Hurricane Warning

Hurricane Lane came barreling toward the island state of Hawaii. An intense Category 5 Major Hurricane presented potentially catastrophic outcomes.

If you have lived in Hawaii for any significant amount of time, you likely have been around during some natural disaster warnings. Tsunami threats and hurricane/storm warnings are not uncommon. When these things happen, people start to prepare.

When I went to Costco there was a pallet of about 20 cases of water left. An employee was standing there loading the water into carts for customers limiting everyone to two cases. I stopped to get gas and there was only diesel and regular grade left, the lines were long. Everyone was preparing, and that is a good thing. Always be prepared.

There is a parable in the Bible that Jesus tells regarding the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven upon the earth. In this parable of the ten virgins, they are waiting for the bridegroom to arrive. They have lamps so that they will be able to participate in the celebration of the wedding feast between the bride (the Church) and the Bridegroom (Jesus Christ). Five of those virgins did not bring extra oil and therefore were unable to participate when the bridegroom arrived. (Matthew 25)

In the chapter preceding this one, Jesus gives the background to the need for this parable. Enraged with the Pharisees, He tells his disciples whats to come: 

“Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.”

This is just a sample of the signs of what is to come, the return of the Lord.

The Christian understanding is that we are all prone to turn from God. That’s just our nature. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ was the redeeming of many who He has called back to Him. In the end a storm is coming. There will be destruction, but those who are prepared will live.

Like a natural disaster, we should always be prepared, not just at the last minute. With the return of Jesus, we are already seeing the effects of the storm and we already have heralds proclaiming the coming storm. Will you be prepared?

Hurricane Lane has not passed us yet. We are not yet in the clear. The damage from heavy rains are already being broadcast on the news. Pray that it might move on with minimal further damage. This storm will eventually pass, but consider the spiritual storm that is brewing in our world. Be prepared, there is only one shelter available for this storm. -jason

 

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Too Soon AND Right on Time

Last year at our church’s annual Memorial Day picnic, I had the privilege of baptizing Irene alongside Pastor Tim. Members of the church gathered at the beach at Bellows and joyful shouted praises of joy when Irene reemerged from the waters. I met with Irene and her husband the month prior and she was very clear about her faith in Jesus. During that time Irene had a little concern about the baptism, she had severe back pain and had been resting it so she could be there.

Last month I took Irene to two doctors appointments. They were radiation appointments to treat the cancer that spread through her body, the cancer that we later learned was causing the severe pain in her back.

 

Last night we got a message, Irene had passed away.

 

Irene was a young doctor. She shared with me the dreams that she had for her practice. She truly just wanted to help people. In the times that I was able to spend with her, she was always pleasant, always warm, even when she was in constant pain. One thing I will remember was her faith. She trusted that the Lord could heal her body, and she also knew that if her time came, He could call her home. She had faith in God’s all-powerful healing hand, and also God’s all knowing sovereign will.

There is peace in knowing that Irene is with the Lord. We can rejoice in that. No more pain, no more suffering. Still, there is loss and grieving for her husband and two teenage children that she leaves behind. There is sadness and broken hearts for her church family that has been praying and visiting with her. For us, Irene has been taken too soon. There was so much more she could have done with the dreams of her medical practice. There were so many more memories to be made with her family. Her church family was looking forward to serving along side her in the work of the gospel ministry. Too soon.

Irene’s own faith reminds me, her death is right on time. It was a faith that knows the Lord sees the bigger picture. Sometimes tragedy and triumph coexist. Irene knew that that Jesus is victorious. Jesus defeated death. He lives. Through her faith, Irene too will defeat death because of Jesus’ victory in the resurrection. Because He lives, she will also. In the ultimate plan for creation, I don’t believe God caused Irene’s death, but I do believe that in His sovereign will, He allowed it and saw that it was time. Right on time.

It’s both, too soon and right on time. It doesn’t make sense and so we grieve. We must. We find peace and comfort through our grief in knowing that God is good and He loves Irene more than we could ever. We trust it was the right time and we seek Him for guidance through our grief.

Too soon and right on time has been something I am seeing all too much. There is a lot of suffering in the world. Stay near to the ones you love. Don’t wait till tomorrow. We must trust in the Lord’s divine understanding, His sovereign will and be prepared when that right time comes much too soon for us. -jason

 

Smell You Later

Will Smith, as the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, famously rapped the phrase “smell ya later” as he departed a cab that apparently had a foul smell. Smells are something I am extremely sensitive to. I will never buy another front load washer because of the smell that lingers because we forget a load of laundry in it for more than an hour. The days of diapers are happily behind me while the smells of dirty diapers have created haunting memories. Strong perfume and cologne (to all you AXE preteens, spray less…way less) give me headaches, most of the time.

One lady from our church has a perfume that sticks on me for a couple hours after she gives me a hug. She is one of those people that is always so happy to see you, always greets you with a warm hello and a hug and a kiss. She is interested in your life, genuinely interested. For those couple of hours after we greet each other, the smell of her perfume that lingers on me brings to mind the smile and warmth of the sweet “aunty” that I always look forward to seeing.

What smell do you leave with people? I know I have many growing areas that have rubbed people the wrong way. I’m certain that certain interactions have left people stuck with the stench of my poor attitude or sharp temperament. I’m trying to make sure people walk away with a sweet fragrance and fond memories of my interactions with them, even if just a passing moment. There are so many characteristic of Christ that I aspire to, love, compassion, mercy, grace, etc. I know if I strive for those things, the aroma will be pleasing to most.

Of course I know for myself I can do nothing else but rely on my Lord Jesus Christ for such sweet fragrance. All those acts of love and compassion are just preludes to the greatest act of compassion which was Jesus on the cross. If my actions stop at myself, I am selling people short.

In 2 Corinthians Paul is writing to the church in Corinth and it appears there are some challenges. His words to them from God are to push forward in sharing the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection. He uses the imagery of a victory march after a battle where incense would be burned. To those who are victorious, the smell is sweet. To those who are defeated, the smell is of death. He says in chapter 2 verses 15-17

“For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.”

My hope is to be a sweet smell to those I meet. I want to ultimately leave people with the fragrance of life, life that is only from Jesus Christ. The battle is won, victory has been established, and I’m just a messenger of that good news. If I have no love and just preach to people, I risk becoming a “peddler of God’s word”. There must be the sweet fragrance of love, but in the end my calling is to swing my censer of incense in the victory of Jesus. The sweetest fragrance of all.

What smell will you leave lingering in your path? -jason

What Does Your Garden Grow?

In the famous nursery rhyme Mary is asked, “How does your garden grow?” Like many of these old nursery rhymes, there are political or religious meanings buried beneath the words. Today I ask you not how, but “What does your garden grow?”

Recently I was doing some yard work. I’ve mentioned my father’s green thumb before. He has cultivated many kinds of fruit bearing trees for as long as I can remember. We had papayas for breakfast on a regular basis, chilled mango for snacks on hot summer days, more bananas that we could consume on our own. Currently he has a mango tree, two avocado trees, a lemon tree, an orange tree, a tangerine tree and a recently cut down guava tree.

With the guava my dad often made guava jam, sometimes he would use it to make a guava nectar drink, but that hasn’t happened in years. When the guava grew they would just drop to the ground, rot, fill the air with a strong scent and attract a ton of fruit flies. The decision was made that the guava were not being used any more, so it was best that we cut it down.

When the guava was used it was a good fruit. When it is allowed to fall and rot, it becomes more of a burden.

In the scriptures we are taught that we will recognize false prophets by the fruit they bear. Jesus specifically mentions good fruit and bad fruit. In verses 17-20 He says:

“So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.”

Again I ask, what does your garden grow? There may be fruit, but what kind of fruit are growing? Sometimes what grows may seem like good fruit, but if the Lord does not harvest it, it falls, rots, and attracts bugs. Consider wealth. Is it wealth a bad thing? No. When the Lord harvests the fruit of wealth in your life it is used tremendously for His glory. Think of how the Kingdom has advanced because of the generosity of many wealthy brothers and sisters that have given to the gospel work. When wealth is just kept and not given to the Lord of harvest, it rots. The stench of greed fills the air. It attracts bugs, those who just want to feast on what you have to offer them. What about social causes? Should we neglect the poor, the needy, and the oppressed? May it never be! When these things are done with the gospel as it’s end, the Lord of harvest does good things. When it is done without any kingdom purpose it produces the pungent odor of hate, violence and hypocrisy.

When the Lord harvests these fruits in your life, when you open yourself up to His leading and direction, when you acknowledge that all authority and blessing have been given by Him, He transforms it to the fruit of the Spirit. Our wealth, our actions, our families and our very lives are transformed into “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

What does your garden grow? -jason

Fear Factory

My children, like most children are afraid of the dark. This only happened recently for Jonah. A few months ago we would read a couple books, sing a song, pray and I would say good night and shut his door and he would go to sleep. Soon he started asking for a nightlight and it progressed to leaving the door open. Now he will randomly call for us, even with the nightlight on, the door open and the hall light on, because he’s afraid.

This morning Jonah woke up at 5am and sat in the bathroom with me while I brushed my teeth and shaved. I asked him why he woke up so early and he said because he’s scared. When I asked what he’s scared of he said, “I don’t know”.

Isn’t that true for many of us? We are afraid, we have fears, but we don’t quite know what we are afraid of. Like children, the more we learn and discover, the more our potential for fears grow. Our minds are fear factories. With the ubiquitous and instantaneous connection to information our minds are flooded even more than ever with information. All that information is processed and some of it feeds our fears. Nuclear threats, economic forecasts, natural disasters, violent crimes and even medical crisis all get processed in the fear factories of our minds. In the world of psychology they have labels for a variety of fears. In the Peanuts Christmas movie Lucy is trying to diagnose Charlie Brown: “Are you afraid of responsibility? If you are, then you have hypengyophobia. How about cats? If you’re afraid of cats, you have ailurophasia. Are you afraid of staircases? If you are, then you have climacaphobia. Maybe you have thalassophobia. This is fear of the ocean, or gephyrobia, which is the fear of crossing bridges. Or maybe you have pantophobia. Do you think you have pantophobia?”Charlie Brown asks, “What’s pantophobia?” Lucy responds, “The fear of everything.”

It is almost certain that we all have fears. The strongest of women and the toughest of men all have their fears. Some of us understand it, some of us don’t. Many times we try to mask it. I believe this is the appeal of horror shows. Some of these shows are absolutely horrendous! Regardless, people love them, I believe, because it gives them a tangible fear to distract from the real fears inside.

With so many verses in the Bible on fear, I believe we need to start with Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” It is the renewing of your mind, a work of the Spirit, which will keep you from thinking in the way of worldly fears, but will find peace and comfort in the perfect will of God. It is then that we can understand the promise of God in 2 Timothy 1:7, “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

We all have our fears and they may not disappear forever, but when we are walking with God His Spirit delivers us from fear. This Christmas may you rejoice in the greatest gift of all, Jesus Christ. With the grace of God that is delivered to man through Jesus, we can renew our minds from fear factories to peace and love. -jason

A Pake Full of Posies

The well-known nursery rhyme, “Ring Around the Rosie” is often explained as a coded reference to the Black Plague or bubonic plague. The truth is, like many nursery rhymes, there really is no in-depth meaning. The lyrics were a means to an end. Amazing that an innocent children’s song can turn into something so dark and disturbing. Oh, what the human mind is capable of. This is just one example of so many things that can get misinterpreted in life. Sometimes perception is developed out of the observer’s wild imagination, but other times we can feed that perception.

I am a proud PAKE! Pake was a Hawaiian word that referenced China or Chinese. Over the years it has evolved to refer to a cheap person. I prefer what my Pake sister said recently, “I’m not cheap, I’m frugal.” Whatever the implications of that word, a true Pake cannot resist a good deal! This morning in my reading of Genesis 23 I realized, a good deal may not always be a GOOD DEAL.

Abraham was just measured of his faith by the act of sacrificing his son. Following this account his wife Sarah dies and Abraham is seeking a proper burial. In the foreign place that he is a sojourner, he seeks some land. The people of that land, the Hittites, offer him any property he wants and recognize him as a “prince of God”. Instead of taking the land he insists on paying. Some Biblical scholars may argue that there was deceit on the part of the Hittites in various forms. The lesson I walked away with was to represent well. Represent yourself, your family, and your friends and most importantly, your God the best you can.

Leading up to this chapter I was under the impression that Abraham might have been PAKE. Not once, but twice he deceived a king and walked away with some serious loot! This guy put his wife in jeopardy for his safety and got rewarded for it. That’s WAY over the top. Now, he insists on paying full price for the land. Why not just take the free offer? Again, there can be much speculation on payment to avoid deceit. It possibly was just a shrewd business move, but I think it was more. I think Abraham was acting out of integrity. Paid for the land, which his family would be buried to represent his family well. Also, he dealt fair with these foreigners to represent his God well. God’s Word warns us constantly against greed.

There is little more exciting to me than a good deal. My favorite word is F-R-E-E!!! How well do I represent my Lord, my family and myself if I take everything for free? There is careful discernment in seeing God’s blessing and knowing when to bless others. God’s blessing is not a one way stop into our lives, it should be a constant flow through our lives. 1 John 3:16-18 says, “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” So also other will know the love of God by our actions. The church has been vilified throughout history, some of it is perception of the observer, other times it our own actions. I am encouraged today to not be a Pake Full of Posies, but to allow blessings to flow through me. -jason