Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Listen to God

When Kim and I were on staff with Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ), we talked with the college students about a personal relationship with God. It is intimate and dynamic.

But in reality, we were not sure how to experience such a relationship with the Living God on a daily basis. We studied the Word. We prayed. We tried to live according to the Kingdom principles.

They are good and profitable practices and the starting point of our walk with Jesus.

Then the question rose. How did Jesus experience His fellowship with the Father?

He knew Scriptures. He prayed frequently. He practiced and taught the Kingdom principles.

And more...His relationship with the Father was one of utter trust and unconditional love. He said,
"Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise." (John 5:19)

Jesus repeated the same idea that He was in close and constant contact with the Father in John 5:30; 8:28 and 14:10.

That is what we want. Don't you? To have an intimate and dynamic fellowship with the Father in such a way that you are regularly having a conversation with the Lord as with a friend or a family member. You can ask him not only about the major decisions of your life but also about dozens of choices you make every day. Granted, you may not need to ask the Lord what to wear in the morning. But then, why not? At least, once in a while?

Now, if we want the kind of fellowship Jesus enjoyed with the Father, we will need to listen to God more regularly. We are discovering that God speaks directly to our hearts far more often than we have come to expect.

This is where our new journey began several years ago, the pursuit of intimate and dynamic fellowship with God as exemplified by the Lord Jesus Himself. Join us as we learn and discover how deep and rich our walk with Christ can go.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas

I love the sense of innocence that surrounds Christmas. It is pure, intimate and holy.

Have you experienced it this year?

It is very fragile. If not handled with care, it is gone. And yet it is very persistent. You cannot push it away. It is always there during Christmas. I even felt it long before I learned the true meaning of Christmas. It wants to capture your heart and imagination.

Once you choose to give your moment to dwell in it, however, it becomes a window to a different world, It's not the wonderland of Santa and elves, but it is as if you were looking into the realm of the gods or the different world like Narnia - the world that is dangerous, beautiful, adventurous, romantic and epic. It feels real, far more real than our everyday living in that it feels that this is what life should be.

The wonder of Christmas is that it has brought our world and this realm together. These two are now superimposed on top of each other to become one reality.

The noise of shopping, parties, family gatherings, special events and above all, the complexities of all the relationships involved in all our activities often drown out the whisper that calls us to this quiet place where the veil between the two worlds is thin, where you will sense this powerful innocence that was once yours.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The 4/14 Window

The idea of the 4/14 Window is not our idea (probably you figured that much). It's a global initiative to reach the critical demographic group - children and youth between the ages of 4 and 14. They are open to the Gospel. In fact, they are open to almost anything that the world has to offer. Whoever they choose to follow today will determine the course of the world tomorrow. Check the 4/14 Window Movement website for more detail.



Download the higher quality version of this video HERE

Monday, December 5, 2011

Coffee! - Reflection III

I'm dreaming of a tall machiatohhhh! Yes, the coffee was amazing! Only 25 cents for a demitasse size and about a dollar for a tall. I tried to drink as much as I could, but alas, like the sunshine you only feel its effects when it's actually there. Kaldi's is their version of Starbucks-so if you're in Addis, and need the ambiance, head on over.

at Kaldi's

I noticed how there weren't any drive-through coffee places. But then, drinking coffee in Ethiopia is for relaxing with friends, not getting your daily dose of legal stimulant! Besides, driving requires both hands and full attention-your drink would be down your front.
My first taste of the famed machiatto was at Sami Grill. We ran into some friends of Tenaye and Solomon, and they were having coffee. I asked Solomon quietly what the friend was drinking and Solomon asked him if I could have a taste!! I was so embarrassed! Asking a stranger (at least to me) for a drink of his coffee! Our American friend and host told us later that it's common for friends to share freely. I ordered one of my own. :)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Goodness of God

God is good!


If you say that in Ethiopia, people will respond by saying, "All the time!"


God is good all the time. The absolute goodness of the Father is critically fundamental to our view of God, our faith, our life and, in fact, everything pertaining to our existence! Jesus says that no one is good except God alone (Mark 10:18). In other words, God is good. Every miracle Jesus performed on earth was a demonstration of His goodness.


"Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!" (Psalm 34.8)


This past week, He let me taste and see that He is absolutely good.


One of my favorite ways of having a conversation with the Father is journaling. I write directly to Him. Then I listen and write down what I feel God is saying to me.


For the last 12 months or so, there has been one recurring topic of conversation between Him and me. What He was saying about it was outrageously good. In fact, it seemed too good to be true. “Is it really possible?” “Maybe I am making these up in my mind.” "It cannot be for me!" These were my reactions. Frankly, I doubted many times if I was really hearing God. But the same answers kept coming back to me whenever we talked about this same topic in my journal.


Then this past week, I discovered that much of what He was telling me indeed was the reality. What seemed to be too good to be true was true. I was stunned, overjoyed and humbled. Frankly, I was not so moved by the good that came true as much as by the fact that God is good enough to bring that about in my life.

That God is good enrages Satan and his forces of darkness greatly. They along with the flesh and the world will try everything to steal from us that truth in our life. Because there is so much joy, peace, freedom and strength when you can walk with the deep knowledge and unwavering conviction that God is absolutely good all the time.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor - and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me "to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."


Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be – That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks – for his kind care and protection of the People of this country previous to their becoming a Nation – for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war –for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed – for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.


And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions – to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually – to render our national government a blessing to all the People, by constantly being a government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed – to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord – To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and Us – and generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.


George Washington
(Thanksgiving Day Proclamation of 1789) taken from pilgrimhall.org.


May your Thanksgiving Day be filled with the sense of awe, wonder and humble gratitude for the goodness and love of the Almighty God, Father, Son and the Holy Spirit!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Reflection II


Dumping on the table everything that is available to the astronauts on board Apollo 13, Houston had to come up with a way to put the "square peg in a round hole".

Kim felt like that about providing children's ministry curricula that are applicable, contextualized, transferable and readily usable Ethiopian Sunday school teachers and leaders.

And they need the materials immediately.

Kim and I are gathering CE practitioners in the Greater Seattle Area to form a think-tank to brainstorm initial steps in developing a new breed of curricula that will meet these above criteria and their needs in the field. We will be dumping on the discussion table everything we experienced on our trip and ask them to come up with resources that will truly empower our fellow laborers in Ethiopia to pursue the hearts and minds of children (between the ages of 4 and 14).


Friday, November 11, 2011

In the Name of Jesus

"I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” (Acts 3:6)

Our short but full 10 days in Ethiopia opened our eyes to the magnitude of opportunities and challenges the Ethiopian Christians face. They lack resources. But frankly speaking, I don't believe the resources of the North American church are the answer, either.

Before we left, Kim was asking the Lord what her role was to be on this trip. She heard a single word, "Jesus".

Now that we saw the land, we feel we understand what He meant, particularly when the Lord brought to my mind Acts 3:6.

Indeed, we have "no silver and gold" in Ethiopia or in the U.S. that will solve their problems. But what we do have we give freely. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth...

What we bring is Jesus. What they have is Jesus. Against all odds, against all the strategies and schemes of man, against all the wiles and attacks of the dark forces, Jesus is, indeed, the only answer we need. Jesus is all sufficient and all powerful. It is all about Jesus.  

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Reflection I

We have recently returned from our two-week trip to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. This is our reflection.


We came to appreciate Ethiopian people, particularly young people. Their eyes were bright and smiles contagious. Their hearts were full of dreams and sincere desires to know and please their God. We loved their warm welcome and willingness to embrace us right away as friends and co-laborers in Christ.

They were the reason why God has called us to launch a new ministry whose mission is to bring healing, help and hope to the next generations. We want to share with them what we ourselves are learning to walk more closely with the Lord. We are learning to listen to God, to live out our identity in Christ, to fight spiritual battles, wielding our authority and power in Him, to experience the restoration of our hearts, redeeming our desires, to be fathered by God, being set free, and to follow faithfully the Holy Spirit, joining in His mission. This is the full life Jesus has promised to His people.

What a privilege to be able to work with young people to help unlock the full potential of their life in Christ!

Starting in February 2012, Acts 8 Ministries will begin providing training for Ethiopian youth to equip them in the art of walking closely with God.



Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Open Doors

God continues to open doors of possibilities.

As Kim and I get ready for our Ethiopia scouting trip (Oct 24 - Nov 04), the Lord has brought us to a number of people from whose experience and wisdom we have already benefited.

God continues to expand our network of Ethiopian connections as well. Divine appointments! Simply amazing!

We also lead at Adventure Church a community group that is focused on Ethiopia. Last Friday was our first meeting. What binds us together is, of course, Ethiopia. We shared our stories of how we have become interested in Ethiopia. Different stories but the leading of the same God! He is definitely doing something extraordinary in our midst.

Please pray for us. What we need more than anything else is the fervent prayers of His saints! We so desire to meet as many people as supernaturally possible while in Addis Ababa. More than anything else, we want to listen to their stories and know their hearts. God has given me a vision, that is, Restore the Hearts; Heal the Land. His Spirit will set the people free in their new identity in Christ, and such new men and women will bring life to their land.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Immunization

Speaking with a travel nurse, we learned that we'll need the following immunization shots before our trip to Addis Ababa (price is per person!).

Yellow fever, $99
MMR, $25
Typhoid, $50 (tablets)
Hepatitis A, $96
Adult polio, $67
Flu, $25
An opportunity to see and join the movement of His Holy Spirit in Ethiopia, priceless




Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Discipleship

True Christian life is discipleship by Jesus.

Jesus disciples us in the context of real life. Therefore, our spiritual growth takes place in real life.

"Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ." (1 Cor 11.1)

Paul could say that confidently with humility because he was being discipled by Jesus in real life. He was imitating Jesus in everyday situations, following His way, living out His truth and experiencing His life.

Our tenets reflect our desires and commitment to be discipled by Jesus, fathered by God and led by the Holy Spirit. They direct how we do our ministry. To live them out is messy and adventurous, but the rewards are absolutely phenomenal - growing in more likeness of Jesus!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Ethiopia Facts

Here is some information on Ethiopia found at U.S. State Department website: Ethiopia
CIA website has the World Factbook where you find information on Ethiopia: Ethiopia

Sunday, September 18, 2011

2011 Scouting Trip

Acts 8 will be sending a small team to Ethiopia on a scouting trip this fall as part of Project 4/14.

Dates: October 24 - November 3, 2011
Location: Addis Ababa
Team: Jonathan & Kim Kobayashi
Objectives:
  1. To plan details for the pilot program for the children's ministry training center
  2. To gather information to explore the possibility of Adventure Church's youth mission trip
Overview of Project 4/14

The project is a joint ministry of GCM and Adventure Church. It is about establishing a children's ministry training center for the equipping of local church leaders and children's ministry workers. The goal of the project is to empower the local leaders to be able to not only build a children's ministry but also develop curricula and other teaching resources for the 4/14 Window.

Adventure Church will be sending training teams to train GCM staff and other key leaders so that they can effectively train children's ministry workers in their local congregations. Another key contribution Adventure Church is to make is to provide curricula and other teaching materials and train teachers how to effectively use them.

GCM will oversee the day-to-day functions of the training center and follow up trainees through coaching and mentoring to provide adequate support after training.

Acts 8 will be the liaison between the two groups and coordinate logistics and execution of the project plan.

We are privileged to accept an invitation of GCM to visit Ethiopia and begin to build friendship and missional fellowship that will hopefully last for many generations. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Jesus Part 2

To develop a relationship, we communicate.

So, to have a relationship with God means to have a conversational relationship.

We talk to God. We listen to God. We walk with God in life. It is possible. Jesus made it possible.

Talking to God sounds reasonable. When we pray, we are talking to God. It is listening to God that sounds a bit more far-fetched. Really? A voice from heaven?

When we have trusted Jesus to be the One to bring us back to God the Father and surrendered our life to His leading and authority, He dwells in us. So, listening to God is more like listening to our inner voice rather than a voice from above. It's much more intimate and personal.

Jesus says that He is the door of the sheep. "The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice."

We hear His voice. He calls us by name and leads us out. We follow Jesus because we recognize His voice.

Yes, we can hear Him. He has been speaking to us. Perhaps, we haven't paid much attention. Perhaps, we didn't think we could hear Him. Perhaps, we don't know how. Or perhaps, we are afraid. What would He say to me?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Jesus Part 1

Jesus is sufficient.

He is the High Priest, the Prophet and the King. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
He is the image of the invisible God.
He is before all things, and all things exists in Him, for Him and through Him.
In Jesus, all the fullness of God is pleased to dwell and, through Jesus, to reconcile all things to Himself.
Jesus is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

Jesus is sufficient.

So our life, our work and our very being all start with and rest on our relationship with Jesus.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Project 4/14

Acts 8 Ministries is launching Project 4/14.

This project concerns the 4/14 Window, the next generation who are currently between the ages of 4 and 14. Ethiopia, one of the oldest civilizations in the world, is a young nation. Estimated three-fourths of its 85 million people are under the age of 18.

The objective of Project 4/14 is to provide training and resources for children's ministry leadership in the local churches through partnership with the Great Commission Ministry Ethiopia and Adventure Community Church in Duvall, WA.

Our first task is to visit Addis Ababa on October 24 - November 3, 2011 to plan for a pilot training program, which will be offered to select leaders in 2012.