Thursday, December 31, 2020

New Year's Eve

 




On the last day of the year 2020, I'd like to review Psalm 103 in Hebrew, 
thanking Him for all the good things He has done for me. 




#Six-Sentence Story: Distance

 Vera adored Victor. She almost worshipped him. She was overjoyed when they went steady, but soon began to feel uneasy. Her feelings were so intense that she was afraid Victor would eventually come to think of her as a burden and reject her.  She feared being rejected so much that she would rather make believe that it was she that would walk away from him first. She wondered if she should try to keep him at a distance in order to protect him from her obsession, thinking it might be the best way of showing her love for him.












this week's prompt: distance

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

The Soul and the Whole Being

 


(nephesh)

According to the video, the Hebrew word nephesh refers to 'the whole human as a living physical organism.' Seeing the word 'soul' in English translation, I used to think it meant a certain, invisible part of a human being, but the word 'soul' in the Bible means something larger. 

For example, in Deuteronomy 6:5, the word nephesh is translated as 'soul' in most Bibles in English, whereas in New English translation, it says "You must love the LORD your God with your whole mind, your whole being, and all your strength." (reference)

In the Japanese Bible, the word was translated as 精神 (seishin, similar to 'spirit' and 'soul') in the older versions, but now it is changed to another word, いのち、(inochi, 'life') in the latest version, published in 2017.

Studying the Hebrew word in the Bible helps deepen my understanding.


Monday, December 28, 2020

Today's Prayer

 Psalm 139:23-24


Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.


On the day I went to church for the very first time in my life, at the age of 20, I attended the Bible study group for beginners, where we read Psalm 139. Every time I read this psalm, I think of that happy day. 
Today, I pray the words of this psalm, sensing my understanding of its meaning is growing deeper.




Saturday, December 26, 2020

#Ten Things of Thankful: December 26, 2020

 

  1. a very quiet and peaceful Christmas 
  2. taking a long walk on the bridges almost every day this week 

  3. the book I have given myself as a Christmas present: 「心の部屋を空けて」(Let a Gentle Breeze Flow into The Room of Your Heart) by 堀肇(Hori Hajime).

  4. the other book that I have got: 「谷陰を越えて歩む」(Walking beyond the Shadowy Valley) by the same author

  5. deepening my friendship with T. Y. 
  6. a pleasant chat with K. T. the other day 
  7. playing chorales on the electronic organ for a short time every day
  8. simple everyday meals that are good for the health 
  9. colorful vegetables and fruits on the table 
  10. spending an hour or so everyday studying Psalms in Hebrew


Ten Things of Thankful


Friday, December 25, 2020

#Sky Watch Friday: December 25,2020

 



Now that the paths on the riverbanks are buried in the snow, I take a walk on the bridges instead. Sometimes, it is hard to walk against the strong wind, but at other times, I enjoy crossing the bridges, without being interrupted by any traffic signals at all.  -- Strangely, however, almost every time I get to the other side, it starts raining...





Skywatch Friday


Thursday, December 24, 2020

#Six-Sentence Story: Horizon

 


From the north window on the fourth floor of the school building, Vera saw dozens of roofs covered with the new snow sparkling in the sun. Beyond the roofs lay the deep blue sea. 

Gazing at the horizon, Vera thought of someone who had gone back to the other side of the ocean several months before. He was a language teacher from a foreign country, whom she had a crush on. He was 'the teacher' to her,  but she was just one of the students to him. She still missed the kind, friendly, and good-looking man who was now somewhere beyond the ocean.


this week's prompt: horizon

Monday, December 21, 2020

Peace in His Presence

 



Isaiah 7:14



I've been reading Jesus Calling -- Enjoying Peace in His Presence by Sarah Young, which serves as inspiring prayer starters. The book helps me pay more attention to His constant presence, which fills me and surrounds me with peace and joy. 

This Christmas, as always, I'd like to keep fixing my eyes on Jesus, who is Immanuel.

עִמָּנוּ אֵֽל 
(Immanuel)
God with us











Saturday, December 19, 2020

#Ten Things of Thankful: December 19, 2020

 



  1. taking a walk in the snow 
  2. a pair of lightweight snow boots
  3. the new down coat I've got this winter
  4. a pair of woolen gloves 
  5. a warm knit cap
  6. those who clear the snow of the sidewalks in our neighborhood 
  7. a cup of hot chocolate after coming home 
  8. the books on my desk, which I'm looking forward to reading 
  9. time to play some Christmas chorale preludes on the electronic organ 
  10. having memorized Psalm 8 in Hebrew this week 





Merry Christmas!


Ten Things of Thankful


Friday, December 18, 2020

#Sky watch Friday: December 18, 2020

 

We had the first snow of this season last Monday, and it has been snowy since then. In spite of the snow, I go for a walk every day. 


While I was taking a walk near the freight station, the snow let up, and a blue sky appeared for several minutes. 


Skywatch Friday


Thursday, December 17, 2020

#Six-Sentence Story: change

 



When I was growing up, my parents would often tell me that I was a wimp, and that I was always exaggerating my problems and overreacting to everything and everyone around me. 

In school, I was often isolated or made fun of by my classmates, because I was, somehow, different from most of them.

I learned to blame myself for my 'character flaws', and made efforts to change myself into what my parents expected me to be, by pretending to be less bashful, less timid, more decisive, more assertive, more confident and more courageous. 

I was successful, to some extent, in acting like a person that my parents would be proud of, but I was my own worst enemy, and I often succumbed to depression.

Fast forward to last year, I read an eye-opening book by Elain N. Aron, The Highly Sensitive Person, which changed the way I thought of myself. 

The book has made me realize that I have been wired to be far more sensitive than the average because of some genetic and environmental factors beyond my control, and that my 'character flaws' are not necessarily my fault, which means it is pointless to blame myself for being what I am.



this week's prompt: change






Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Prayer for my Pastor

 Isaiah 50:4-9 


The Sovereign LORD has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.

The Sovereign LORD has given the Rev. F* a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens him morning by morning, wakens his ear to listen like one being instructed. 

The Sovereign LORD has opened my ears; I have not been rebellious, I have not turned away.

The Sovereign LORD has opened his ears; he has not been rebellious, he has not turned away.

I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting.

He offered his back to those who beat him, his cheeks to those who pulled out his beard; he did not hide his face from mocking and spitting. 

Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.

Because the Sovereign LORD helps him, he will not be disgraced. Therefore has he set his face like flint, and he knows he will not be put to shame.

He who vindicates me is near. Who then will bring charges against me? Let us face each other! Who is my accuser? Let him confront me!

He who vindicates him is near. Who then will bring charges against him? Let us face each other! Who is his accuser? Let him confront him!

It is the Sovereign LORD who helps me. Who will condemn me? They will all wear out like a garment; the moths will eat them up.

It is the Sovereign LORD who helps him. Who will condemn him? They will all wear out like a garment; the moths will eat them up. 

 



In fact, this is a prayer not only for my pastor, the Rev. F*, but also for every pastor all over the world, and for His every little children who is serving the LORD, His every little children, including myself.


Tuesday, December 15, 2020

The Shield

Listening to Psalms in Hebrew, I've picked up several words that are repeated often and somehow speak to me. One of those words is 

מָגֵן  (magen), meaning 'shield.'


For example, it is found in this psalm.

But You, LORD, are a shield around me... (Psalm 3:3)


God is always with me, 
and He Himself is a shield around me, 
protecting me from all of my 'enemies', -- including myself.
(I am my own worst enemy...)
This imagery helps me to be aware of myself surrounded, and filled with His Peace.

Lord is a shield around me. 


This is why I'm praising Him today.





 

Monday, December 14, 2020

Advent: Week 3

 



Summary of some of the previous sermons by the Rev. F.

(Though the following is not directly related to the theme of Advent, 
I would like to post it here so that I will not forget it.)



Matthew 14:13-21 
Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

Why did Jesus tell His disciples to give the crowds something to eat? --He wanted to make them realize that they wouldn't be able to do so by themselves. It is impossible for us to serve Him without relying on His power. Whatever we do, we need to learn to depend on Him.


Matthew 14:22-33
Jesus Walks on the Water 

When Peter saw the wind, he was afraid and began to sink. Why did he panic? He is a fisher, and he was able to swim. If he relaxed himself, he would have floated on the water.  When the focus of his attention shifted from Jesus to the wind, however, he panicked and began to sink, because he struggled to save himself. When Peter cried out, "Lord, save me!", Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith, why did you doubt?"--Jesus must have said so in a loving voice. He was NOT rebuking Peter.  (cf. Hebrews 12:2)


Matthew 15:1-20 
Clean and Unclean

What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.” (v.11) --"What goes into someone's mouth" includes not only food and drink, but also diseases. Diseases do not defile us. But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.(v. 18-19)

 

Matthew 15:21-28
The Faith of the Canaanite Woman

Jesus knows us through and through. When He points out something to us, we are to say, "Yes, Lord," just like this woman (v. 27), instead of making excuses. In Genesis 3:9, God said to Adam, "Where are you?" He also asks us where we are now. Before the Lord, let us honestly admit where we are now. 



 



Saturday, December 12, 2020

#Ten Things of Thankful

 



  1. beautiful weather 
  2. taking a walk along the river in December
  3. four jars of honey that our neighbor has given us 
  4. a cup of hot water with some honey, apple vinegar and cinnamon that I have every morning
  5. loving friends 
  6. the pastor
  7. my elderly father 
  8. playing Christmas hymns on the electronic organ
  9. quality time with J 
  10. vegetables sold at the supermarket at reasonable prices


Ten Things of Thankful


Friday, December 11, 2020

#Sky watch Friday: December 11, 2020

 


It was a perfect day for taking a walk last Wednesday.
It is almost incredible that we are enjoying a beautiful day like this in mid December where we live.


Skywatch Friday



............................................................................


The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.


-John Milton, poet (1608-1674)



............................................................................


אַל־תִּירָא֙ כִּֽי עִמְּךָ֣־אָ֔נִי אַל־תִּשְׁתָּ֖ע כִּֽי־אֲנִ֣י אֱלֹהֶ֑יךָ
: אִמַּצְתִּ֙יךָ֙ אַף־עֲזַרְתִּ֔יךָ אַף־תְּמַכְתִּ֖יךָ בִּימִ֥ין צִדְקִֽי


Isaiah 41:10






Thursday, December 10, 2020

#Six Sentence Story: Menu

 

In my childhood, I didn't like going shopping downtown with my parents; I disliked crowded places, and I hated trying on more than half a dozen pieces of clothing that my mother recommended, most of which were not my taste. So my parents always had to cajole me into going out with them by promising me to buy me a book or two at the largest bookstore in the city.

After shopping, we sometimes had lunch or a snack at the cafeteria on the second floor of the bakery. I never had a look at the menu there, because I knew what I would like to have. At lunch time, I always ordered a Salisbury steak. For a snack, I always had a glass of ice cream float in summer, and in the other seasons I never failed to have some pan cake.





this week's prompt: menu




Tuesday, December 8, 2020

The Voice of God

My child, 

When you hurt, 
I also hurt.

When you suffer, 
I also suffer.

When you grieve, 
I also grieve. 

I am always with you.

I LOVE you.






In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.


Isaiah 63:9 

Monday, December 7, 2020

Advent: Week 2 -- Prayer

 



This week, I am reviewing the booklet,
written by Rey Stedman, 
which answers the following two questions:

1. What is the purpose of prayer?
2. What is true prayer?

The more I learn about prayer, 
the more I am thankful for Jesus, 
whose sacrifice has made it possible 
for us to pray to God. 







Saturday, December 5, 2020

#Ten Things of Thankful: December 5, 2020

1. We had a brand-new cooking stove installed last Monday. 
2. It has a number of safety measures and useful functions such as timers, automatic cooking modes, and so on. 
3. It comes with a manual, which seemed complicated at first, but the equipment has turned out to be easy to use. 
4. The fish we grilled using it was DELLICIOUS. 
5. It was almost two thirds as expensive as I had expected. 
6. My father paid for it. 
7. The two people who came to our house to install it were kind and friendly. 
8. The new cooking stove motivates me to spend more time in the kitchen, trying out some new recipes.

9. The book I mentioned a few weeks ago finally arrived. So far, I've read only a few pages, which I find powerful and inspiring.




10. I'm thankful for the love and patience of my friends.




Ten Things of Thankful




Friday, December 4, 2020

#Sky Watch Friday: December 4, 2020

 


I took this picture while I was taking a walk in the afternoon last Wednesday. The wind was cold, but pleasant. I'm thankful for these unexpected beautiful days in our city in December.


Skywatch Friday


Thursday, December 3, 2020

Where was I?

 

Where was I?

It was pitch-dark and freezing. 

I couldn't hear anything. 

I felt as if I were paralyzed. 

What was going on?




After what seemed like an eternity, a beam of bluish light came down from the sky...








this week's prompt: beam