“Good” Friday

Holy Week is an important time of remembrance and reflection for the Christian community. For a Christian, the most central event of their faith and belief is that Jesus Christ is the Savior of this broken world. This was accomplished on the cross in His death where he bore the sins of the world as the son of man and then in the resurrection as He overcame death as the Son of God. Fully man, fully God.

So on Good Friday we remember the crucifixion of Jesus. Doesn’t seem like a very good day, right? Of course the reasoning is understandable, it was a good for us. The event itself doesn’t seem so good. In fact, the torture, humiliation and excruciating death of Jesus does not feel good at all. It really is a perspective thing.

Jonah asked me recently why we need parents to tell children what to do. It led into a discussion about the role of parents and the intent behind parental instruction and discipline. It’s all to prepare children for the future. Certainly obedience to parents is not something that most children perceive as good in the moment. Hopefully, as children grow older and launch into adulthood, they will see that it was good.

The GOOD in Good Friday requires a look into eternity. What do you believe awaits after death? What happens to a person’s spirit/soul when life on this earth has ceased? Is this really it? Do we close our eyes one last time and it’s all done?

For me, I believe there is more.

Good in this life is relative. Ideally, we have good in this life and in the life to come. Most of us, if asked, would probably prefer to have a good life on earth and a good life in eternity. There are some that believe if you live a good life on earth, you will live a good life after death. Again, its perspective. Who defines what is good?

More and more, what the world sees as good, is not aligned with my belief in what scripture defines it to be. Good, as I understand it in the Christian faith, is a life solely centered on Christ. Any gesture of kindness, love and otherwise, is centered on God’s glory. The world’s focus is driven toward the “good” of the individual in this life now. Sometimes we have to do things in this life that may not feel so good. Sacrifice and discipline, don’t feel so good. When we are following Jesus in all we do, we can rest assured that eternal good awaits.

As Jesus prepared for the cross. As He shared the last meal with his disciples. As He prayed fervently in the garden. As He absorbed the torture and mocking. As He bore His cross on which he would be tormented and crucified. As all of these events unfolded, I believe Jesus saw it as good, because His perspective was eternal. In the midst of his suffering He calls out, “Father forgive them”, because He knew what was truly good.

Following Jesus and committing your life to live for Him alone does not ensure a good life now. A life lived for Jesus is good in what awaits us in eternity. -jason

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Flowers on the Grave

Far too many lives lost recently. Colleagues, friends and family, 2018 has already proven to be a year of too much loss.

A few weeks ago I went to the Nu`uanu Mortuary to do an inurnment service. I arrived a bit early and walked the property. There were other groups there. Funerals always seem to have two or three guys standing outside dressed respectfully, sunglasses on, smoking a cigarette. Conversation seems indirectly engaged, each gazing in different direction, but connected by their words. Inside family and friends gather in small groups and float between tearful condolences and laughter from joyful memories. Children find acceptable places to work out their boredom while not ruining their semi-formal attire.

Looking out at the grounds and walking through various columbaria can be somewhat haunting. The knowledge of what lay beneath the ground and in tiny boxes in a niche, combined with names and beautiful sentiments inscribed by loved ones. Then the flowers, so many magnificent flowers placed at grave sites and on the walls of remembrance. The captivating vision and fragrance of these gorgeous bouquets waft through to cover up the reality of death that defines the property.

Flowers on the grave really are for the living. I know the sentiment throughout cultures and religious beliefs are to honor the deceased. That’s a noble practice and also necessary for so many that are grieving. There is a therapeutic process that occurs for activities of remembrance of the dead. We all need to grieve. I began to wonder, though,  how much more comforting the grieving process might be if we remember the living as significantly as we remember the dead?

This is a potentially loaded charge, but I think it’s true for us all. We reflect back and think of all the things we “shoulda” done. Death tends to the the most challenging “shoulda” experience and I don’t know that it is completely avoidable. Flowers on the grave of our loved ones is a great gesture. One that I hope to practice for my loved ones. I do hope that when loved ones are lost I feel that I’ve given enough flowers while they were alive. When we can smell them together, enjoy them together and talk about it’s beauty together.

For me, I see this life as temporary. A time to live alongside people in a broken world. A season to laugh together, cry together and share life together. A time of preparation for what comes after this life. For me, I hope you all come to know what I have known, there is something else. There will be a healed world that takes us back to the original intention of all creation, God’s perfect glory. I hope that by grace through faith in Jesus Christ we will all be there together one day. I imagine the flowers will be amazing.

My friend Clyde Kakiuchi spoke at a memorial service this past weekend. He spoke on the story of King David at the death of his son. While his son was ill, David fasted and wept. Once his child had died David cleaned himself up and ate food. 2 Samuel 12:

“Then his servants said to him,’What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” He said,’While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.”

Death is final on this earth. There is no turning back. David understood this, but he also understood that one day he would see his son again in the presence of his Lord. While his son lived he did what he could. When his son had passed, he accepted that.

Let us make the most of this life together. Let’s smell the flowers together. Let’s talk about the flowers together. Let’s remember that there is something after this. Treasure the relationships in this life and do the things you need to do now. Then through faith in Jesus, may your flowers on the grave not be a gesture of goodbye, but “till we meet again.” -jason

 

Realationships

I consider myself fortunate to know so many wonderful people. My life has traveled down many different roads that have allowed me to cross many paths. From Aina Haina Elementary School to Golden Gate Baptist Seminary, I have learned many lessons from classmates and peers in various educational settings. From Kuliouou Valley to Marin County, I have lived at many residences and shared life with fellow sojourners. From Long’s Drug Store to the Department of Education, I have labored alongside respected colleagues in a long list of jobs. From New Hope to Hawaii Kai Church, I have worshiped and served alongside faithful brothers and sisters.

In so many areas of life we build relationships. With the creation of social media it’s even easier to stay in touch with friends that we make along the way. Even through the many friends and followers you might have, there are a handful of real relationships. These are the ones that you have that special connection with. Friends that you can go a length of time without seeing, but you never miss a beat when you finally do.

Hopefully we treasure and appreciate all the friends and relationships we build through the years. You will come to find that there are some that will fade. Some relationships are built around a place or position and they never grow beyond that. Then there are those that will always be there for you, even when life gets REAL. Tragedy, struggles, and seasons of hardships tend to filter out the relationships and leave you with the REALationships.

Treasure these. Invest in these. Be grateful always for every relationship, even the challenging ones, but make sure you are nurturing and pouring into the REALationships that will be with you for a lifetime. -jason

 

Bagel Sandwiches

One morning I cooked the kids breakfast and I decided to make myself a breakfast sandwich. Two slices of Japanese style white bread, lightly toasted, a few squirts of Japanese mayonnaise, cheddar cheese, three strips of bacon, two eggs over easy, and three slices of tomato. Cut into that sandwich and watch the yolk ooze out…PERFECT!

As I was preparing my breakfast bliss, it reminded me of my youth.

My parents were already off to work by the time I woke up for school. They had to leave early to catch the Downtown Express bus. I could always count on one thing, my mom made me breakfast. One of the breakfasts that I remember was bagel sandwiches. She made those sandwiches and I loved them! It started my day off well.

As I am preparing my own breakfast sandwich I am realizing that I probably did not express my appreciation very often for those sandwiches. Its not a huge thing, but sometimes it’s the constant little gestures that paint the big picture of sacrificial love. It’s not only bagel sandwiches, it’s support on school projects, it’s trying to appease the latest youth fashion trends, it’s chauffeuring me to different events, it’s the superhuman care that she would give when I wasn’t feeling well.

I suppose it could be chalked up to a mother’s love, but when I reflect back, I see actions that were above and beyond. As a parent myself there are times when I am tired, when I am frustrated and I want to put my own personal needs in front of my kids. I fail often at displaying that sacrificial love to others. That’s something I want to keep working on. It takes time, it takes commitment and it takes a desire to see beyond yourself for the needs of others.

I’m imagining a world where we are saturated with self-sacrificing expressions of love. Where these types of stories are the norm and not the exception. A world where forwarded chain emails of heart-warming stories decrease significantly, because we see those types of behaviors everyday.

Who are you going to make a bagel breakfast sandwich for? Who will you take the time to bless? Who will you show care for above and beyond your personal preferences? How will you show self-sacrificing love?

My guess is, if we start with our kids in a way that teaches and models, there’s a chance we can start a movement. Make someone a bagel sandwich today. -jason

Dress the Part

Yesterday I attended a Fitness Event for all the of the Elementary schools in the Windward district of Oahu. I showed up dressed how I usually dress. Aloha shirt, long pants and dress shoes. Most of the people there had on t-shirt and shorts, including staff. That was probably the better decision since it was hot in the sun!

With my Aloha Business attire and my DOE badge, I had several people come up to me and ask me questions. Even the person managing the parking lot approached me and asked where the VIP’s should park. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by that considering how I was dressed compared to the majority of the group.

It reminded me also of my time doing hospital chaplaincy at Marin General Hospital. I had more than a few patients call me doctor when I entered the room. A couple continued to do so even after I clarified that I was the chaplain. With my long sleeve dress shirts and slacks, I can see why they thought that. I was dressed the part.

It’s similar in the military, with any uniformed profession, or any role that has distinguishable attire. There’s really more to it than what you wear. It’s your physical demeanor, it’s your facial expressions, it’s how you communicate and interact with others and in the end it’s what flows from the inside.

You can wear a fancy uniform, you can have nice clothes, you might even have physical attributes that make you more identifiable with a certain profession, but as time goes on, if you are not adorned within with the intangible traits of that role or function, your outer appearance loses it’s impact. When people know the person that dwells beneath the outer you, what will they see?

Dress the part, inside and out. Put on integrity, clothed yourself with confidence, dress in robes of compassion, cover yourself with wisdom and discernment. The person you are on the inside ultimately determines who you are to others. -jason