God might have done all this more simply, but He didn’t, yet we are “without excuse”.
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Psalm 8:3-4
Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them. Psalm 111:2
For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. Romans 1:19-20
I like to open our newsletters with something from the Word and consider how it might apply to our lives. I am not wanting to give a complete Bible study, but to offer some “food for thought” that might bless you, who read our newsletters, with some little blessing. On many an occasion, some have written back and thanked us for these little “moments with God”. And that, dear friends, is the intention, to hopefully offer one of those moments. This one is a bit longer than usual, but I think the time and space are well worth considering.
I have been looking at the idea of “why did God put us in all this wonder and complexity” of His creation? This is by no means a new question or thought, but it has come up a lot here lately in ministry and teachings.
Some view His creation simply as “Art”, and His creation is there to simply honor Him and bring Him glory. “I’m happy just to look at the beauty and love this God-poetry He made for me”. There’s nothing wrong with doing that and the idea that God is above, and the creator of all that we experience is indeed, a unique glory that brings God due wonder and praise.
Man, being a small reflection of God, enjoys creating and enjoying all kinds of wonderful art forms. Art moves our hearts in ways not every living creature can appreciate, yet His “song of creation” and His “Poem of deep emotions” are everywhere to be considered. Honestly, as a musician, writer and artist, I totally get that view.
I am also one who has always marveled at man’s effort to understand God’s creation. I have always, like so many others, looked deeply into the disciplines of physical sciences for example. I loved to discuss these concepts with my instructors and peers. We so often get it only partially right, or even totally wrong, as we strive to understand. Even if we get so much “wrong” in our understanding, the Bible is clear we only “know in part”, yet we are to continue to look “to the author and finisher of our Faith”.
So, who has it right in all this? Surely not the pantheist, for God warns not to worship the creation. When I look at the sunset, I wonder at its beauty, the awe, the poetry and the workmanship of God’s mighty hand. At the same time, I equally wonder at the miracle of the air that light shines through, and how marvelous it is that I can breathe it to stay alive. I can’t help but take God’s Love for me personally.
God could have just stuck me in some cosmic petri dish without any ability to have awareness of the agar that sustains me. Instead, He created me with the senses and awareness to explore this wonder in which I find myself and, in doing so, learn more about who put me here in it in order that I might know Him all the more.
If I don’t take time to do both; read “His Love letter to me” and “basic instructions before leaving Earth”, as well as explore this creation He made for me, I might well miss out on something hidden between the pages He left there for me to discover.
I believe the man of God can do both while remaining Faithful to his creator, and He fully expects us to do so, or He wouldn’t have gone to all this effort that I might know Him all the more. If we don’t look at the “whole picture”, are we without excuse?
Events: We continue to be completely busy in ministry here. Each newsletter we try to highlight some things that are happening concerning the ministry here in Japan. This past few weeks has been full of ministry – even with what we call “Spring Break”. We seem to just as busy during this supposed “time off”.
English class TCN
In our last newsletter, we shared an image of John and his English class in Hamura, a city just up the tracks from us about 10mins away. He has been teaching this class for about 4 years now. It’s important to realize that these classes, while providing a bit of income for living here, also play a key role in interfacing with the community and learning more about the culture of Japan. This can only happen with the continued process of interacting with the Japanese people – especially outside the “church walls”. When we teach these classes, we also invite students to our church events and some of them do come. We feel a very real friendship with our students.
TCN, a local TV station visited the class and filmed a little documentary on the class there in Hamura. One of the students gave us a DVD with a recording of the program. Here is a link to the clip from the show where the Hamura English class was shared.
Easter week affords the opportunity to again reach out to our community. Throughout the week we have special services focusing on Easter. This year the Pastor was away on a trip for other ministry work, so he asked John to do the Thursday evening “Communion and Foot Washing” service. Usually we take lots of pictures during that service, but the “camera man” was busy teaching! It was an intimate service, but this tradition is one of the truly meaningful focal points in the Easter Story. John shared a comparison of traditions and prophetic aspects of the Jewish Passover with their fulfillment in what we Christians traditionally call “The Last Supper”.
Teaching “Servant or Family”
The pastor has been doing a lot of trips lately. He asked John to teach a few Sundays back. As part of the ministry here at GCF, we put all the messages online so others who were not able to attend can listen to the teaching. A link is provided if you are interested in listening to the message from the parable in Mat 21:33-44. Link:
As you know, a large part of serving here at GCF for John involves all things Web and other “IT” roles. It’s important to keep the Church, the school and other projects up and running. It’s a blessing to be able to use skills from past employment to support ministry here.
Teaching English: “Sakura”
From Belinda: I also had the rare opportunity to share the gospel outright with my English class, where discussion of religion and politics is generally not allowed. At the beginning of each lesson I have a written dialogue which I read aloud and my students repeat, and then read it out loud with a partner. The week before Easter Sunday I used a dialogue focused on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The very detailed and scriptural dialogue was repeated over and over in the classroom by every student (all over the age of 65). What a joy it was to hear the name of Jesus being spoken aloud in a room full of Japanese Buddhists. God is good!
After our lesson on the true meaning of Easter, the whole English class went on an excursion of cherry blossom viewing, or ‘Hanami’. Hanami is a very important and enjoyable tradition, in which families and companies alike gather together in groups throughout Japan to walk and picnic under the fully bloomed cherry blossoms. But despite the abundance of beautiful blossoms, these trees produce no fruit! Pray for true fruit amongst the Japanese for whom we labor.
- For opportunities to creatively share the gospel with our English Students
- For Belinda’s Japanese teacher receiving a new testament Bible for “Studying English”
- For God’s continued provision and guidance
- For healing us from our colds
- For continued opportunities to share the gospel, especially with our English students
- For continued language acquisition
- For Eduardo’s marriage and his consistency in meeting with John for discipleship
- For several of our church members who are suffering from deep depression
- For our own spiritual health
- For our son, Stephen, to reject his life in the world and to return to Christ
You are part of our ministry in Japan! Please, if you have comments, encouragement or you would like to share a prayer request with us, please take the time to write. If you know someone who would like to get our eNews, they can sign up at mcbade.com anytime. We LOVE to hear back from you!