Thursday, February 27, 2020

Six-Sentence Story: Slices of Lemon


The prompt for this week’s Six-Sentence Stories is “slice. ” Muttering “Slice, slice, slice…,” I casually typed the word in the search box, in the hope of finding photos that might inspire me. 

There appeared dozens of mouth-watering pictures: slices of lemons, slices of pizza, slices of kiwifruit, slices of oranges, slices of bread, slices of lime, and so on. I picked one that appealed to me the most. 




Looking at the photo, I tried to make up a story in six sentences, feeling the sour taste in my mouth that the image evoked.

Nearly half an hour has passed, but I haven’t come up with any stories yet.




this week's prompt: slice

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Happy Birthday, M*****!





Happy Birthday, M*****!


Years have passed since I saw you last.
You have gone back to your hometown.

I have lost touch with you.

A lot of things have happened since then.

If you were to see me now, you might not recognize me.


I remember, however, that today is your birthday.
I remember your favorite black and gray sweat shirt.
I remember your smiles.
I remember your kindness.
I remember how much you meant to me.




Whether you remember me or not,
let me say "Happy Birthday" to you today.






Saturday, February 22, 2020

Philip Yancey & "Fearfully & Wonderfully"

This week, I've been listening to the series Fearfully and Wonderfully, an interview with Philip Yancey at https://discovertheword.org/. In addition to listening to the audio files there, we can watch a video at YouTube. The video, which covers the two-week series, lasts more than 2 hours. In fact, I've watched only the first half so far, and I'm looking forward to watching the rest next week.










bonus

the link to the TED talks video by Alexander Tsiaras which Philip mentions in Day 5



Friday, February 21, 2020

Havilah


I am deeply inspired and blessed by today's article in Our Daily Bread, A Place of Belonging.

In the first paragraph, the author, Anne Cetas mentions a Hebrew word (havilah) meaning "writhing in pain" and " to bring forth." She says, "It signifies the making of something beautiful through pain."

The word sounds familiar. I've seen it in Genesis 2. It's also a name of a region in Eden, where there is gold. (Genesis 2:11)
I studied a little about this word here, and found that the word also means 'circular.'

חֲוִילָה


"Havilah" -- What a beautiful word!


The following is my brief answers to the question in the devotional:

In what ways has Jesus changed your life? 
Since God is always with me, I am not alone. He will never forsake me, so I need not fear. I can depend on Him. I choose to depend on Him.
What does it mean for you to belong to Jesus?
Jesus loves me, and I love Jesus. My identity is a child of God, and my home is His kingdom. I am on my way home, following Jesus, with His family. 



Today's Scripture: (Ephesians 3:14-21)





For this reason I kneel before the Father, 
from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 
I pray that out of his glorious riches 
he may strengthen you with power 
through his Spirit in your inner being, 
so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. 
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 
may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, 
to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 
and to know this love that surpasses knowledge
—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God 
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, 
according to his power that is at work within us,
to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, 
for ever and ever! 
Amen.




Thursday, February 20, 2020

Six Sentence Story: A Personal Opinion

From the beginning, I have been against the idea that the Olympic Games are to be held in Tokyo in 2020. When I first heard the news, I couldn’t believe it. Before the IOC selected Tokyo, the Prime Minister of Japan had claimed that they didn’t have to worry about the nuclear power plant ruined by the earthquakes and the tsunami in March, 2011, saying, “Let me assure you that the situation is under control,” but I am not assured.

While there are still millions of people suffering, having affected by the earthquakes and other devastating natural disasters in our country, we shouldn’t waste our money on the Olympics. In addition, the new type of infectious disease originating from Asia continues to claim our attention. Would it be insane to say that they should cancel the upcoming Olympic Games to help prevent the spread of the virus?






prompt: claim 

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

21 Titles and Descriptions

I'm studying John | Journey Through Series | Day 3. The author of the devotional, David Cook, says:

Note also the titles and descriptions of Jesus here in John 1. Bible teacher J. C. Ryle finds twenty-one descriptions of Jesus in this chapter, such as rabbi, Son of God, King of Israel, Messiah, but now the most exalted title of all is: Son of Man (v. 51)... He is fully God and fully man.

So, I read John 1 again to find the twenty-one descriptions of Jesus.

  1. the Word
  2. God
  3. the light
  4. the true light that gives light to every man
  5. the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth
  6. God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side
  7. Christ
  8. the Lord
  9. the one [the Pharisees] do not know
  10. the one who comes after [John the Baptist]
  11. [the one] the thongs of whose sandals [John the Baptist] is not worthy to untie
  12. the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world
  13. the one [John the Baptist] meant when he said, 'A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.'
  14. the Son of God
  15. Rabbi (which means Teacher)
  16. the Messiah (that is, the Christ)
  17. The one Moses wrote about in the Law and about whom the prophets also wrote
  18. Jesus of Nazareth
  19. the son of Joseph
  20. the king of Israel
  21. the Son of Man

The list may not be the same as the one mentioned by J. C. Ryle. I'm wondering if #3 and #4 above should be counted as one. I am not sure if it is all right to list #10 and #11 separately, either.
-- Anyway, this is a glorious list.






Monday, February 17, 2020

I've Found a Treasure Box!



the 'Journey Through' series of bible study guides
This devotional series from Our Daily Bread Ministries helps you spend time with God in His Word, book by book. The daily insights will help you discover the precious, life transforming wisdom of the Bible, inspiring you towards a closer walk with God.


I'm starting with John.





Friday, February 14, 2020

A Heart-Warming Book

The other day, I went to the handicraft shop in the morning, thinking it would open at 9:30, only to find it was still closed. The signboard said it would open at 10:00 AM. So, I went to the city library to spend time.

At the entrance of the library, I found a number of books on cats displayed. One of them caught my eye.




The book, Heart-no-Shippo, or The Tail of Heart. is a collection of photographs by Iwagou Mitsuaki.--I like watching his TV programs featuring cats in various parts of the world.-- The book has not only the photos of cute, adorable cats, but also those revealing their instincts and fierce vitality.

I am not particulary fond of cats, but I enjoyed learning more about them in this heart-warming book.





Thursday, February 13, 2020

Six-Sentence Story: In Memory of William

As soon as I heard the news that William had passed away, I was reminded of the gentle face of the retired missionary from Canada, whom I had met only once in my life-- about ten years ago, when he visited the church where he used to work.

On that Sunday in October, 2010, William sat next to me during the worship service, and at the lunch that followed, I talked with him in English. He listened to me carefully, smiling. I remember telling him that the sermon about forgiving one another, was exactly what I needed to listen to on that day. I also remember his asking me questions about the high school where I worked at that time.

I am thankful for William, who had come all the way to Japan and lived here for decades, planting the seed of the Good News.








 
this week's prompt: plant

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Completely Forgiven

Reading The Miracle of White Snow in Our Daily Bread makes me ponder on the significance of forgiveness. What does it mean to be completely forgiven?

I am completely forgiven, instead of partially forgiven.

God promises me never to remember my sins when I repent.
He regards me as blameless for the sake of the sacrifice Christ has made.

I don't have to wallow in the guilt and shame.
I don't have to be afraid that I will be punished.
I can allow myself to feel loved by God.
Set free from guilt, filled with peace, gratitude and joy, I can move on, trusting in His love.
I can learn to forgive others and love them through the power of God.

When I think of the meaning of being completely forgiven by God, I have to face the reality of my sinfulness. At the same time, I feel overwhelmed by the love of Jesus, who was 'punished' in my place so that I would be forgiven. I'm beginning to understand only a fraction of the significance of His forgiveness.





Tuesday, February 11, 2020

An Unexpected Find

I was glad when I found Lemmens' École d'orgue in IMSLP about two years ago. Immediately I started practicing playing the beautiful études on the electronic keyboard. The free sheet music, however, had no instruction on the best fingering, so I was not sure which fingers to use to play difficult parts smoothly. -- I had been looking for the book on the Internet, but found that it was already out of print.

In 2018, our church had a new building constructed. While packing everything before moving out of the old building, I discovered some music books at the bottom of the shelf. One of them was École d'orgue by Lemmens, in which the appropriate fingering was specified!  I asked the lady in charge if I might borrow the book, and she said yes. I didn't know that the book I had been looking for was in our church.

I'm thankful to have found the book. -- Well, I haven't returned it to the church yet. I still practice the pieces in it at home from time to time. The book has helped me improve my fingering greatly.






Monday, February 10, 2020

A Chain Reaction


During the sermon on peacemakers yesterday, the pastor quoted a verse in Romans as a secret to peacemaking. I don't take notes during sermons, so I wasn't sure exactly where in Romans the verse was found, and I didn't include it in the summary I posted yesterday.



"Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves."


This morning, reading Our Daily Bread and the Bible as usual, I found the same verse again in Romans 12:10. Savoring its meaning, I've memorize it.

The focus of today's article in Our Daily Bread, In It Gogether is, however, sharing the pain with each other in communities, and the key verse is Romans 12:15:

"Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. "

At the end, the writer asks us the following questions:

"When have you allowed someone else to share your sorrow? How does the body of Christ—the church—help you deal with the hard times in life?"

The first question makes me realize that it is not easy for me to allow anyone else to share my sorrow. In a difficult situation, I tend to tell myself not to expect anything from other people, thinking depending on others would lead to further disappointments... I would rather rely on God alone. And then, I sometimes I find that God is helping me through people around me.

As for the second question, the most important thing the church can do to help those going through hard times is to pray with them, pray for them, listening to them without judging, empathizing with them, and just being with them.

The devotional article also suggests further reading:Compassion. I have downloaded it, and I'm going to read it today.



clipart.library









Saturday, February 8, 2020

Bonanza

Looking for new tunes that I would play at the offering during the Sunday worship service, I've found something wonderful at IMSLP (International Music Score Library Project):

When I practiced playing the short pieces for the first time, I felt as if I had heard some of them before, like a sort of auditory deja vu. (I'm wondering if there is a word for it.) I love these beautiful pieces. Most of the pieces in both of the collections are easy to play, and pleasant to the ear, evocative of peace, gratitude, longing, and hope. 

Thankful that I've found these music scores on the Internet, I just wanted to share this piece of information with anyone that may be interested. 













Friday, February 7, 2020

Mindfulness in Six Words


Here and now,
just being,
breathing






reference: "Full Catastrophe Living" (Jon Kabat-Zinn)


Thursday, February 6, 2020

Six Sentence Stories: At a Meeting


As soon as I answered his question, I heard them gasping. 

Why did they look so surprised? 
Did I say something wrong? 
Was there anything wrong with the way I spoke?
Did they think I was kidding?

I looked them in the face, waiting for another question.










writing prompt: face

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

My Way Home



For a long time 
I was searching for my way home,
until I found it 
in the deepest part 
of my heart.



Tuesday, February 4, 2020

"Taste and See" (8)

I've finished reading Taste and See by Margaret Feinberg. The last chapter, which is short and beautiful, reminds me of the fact how meals cultivate our relationships with each other, and with God.

Special meals at special occasions symbolize something important in our history and in our lives. Food connects us to our ancestors, to each other, and to the Creator. Not only special feasts but also everyday meals are opportunities for us to deepen our relationship.

At the beginning of the radio series, Taste and See , Margaret mentions Revelation 3:10.


Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

This verse reminds me of the Bible Study Class for Beginners I attended more than 30 years ago, where the teacher quoted it, explaining that eating with someone means being friends with him. Now I am visualizing in my mind myself having a meal with Jesus. -- How delightful it would be! -- I would like to invite Jesus to every meal at our table.


I'm thankful for this delightful book, which satisfies my heart, and at the same time, stimulates the appetite.






Yoninah [CC BY-SA]




Food is God's love made edible.
--Margaret Feinberg--






Monday, February 3, 2020

"Taste and See" (7)

The theme of Chapter 7 of Taste and See by Margaret Feinberg is lamb. As in the previous chapters, I chuckled at the humorous expressions in the first part, appreciated the way the author summarizes some of the relevant stories in the Bible in the following sections, and I was moved to tears in the last part.

I feel that the Lord is urging me, through the writer, to be ready to minister to other people through my painful experiences, including the excruciating bouts of depression and the loss of my dream job as a result.


Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
the Father of compassion 
and the God of all comfort, 
who comforts us in all our troubles, 
so that we can comfort those in any trouble 
with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.



2 Corinthians 1:3-4  
 







Saturday, February 1, 2020

"Taste and See" (6)


In Chapter 6 of Taste and See by Margaret Feinberg, the author describes her visit to Croatia, where she harvested olives with a family living there, and explains some of the stories in the Scripture in which olives appear. Olive leaves symbolize peace, and olive oil has remarkable healing capabilities.

Reading this chapter, strangely, I was reminded of the small bottle of olive oil that was in Aunt Hana's medicine chest. Before I entered elementary school, Aunt Hana took care of me in her house while my mother was working in the office. When I got injured, Aunt Hana took our the bottle from the chest and applied some to the injury. I was fascinated with the exotic color and smell of the olive oil. In those days, we didn't have any olive oil in our house, so Aunt Hana's bottle of olive oil seemed to be something very special.

Olive trees do now grow where we live, but nowadays, imported olive oil is readily available and very popular because we know it is good for the health. I always have a large bottle of olive oil in my kitchen, and I use some at least every other day. I like its taste and aroma.

Back to the book, the description of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane (Olive Press) on pages 134-135 brought tears to my eyes.

... By His wounds we are healed.