Japan

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Yesterday at a family reunion in Bremerton WA my cousin gave me an envelope of old pictures that Andrea and I sent to his mother and father many years ago from the mission field in Japan. Written on the back of one of the old photos from 1984:

A little Japanese ‘grandma’ we met in late May, ’84. It was the first time she had ever heard the name of Jesus Christ. She’s in her 80’s. I’m not that tall (only 5′ 10″). She’s just super small!

grandma2

As I recall, Jim Morrison had been visiting us from Cordova, Alaska. He and I were passing out tracts door-to-door in the neighborhood where this little lady was tilling her garden with a hoe longer than she was tall. We stopped and talked with her a bit as Jim snapped the photos above.

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Psalm 68:4 says, “Sing unto God, sing praises to his name: extol him that rideth upon the heavens by his name JAH, and rejoice before him.”

The original Hebrew word(s) for “sing unto God” here is an expression that says to the congregants, “celebrate God in song.” While “sing praises to His name” urges the people to “make music, sing, play a musical instrument, DANCE!

The Japanese translation of “extol Him that rideth upon the heavens” is read “furnish, provide for, equip, install, prepare the way of him who comes riding on the clouds.” Cf. Japanese [sonaeru] 備える.

540952_397631096961836_2139203443_nIn Japan, gospel groups have sprung up all over the nation. I believe these groups are, in reality, furnishing, providing for, equipping and installing, in essence preparing the way for a great visitation of God’s power. Almost all of these gospel groups have in them unsaved, non-Christian participants that are unknowingly singing their hearts out to God, freely letting loose and singing to God in harmony, melody and rhythm at the top of their lungs. 

For years Christians have been too timid at going out and spreading the Gospel. Other words for “timid” in Roget’s Thesaurus are: apprehensive, fearful, easily frightened, faint-hearted, nervous and scared. These are relatively polite ways of saying what follows in Roget’s rather shocking list of adjectives: wimpish, yellow, chicken, mousy, gutless, sissy, lily-livered and weak-kneed.

Some people may think that unsaved, non-Christian people should not be singing such sacred hymns as “What A Friend We Have In Jesus.” Some people may think it a violation or misuse of what is regarded as sacred, but I would like to counter that with something Jesus said:

“And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out. Luke 19:37-40

Jesus began descending the mount of Olives more than 2000 years ago into Jerusalem. The multitude of His disciples were preparing His way into the city with a great and splendid celebration of praise. Today in Japan (and around the world) the Holy Spirit is descending into the lives of Japanese people and churches. Silence and “timidness” has been like spiritual Pharisees telling the Holy Spirit to rebuke the celebration of praise. The Holy Spirit would say exactly the same thing Jesus said way back then: “I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.

The Gospel groups around Japan who sing their hearts out are none other than “stones” rejoicing and crying out praise to God as His Holy Spirit enters the nation of Japan. Plus . . . they are being fashioned into diamonds as they are being dug out of the traditions, customs and culture of a nation held in darkness for centuries upon centuries. 

We’ve all sung it before, so let’s sing it again, okay? It’s called the “Doxology,” or a liturgical formula of praise to God. It’s powerful, it will rock the place when sung from your heart.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Him all creatures here below. Praise Him above ye heavenly host. Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. A-men.

Look at what else the Bible says about praising God:

Psalm 59:16. But I will sing of thy power; yea, I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning: for thou hast been my defence and refuge in the day of my trouble

Psalm 149:5. Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds.

Isaiah 12:5-6. Sing unto the LORD; for he hath done excellent things: this is known in all the earth. Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion: for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee.

Isaiah 24:14. They shall lift up their voice, they shall sing for the majesty of the LORD, they shall cry aloud from the sea.

Isaiah 49: 13. Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the LORD hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted.

Zephaniah 3:14. Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem.

Zechariah 2:10. Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the LORD.

You wanna bless and thrill God?  Make up your own melody and try singing this acappella!  Psalm 150:1-6

 Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness. Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp. Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals. Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.

—photo from New Wings Gospel Choir Facebook photos

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Shinobu TANOUE  sings Psalm 16:11 from the Classical Version of the Japanese Bible. This ancient style of recitation would be very difficult for westerners to master, but for Tanoue-san it is almost a hobby. Please enjoy this 54-second audio clip. Here are the words to follow as you listen:

なんじいのちの Nanji inochi no みちを michi wo われに ware ni しめし shime shi たまはん tama wan なんじの nanji no みまえには mimae ni wa みちたれる michi tareru よろこび yorokobi ありari なんじの nanji no みぎには migi ni wa もろもろの moro moro no たのしみ tanoshimi とこしえに tokoshie ni ありari

“Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore.”

http://munakatabethel.com/audio/mrt-psalm.mp3