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Kegan, a 16-year-old maiden for Christ―"Amy Carmichael" in the 21st century


Sister Kegan is, to me, "Amy Carmichael" in the 21st century. She is a 16-year-old American sister who has a burning passion for Christ. Last week, I asked her, "How do you want to spend your life on this earth? What are you seeking in your life?" And she told me as follows;

The way I see it (and the way I believe the Bible teaches it) is that a life not lived for Christ is a wasted life. Paul said in Philippians 1:21, "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." (KJV) The only thing that matters in life is Christ and living like He lived. Reaching souls is our primary goal. If we're not doing that, then we've wasted the one, precious life we've been given by God. And, from what Jesus taught in His parables, God doesn't think too kindly of lazy labourers.  
Our job is to do what Christ did: live for people and perhaps die for people. We are called to take up our cross and follow Him (Matthew 16:24). Our identity should not be found in the clothes we wear, the job we work, the color of our skin, etc. We're christians first. Who we are should be found in Christ. The first thing that people should think of when they think of us is "Jesus". His light should be shining through us. We're His ambassadors. 
My vision for my life is to be a missionary. I don't know where or how or when yet. But God knows. I am seeking only to do His will.,,, wherever I am, whatever I'm doing, I will be a missionary. That's what we're all called to be.,,What do I seek? I seek a life that is pleasing to the Lord. If I can hear Him say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant," I will be satisfied. To know Him is precious and I don't want any to leave this world without that relationship and faith!
Actually, the above testimony of hers has touched the hearts of many Japanese believers already! One lady told me she read it out in front of her family. Another lady in Osaka is going to talk about Kegan and her testimony in Sunday school. Her pure faith spoke directly to their hearts and stirred up their spirits.

Her passion for souls reminds me of the prayer of Amy Carmichael (1867-1951), a missionary to Japan and India.

O for a passionate passion for souls,
O for a pity that yearns!
O for the love that loves unto death,
O for the fire that burns!
O for the pure prayer-power that prevails,
That pours itself out for the lost!
Victorious prayer in the Conqueror's Name,
O for a PENTECOST!
 
         -Amy Wilson Carmichael


Now, I am going to re-blog her recent post entitled; "Doing more". If you were like me, you would be surprised and impressed that this post was written by a 16-year-old maiden. And I am sure that her message would speak directly to your heart. 

                                                Doing More

Having confidence in thy obedience I wrote unto thee, knowing that thou wilt also do more than I say. (Philemon 1:21, KJV)

Today, I read through Paul’s letter to Philemon. It is only one chapter long, so if you are not familiar with it, perhaps you might could read it now. I was trying to really meditate on the things Paul said to Philemon. Many of the concepts can easily be applied to our own lives. Near the very end of the book is Philemon 1:21 (as listed above). 

Paul has been giving some instruction to Philemon about his newly-converted runaway servant named Onesimus. As Paul comes to the end of his letter, he says that he has confidence that Philemon will do more than Paul told him to do. I started thinking about that…

The people that have made the most impact in my life have been those that went above and beyond what was expected of them. Those people have served as my role models and mentors. Mind you, there have only been a few. Sure, many people do nice, unexpected deeds for me, which are greeted with a grateful heart. 

But few have done MORE than expected, more than requested. Few have gone above and beyond, tirelessly trying to do all they could to please and serve me. Now, I am certainly not worthy of this! So, what makes them pursue it? 

My conclusion: love. Their love and passion for Christ overflows into a love and passion for me. Their seeking to please the Lord fully overflows into their seeking to please me fully. Their mindset of servitude to God overflows into a mindset of servitude to me. Notice what Paul says to Philemon in the beginning of the letter:

I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers, Hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints; That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus. For we have great joy and consolation in thy love, because the bowels of the saints are refreshed by thee, brother. (Philemon 1:4-7, KJV)

Philemon loved the Lord. So, he loved people. Because of all this love, he sought to serve others to the best of his ability.

However, I think far too often we are looking more at the bare minimum we can do. We ask, “What can I get away with?” instead of “What’s the best I can do?” Most are content with their salvation and do not care to do much more than just what they can get away with and be saved. Let us not be like this. I confess that I often find myself thinking, “What can I do and it be enough to please God?” 

I often only do what is necessary when serving others, and even then it hurts. Woe to a selfish, lazy Church! Let us not be this way any longer! I know some who have already begun to change, and are changing those around them because of it. Let us all respond to our Lord’s call to do more!
“I know you will do more than I say.” 

Imagine Paul saying that to you. No, imagine Christ saying that to you. Imagine Christ sending something your way and saying, “I know her obedience, that she will do MORE than what is required of her.” All with a smile on His face. I would certainly want my Lord and Master to say that of me. But, to receive such an honour, we must labour. 

We must tirelessly, without hope of recognition here, bend and serve and bow, doing much more than is required of us, even when it hurts.

But I think I could bear it knowing how my Lord bent and served and bowed, doing far more than what was expexted of Him, and also knowing that I would be pleasing Him with doing the same. And let’s not forget the reward we will receive in heaven for such.

Now, let us bond together. Let us love unconditionally. Let us serve one another. Let us be a pleasing, obedient bride for Christ. Let’s do MORE than what is expected of us. :)

That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus. (Philemon 1:6, KJV)

Let us all visit her brand-new blog and say hello to her! She is a headcovering sister as well.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

A word of gratitude and encouragement for my fellow Indian head-covering sisters


As an Asian head-covering sister (1 Cor 11), I have longed to have fellowship with other Asian sisters as well. But where can I find them? And how?

So Sanae (my fellow covering sister in Japan)  and other sisters including me have been praying over this issue, asking the Lord to open the gate to find such sisters.

And then the Lord actually heard our prayers today! We could find sisters in Bangalore, India who are keeping the head-covering practice in their church.

Bangalore, India source

When I read the kind response from Brother Zac Poonen, a leader of Christian Fellowship Church, Bangalore (here), the tears rolled down and I could not stop praising God for His wonderful arrangement.

For I have read from several sources that though Indian churches have faithfully preserved the head-covering command for nearly 2000 years (1 Cor 11), some sisters started to abandon this practice due to the influence of feminism and the westernized churches.

So I wanted to encourage our Indian sisters all the more. I wanted to testify to them that the practice which they have kept until today is not cultural thing but it is an universal, trans-cultural and unchanging command of God. I wanted to tell them to stay firm in their convictions and not to be shaken by secular and evangelical feminism and its influence.

Now let me share with you why I feel a special attachment to Indian Christians. Before conversion, I was studying in the Philippians for a short period (1998). There I met one Indian Christian from Tamilnadu and I was deeply touched by her noble and beautiful character. Her life reflected something radiant and holy, which I had never seen in my life. Thus I was drawn to her and to the One whom she worshiped,Jesus Christ.

After conversion which occurred several years later, I called her and announced her that I became a Christian. Then she told me the following words; “I am so happy, Kinuko! Congratulations! Actually, when we were in the Philippians, some Christian students had been gathering in one dorm room and interceding for your salvation every morning.” Upon hearing this, I lost my words.

She and her family have shown amazing love to me and I owe to them so much. I miss her sweet milk-tea which she used to make for me every morning when I was in her house in India. I miss the beautiful sound of Tamil language as well.

If I would be able to encourage my fellow Indian sisters on the head-covering issue, I’d like to honor Him and also honor my Indian sister’s family who has played a great role on my salvation.


Lastly, I’d like to introduce you the wonderful articles on head-covering written by Brother Zac Poonen and his son (an elder in the US church). I’ll also attach Sister Annie’s message (True Freedom Through Submission) for Christian ladies.

Head covering article by Brother Zac Poonen here
Head covering article by Brother Sandeep Poonen here

*Brother Sandeep Poonen leads a new church in America where all the sisters veil their heads. When he first preached this message, half of the sisters left his church along with their husbands. But he was not discouraged. So God honored him (after having tested him in this way) by giving him a very blessed church today. His church website is here

(Sister Annie in Bangalore is delivering the message on the glory of submission for her fellow Indian sisters: English language with Tamil translation.)

ಒಬ್ಬನೇ ಸತ್ಯದೇವರಾಗಿರುವ ನಿನ್ನನ್ನೂ ನೀನು ಕಳುಹಿಸಿಕೊಟ್ಟ ಯೇಸು ಕ್ರಿಸ್ತನನ್ನೂ ಅವರು ಅರಿತು ಕೊಳ್ಳುವದೇ ನಿತ್ಯಜೀವ. (Kannada language, India, John 17:3)

Monday, March 9, 2015

Do you feel insecure about people’s opinions about what you write, sisters? : Keep writing and freely expressing yourself!



I love reading your writings and comments. Reading and following your posts make me feel that I am walking side by side on your faith journey. As a Christian biographer, I have read many life stories of the saints. 

And you know what, each time I write about one’s life, I was amazed by the absolute uniqueness of each life. The effort to “categorize” them always fails because each soul is so unique and matchless. And they tell me something about the mystery of creation. Have you ever thought about the revolutionary transformation which has occurred in your most depths when you received the Holy Spirit?

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (I Cor 6:19 a)?

Can you imagine that even the majestic temple of Solomon loses its color in front of the divine temple of the Holy Spirit which IS IN YOU? Do you know that you were already dead and your life is hidden with Christ in God (Col 3:3)? Sisters, that’s why I am so passionate about reading your stories and testimonies. I love to listen what this new creation (II Cor 5: 17) has to say to the world. I love to incline my ears to your joys and sadness, struggles and victories.

Some weeks ago, my fellow sister Tessa, whom I cherish her honesty,shared her delicate heart on her blog;

“Telling people I want them to comment on my blog requires me to trust God. I realized that I am very insecure about people's opinions about what I put out there. I have to surrender that insecurity and know that God is with me as I do this. I grow closer to Him that way.I want nothing more than to get as close to God as possible. I cannot get enough. This blog is one way of doing that. Even if no one reads this ever again, I will keep writing. I grow closer to Him this way.”

I want to encourage Tessa and all of my friends; My dear friend, KEEP WRITING! Keep expressing yourself and telling us your story. I love to hear that. I love to hear what you are thinking. We are not perfect, we make mistakes but the divine life of the Spiritwhich is in youis flowing from you and working without ceasing. It is so fresh and new every morning.

You know, the real biographer is our Lord and He is writing about your story daily. So don’t let the evil one discourage you, saying that your writings and sayings are of little value. No, it is worthy, definitely worthy. Your writings also help me to keep my eyes on Jesus on the daily basis. In a word, I need you and I love to converse and interact with you in Christ.

Lastly, I am going to quote an excerpt from Charles Spurgeon’s devotional book, Morning and Evening. In this section, he encourages us to “converse together concerning the ways of the Lord.”

"Let us not sleep, as do others." 1 Thessalonians 5:6

There are many ways of promoting Christian wakefulness. Among the rest, let me strongly advise Christians to converse together concerning the ways of the Lord. 

Christian and Hopeful, as they journeyed towards the Celestial City, said to themselves, "To prevent drowsiness in this place, let us fall into good discourse." Christian enquired, "Brother, where shall we begin?" And Hopeful answered, "Where God began with us." Then Christian sang this song--

"When saints do sleepy grow, let them come hither,
And hear how these two pilgrims talk together;
Yea, let them learn of them, in any wise,
Thus to keep open their drowsy slumb'ring eyes.
Saints' fellowship, if it be managed well,
Keeps them awake, and that in spite of hell."

Christians who isolate themselves and walk alone, are very liable to grow drowsy. Hold Christian company, and you will be kept wakeful by it, and refreshed and encouraged to make quicker progress in the road to heaven. But as you thus take "sweet counsel" with others in the ways of God, take care that the theme of your converse is the Lord Jesus. Let the eye of faith be constantly looking unto him; let your heart be full of him; let your lips speak of his worth.

Celestial City   source

 Friend, live near to the cross, and thou wilt not sleep. Labour to impress thyself with a deep sense of the value of the place to which thou art going. If thou rememberest that thou art going to heaven, thou wilt not sleep on the road. If thou thinkest that hell is behind thee, and the devil pursuing thee, thou wilt not loiter. Would the manslayer sleep with the avenger of blood behind him, and the city of refuge before him? 

Christian, wilt thou sleep whilst the pearly gates are open--the songs of angels waiting for thee to join them--a crown of gold ready for thy brow? Ah! no; in holy fellowship continue to watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation.

AMEN!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Testimony of Christian modesty: What made me decide to stop using cosmetics


 Je dédie ce témoignage de ma sœur bien-aimée Caroline et sa mère

Today, I'd like to share with you how God has guided me to stop using cosmetics.And especially,I want to dedicate this article to my little French sister Caroline, who is "striving to enter the narrow gate (Luke 13:24)" regarding cosmetics and modesty.I also deeply appreciate my Japanese sister Sanae who knows French and kindly explain to me about the contents of Caroline’s French blog.

Cosmetics had been my necessities for many years. It was necessary partly because I did not have confidence in my appearance and partly because I thought it was a social norm which we should follow.



One day, as I was trying to curl my eyelashes in front of the mirror, a question came into my mind;

“Why am I trying to curl my eyelashes upward with difficulties? You see, my Asian eyelashes want to go downward and you are forcing them to go upward. I was not born like a French doll which has long curly eyelashes. I was born as Japanese. So how come you are trying to show yourself something different than your actual self?”

And I said to myself; Our Creator created me like this with His wisdom. He created my straight-short-downward eyelashes and thought “it was good.” Is it one part of our reverence and worship toward God when we simply accept how we were created and preserve them as they are without affectation?

So I decided to not tamper with my eyelashes anymore and let them be as they are. After a while, I thought about face powder and rouge on my cheek.

“Our Creator who is definitely the best artist decided my skin color like this. It is not snow-white like that of Western ladies. But this yellow color must be the best fit for me. Also, isn’t it more awesome and natural if my cheek blushes out of natural bashfulness than because of artificial rouge?”

Thus I said good-bye to my cosmetics one by one.

Against internal and external falsity and pretense

Pretense, falsity and hypocrisy can exist not only on our exterior but also in our hearts. So, even if we don’t makeup, God still displeases when our hearts are full of pretense and hypocrisies.

However, it is also true that our external changes influence our inner beings. (ex. You can read Tessa’s testimony on long hair and short hair here). After stopping cosmetics, I felt I could behave more naturally toward myself and toward others. I noticed that others also found it easier to approach me than before.

Of course, our spirituality does not necessarily depend on our using/not using cosmetics. But it certainly affects our inner and outer person to some degree. For me, abstinence from cosmetics has brought more freedom and consistency. It’s like I am facing God, people and myself without any artificial mask.

wild birds : source

We find deep rest in nature because there is no artificiality in it. Trees and birds are worshiping God as they are created. I also want to worship our Creator by simply accepting everything about my attributes as they are.



Make me like Thy clear air

Through which, unhindered,
colors pass

As though it were not there.

Powers of the love of God,
 Depths of the heart Divine,

O Love that faileth not,
break forth

And flood this world
of Thine.


-Amy Carmichael


Thank you for reading my testimony.

Words of Early Christians regarding cosmetics and modesty.
"Do not paint your face, which is God's workmanship. For there is no part of you that lacks beauty. For God has made all things very good. But the wanton extra adorning of what is already good is an affront to the Creator's work."  ---Apostolic Constitutions (compiled A.D.390), Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol 7, p 395. 
"Nor are the women to smear their faces with the ensnaring devices of wily cunning. But let us show to them the decoration of sobriety."  ---Clement of Alexandria (A.D.195), ANF, Vol 2, p286. 
"Both sexes alike should be admonished that the work of God and His fashioning and formation should in no manner be adulterated-either with the application of yellow color, black dust, rouge, or with any kind of cosmetic....God says, 'Let us make man in our image and likeness.' Does anyone dare to alter and change what God has made?"  ---Cyprian (A.D.250), ANF, Vol 5, p 434. 
"O good matrons, flee from the adornment of vanity...Overcome the evil one, O modest women of Christ!"  ----Commodianus (A.D. 240), ANF, Vol 4, p 214.
       "How unworthy the Christian name, to wear a fictitious face!"
       ---Tertullian,On the Apparel of Women, bk.2, ch.5

What the Early Christians Believed About Modest Dress & Cosmetics




Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Ladies, I need your wisdom: where is the borderline between “teaching the Bible” and “sharing the Gospel” with non-Christian husbands?


family worship : source

One of the dear readers on my Japanese blog recently asked me the following question;

I am conducting a family worship (including Bible message) at home. My children and I are believers but my husband is not. Thankfully, though, he is joining the family worship anyway. Now, I started to realize that woman should not teach nor to have authority over a man (I Tim 2:12). Well, then, what shall I do? I find it difficult to find the borderline between “teaching the Bible” and “sharing the Gospel” with my husband.

Umm...ladies, I haven’t thought about this kind of situation before, and honestly I don’t know how to answer to her question right now. Have you dealt with similar situations in your life? Or do you know anybody who has a similar background like her? I do need your wisdom and input. Please feel free to share your thoughts with me. Thank you so much.