Saturday, October 20, 2007

Scraps from the kitchen table

Yes, it's time for some more random food for thought at the breakfast table. Freckles, come and get it...
My good car-ma has turned sour. In August I shelled out a few thousand dollars in 10 days on my car and Matt's. Then a few weeks later, it turned out my car had not really been fixed. The problems were deeper, more sinister, more...expensive. It was time to give up Mr. '96 Cirrus as an organ donor for other cars who still have a chance at a full, productive life.

Since then, I've been on a hunt for that proverbial "good second car". The one I drive to work, that doesn't matter if it breaks down on the highway cause men can handle themselves in life threatening situations; e.g. car broken down on 4 lane interstate where people are not the least interested that your fan belt went out, you're just blocking traffic.

So, I find that a neighbor down the street has a Toyota Camry for sale at a really good price. I test drive it. Pretty nice. I think I've got a winner, until yesterday. While driving it to a garage to have it checked, a noise starts up. It gets louder as the mechanic takes it for a (very short) test drive. The water pump is going out. How is that? I take a perfectly healthy car for a 10 minute drive to the doctor for a check up, and it gets sick on the way. Corky the Mechanic says to stay away, this probably has more ills where that came from. I am going back to bicycling.

I just imagined myself pulling up to the airport on a bicycle with a luggage rack. That would be fun someday just to see people stare. "Sir, where is the long term bicycle parking lot?"

Speaking of stuff that doesn't work, the laptop I'm working on is a Sony. I've had it for 3.5 years, after my other one was stolen. I love this one. It works great, though its a little slow now. Tired I think. When I turn it on its side, a piece of loose metal on the inside can be heard sliding down the inside casing (that can't be a good sign).

The funny thing is that the wireless connection has worked around the world except one place. And in that one place, whenever I turn on the wireless, the computer screen quickly flashes a message that literally fills the whole screen with various messages of impending doom for my computer, and then it just shuts down. Where is this place? Ahh, The Tokyo Airport, specifically United's lounge, the Red Carpet Club. Everyone around me is steadfastly working on their computers, doing work, sending messages to loved ones about how soon they will be home, etc. and I'm shutting down.

Irony: the only place my Sony will not work is Japan. I think it should work better there. It's home. Visiting its birthplace. Roots. All that. But it just collapses in a heap. Perhaps its just too emotional of a moment. Having been separated from its homeland to live with me, and my broken cars, in Florida. I can understand.

Okay Freckles, we're all out of scraps. Stop begging and go lay down.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Now is the time for "gi".

So, there we are at the end of the trip. Jessica Tekawa, the outstanding stint team leader in Tokyo stepped in and saved the day with a picture. So much happened its hard to know what to say, but here are a few quick thoughts and impressions-

First, Japanese students are receiving Christ. At least as big of an issue is discipleship and growth, because of the social structure that is "stay with your group" in orientation. But for the spread of the gospel, that can be an advantage. The Japanese ministry is already moving to a small group strategy based more on relational networks than the campus you go to. Second is that God has to get in the conversation for the students. For this one, we need to pray and ask God for His plan to unfold. There are things we can do with media and so forth, but we all wonder what God might do to bring the question of eternity and hope for a different life in the here and now to the forefront of conversation. Something out of our control. Hmmm.

The Japanese leadership is moving forward in faith. Several other countries are looking at bringing in stinters and staff to Tokyo starting next year. I think the stage is being set for a spiritual breakthrough there as laborers are preparing and praying for a new day in Japan. THere staff leaders are excited about trusting God for spiritual movements all over the city, not just on a few campuses. So pray for God to bring the leaders that we need for such a large endeavor in the years ahead. And for the Kingdom of God to break in and bring life to the students, and ultimately all of Tokyo, and Japan, and the world, from what happens there. If an awakening broke out here, it would surely be noticed.

On the lighter side, the last night 4 of us went to a local restaurant that is known for its little beef and chicken skewers. I've never tasted beef on a stick that was sooo good. We sat next to a Japanese couple who had lived in Washington DC and joked and laughed for an hour with them. We got into a David Letterman style banter about corn ice cream, one of the flavors in Japan, which they like. But they didn't like root beer, which they had in the US. It was all pretty hilarious. A "had to be there" moment for sure. But it was so worth it.

I also like that the Japanese word for "righteousness" is "gi". I like that. Gi. Jesus is our gi. May he bring gi to Tokyo.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Conveyor Belt Sushi

Our City Focus team ended a day of conversations and planning by going to 45th floor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building at sunset and praying over the city. It is an incredible view, to look out over Tokyo, and its millions of citizens, and pray for the Spirit of God to sweep over this city and bring awakening. Our prayers join with millions of others I'm sure, for this great nation and city.

I ended the day with Greg Triplett from USC and Dennis Chen from Austin at a converyor belt sushi restaurant. On small plates the sushi (fresh raw salmon, tuna, etc) comes by on plates, you grab what you want, and pay for what you eat. 7 plate minimum, with 20 min. max for 7 plates. So there is an initial frenzy of sorts as a novice, cause I felt like I was eating against the clock. It was awesome. I think I won somehow, but not really sure. Notice the missing people in the picture. This of course because I left my camera in Orlando, but at least I brought the cable to transfer the pictures to my computer, as well as the battery charger. So, I got that going for me.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Tokyo City Focus Trip

I forgot my digital camera, or else you could be enjoying another picture of me in an airport. I’m in San Francisco on my way for another CityFocus trip to Tokyo. (In case you are new to The Global Road, CityFocus is WSN’s partnering effort in some major cities of the world to see spiritual awakening among the students) I’m going with John Waidley, a way cool friend from Mission Viejo, CA with a huge heart for the cities of the world. And Sam Osterloh, long time friend from college days at Southwest Missouri State University and current fellow National Team member with CCC. Joining us will be Scott and Jen Thomson from Yale and Greg Triplett from USC, Dennis Chen from Austin and Ralph Cooley from Idaho.

What strikes me as pretty amazing about John, Sam, and I on this trip is that we were all present at the spiritual birth of WSN in 1988 at Horn Creek Ranch in Colorado. This gathering of about 100 or so CCC staff from around the world launched what God had been putting on many hearts for years, that students could actually be effective “short term” missionaries that planted campus movements all over the world, and not just go for week long experiences with a hope that they would go long term some day overseas. And that it would be about all students going, not just American students.

But what signified this as a spiritual birth, and not just a strategy or conceptual meeting, was what we all experienced from the Lord one evening. A powerful wind rushing down the mountain during an evening of worship knocked out the electricity. We continued to worship by candlelight with an acoustic guitar and some simple choruses, and what happened next can be told, but not fully appreciated unless you were there.

Within a short time, we were led to a time of prayer and confession of sin in this mountain lodge, and you could feel the Spirit of God in our midst. Mixed with prayers of confession of pride were prayers for the nations to know the glory of God, for His Kingdom to advance, and for the gospel to reach out to the “Powerful Percent”, the 1% of people in the world who are university students. And when we ended that time, everyone felt a sense of awe, that we had just experienced something that was of God, and His presence was there in a special way. For many of us, it was and continues to be one of those defining moments in our Christian experience.

So here we are, three of us from that gathering, 19 years later, still involved in the vision that had grabbed our hearts; seeing God change the world through the lives of university students. Please pray for these meetings as we gather this week and pray and plan for an outpouring of His Spirit on the students of Tokyo and all of Japan.