God and the Japanese Apology

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My husband is Japanese.  Not Japanese American, although he became an American citizen.  No, I’m talking Japanese-born-in-Japan-Japanese.  I lived in Japan for a year.  He is my souvenir.  Or, as he tells people – you imported your car, she imported me.

Japanese-American marriages have an unusually high divorce rate.  This is because no two cultures are believed to be as different as those of America and Japan.  The hive mentality meets the land of the individual.  I’m going to tell you about an argument my husband and I had when we’d been married just a few years.  It lasted 45 minutes and was a real corker.

It started with my husband telling me he was upset because he was always the one apologizing.  I seldom apologized for anything.  He was right.  I don’t apologize often.  He, on the other hand, apologizes if it’s raining, or if the pop lid thingee breaks on your can of Coke.  In other words, he apologizes all the time for EVERYTHING.  So, we started arguing.  About why we apologize.  What it means.  When we should do it.  After 45 minutes, I finally yelled, “STOP!  I think I have this figured out.”

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Are you living in the Matrix?

system failure

 

Physicists are theorizing that we actually exist within a computer simulation.  Do we exist within a computer simulation like the Matrix?  The question may actually be backward.  Is reality explaining simulations to us or are our simulations exposing our misunderstanding of reality?  Or both?

I don’t believe we exist within a computer simulation.  I do believe we exist in the mind of God.  Stop rolling your eyes.  Call him the Programmer if that makes you happier.  If that is the case, then everything we are learning about reality as a simulation makes sense.

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It’s Sunday. Forever.

Isaiah 53

 

It was Friday and there was nothing good about it.  Evil sat enthroned on sin, death and injustice.  A man hung nailed to a tree.  What irony that it took three nails to hold him there.  He had done no wrong.  The charges against him were trumped up lies.  The judge who could have stopped the whole thing didn’t stop it simply to avoid upsetting the status quo.

The nail of sin.  Not the dying man’s sin.  He had not sinned.  He hung there for the sins of those who put him there.  He could name every sin that had ever been committed.  He kept a tally so that when it was over, he could say that his death would cover every single one of them.  It was a long list but he would not allow even the smallest to be omitted or overlooked.  His death would cover them all.

The nail of death.  Throughout history death has been looked upon as the final, ultimate answer to any one considered to be a problem and Yeshua was definitely considered to be a problem.  The religious authorities had already decided that Yeshua could not be who he claimed to be.  He was not the Messiah they wanted so he could not be the Messiah.  The fact that they were able to get him convicted with no evidence and nailed to a cross only proved the point in their minds.  Pilate knew it wasn’t right but to let Yeshua live presented problems.  A potential for a riot.  Tattletales running to Rome whispering that he had allowed a man to go free who claimed to be a king.  Caesar would not be happy with a riot or a rival.  Death could settle these little problems for Pilate.

And it did settle the problems, right?  Satan probably would have agreed.  He used Herod to try to kill Yeshua shortly after his birth.  Now he had finally succeeded.  Satan was in terror of a God who would descend to earth and rule.  He could never hope to keep his hold on earth if God took his seat in the Temple.  So it was all over in Satan’s eyes.  He’d won  Won it all.  The earth.  Mankind.  Everything.

But, in the words of the preacher, it’s Friday but Sunday’s coming.

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Happy Easter?  Thank a Jew.

 

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Yes, Happy Easter, the celebration of the resurrection of the Messiah from the dead.  Had Jesus simply died on the cross and not risen from the dead, we would remain separated from God and have no hope of heaven.  Yet Jesus could not have risen from the dead if He had not died on the cross.  It was His death in our place that satisfied the requirements of the Law, paid the penalty for our failure to keep the Law and allowed us to be redeemed by faith.  So it follows that Jesus’ resurrection could not have happened without His death and, for us, His death was our only hope.  This is why Good Friday is good – good for us but torture and agony for Jesus.  He did it for the joy he saw on the other side of death.  He did it for us.

Yet, Easter has a dark history of persecution for Jewish people.  The centuries old cry to punish Jews for the death of Jesus has not died out.  But is it justified?  Would God approve?  No.

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Hag Sameach – Did you celebrate Purim?

Purim

Purim is the Feast of Esther.  It’s when we celebrate God’s continued protection of his people.  As many of you may know, the name of God is never mentioned in the book of Esther but that doesn’t mean he is not there.  As my pastor pointed out, the Jews in this story were post-Exilic.  Stop scratching your head.  It means the 70 exile from the land of Israel had ended and Jews were able to return to the land and rebuild the Temple.  Yet in the book of Esther, we read about Jews who did not return.  They remained in exile and, as is clearly demonstrated, God did not abandon them for not returning to the land.

Even though they did not obey God and return to the land, they are vital to the story.  God works through their continued presence outside the land to protect those who had obeyed and were inside the land.  God takes what appears to be disobedience and shows us that he will achieve his ends and his glory through it.  He is that powerful.

We had a blast.  But that is how it is supposed to be.  We are told in the book:

Mordecai recorded these events and sent letters to all the Jews in all of King Ahasuerus’s provinces, both near and far.  He ordered them to celebrate the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month Adar every year because during those days the Jews got rid of their enemies. That was the month when their sorrow was turned into rejoicing and their mourning into a holiday. They were to be days of feasting, rejoicing, and of sending gifts to one another and the poor.   Esther 9:20-22

And so on the feast of Purim, we tell the story.  Because we are supposed to have fun with it, often the story is told rather tongue-in-cheek.  This year we told the story in a Star Wars version, or, to be more precise, the Star of David Wars.  And I was Queen Esther-Leia.  Aaaah.  Yes, when the name of Esther is mentioned, we should say Aaah because she is the beautiful heroine.  When Haman is mentioned, we boo to drown out his name because he is the bad guy.  And when Mordechai is mentioned, we cheer because he is the hero.

Want to see it?  Use the link below and scroll down the page it pulls up.  Enjoy!  Hag Sameach!

http://www.olive-tree.org/purim

 

THE COURAGE TO CALL THINGS WHAT THEY ARE IN A WORLD THAT WON’T

 

Rachel Dolezal

Rachel Dolezal was in the news a lot about a year ago.  To refresh your memory, she was the head of the Spokane office of the NAACP.  After six apparently highly productive months in that position, her parents came forward with her birth certificate and pointed out that Ms. Dolezal was born a white person.  According to one article that I read, white with blond hair and blue eyes, no less.  They were confused at her insistence that she is a black woman.  Ms. Dolezal had to resign from her position in order to defuse the heated debate that surged around her.  She insists to the present that she identifies as a black woman.  In her eyes, she is black.  Or, as she has termed it, “trans-black”.  And it has cost her everything.  She is unable to find any type of employment, teeters on the edge of homelessness and is living on food stamps.  Who can doubt her sincerity?  If I am asked to judge her by the culture in which I live, there is no basis to challenge that claim.  If I am asked to judge her by the moral standards of my faith, then I must conclude that she is not black.  Why the disparity?  How can there be such a deep chasm between my culture and my faith?  Easily.  It all derives from the foundation on which each stands.

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I’m Already Dancing

dancing

If you click the Youtube link to the left, you’ll find my latest video to date.  It’s ‘Testify’ by NeedToBreathe.  My rule is that I make videos to songs that make me cry.  This one made me laugh and cry.  Why?  It reminded me of some truths that are so easy to forget in my busy, adult life.

You’ll notice a maze theme running through the video which comes from the lyrics ‘there is a peace, there is a love, you can get lost inside’.  It made me think of mazes.  In adults, that is a theme that inspires trepidation.  We don’t want to get trapped inside a maze.  It’s threatening.  But look at the faces of the children running through the mazes.  It’s not fear or anxiety on their faces.  It’s excitement and anticipation and joy.  God wants me to run through the maze of my life with excitement, never knowing what he has around the next corner but safe in the knowledge that a good God will be there waiting for me.  I should lose myself in his peace and love.  My goal should be to reach the center, not to escape the maze.

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