Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Extending Grace in a Culture of Perfection

Imagine a boss who expects nothing by complete and absolute perfection in your every task.  Or perhaps a husband or wife -- or parent -- who doesn't just expect your best, but a standard of perfection that is really unattainable.  Could you live up to those expectations?  Just one mistake or flawed effort and they don't forgive or forget.  No one can live up to this standard, yet that is life in Japan.  We may appreciate their attention to detail in their cars and electronics, but imagine that same expectation placed upon people.  The standard of perfectionism we know here in America pales in comparison.

The pressure of living in such an unforgiving culture has a detrimental effect on the person and the soul.  I've previously discussed "the zero defect effect" in Japan, resulting in the highest rates of depression and suicide in the industrial world.  But perfectionism also is a hindrance to the gospel.  To receive the gospel, one must own up to falling short of perfection.  This is very difficult when one's culture demands living the lie of absolute perfection.  But even once a Japanese person admits to their fallibility, receiving grace from Christ is difficult as they so rarely experience grace from other people.

The Japanese people are not alone;  we also struggle with the gospel.  How often don't we feel morally superior and more deserving of God's grace than other "more sinful" people?  After falling to particular sins, don't we feel momentarily unable to face our Savior?  Will we really be more worthy in a day or two, once this sin has worn off just a bit?  Ephesians 2:5 says that we were dead in our sins -- totally corrupted, unable to do anything good.  We may admit our total depravity with our mouths, and yet our hearts refuse to accept the depth of our sinful condition.  Our human nature believes we can deserve -- or at least contribute to -- our salvation.

Do we demonstrate God's grace in our lives through our forgiveness of others?  We naturally want to see justice upon those who offend us.  Justice is not a bad thing;  God is a just God.  But, unlike God, our desire to see justice is often motivated by a desire for revenge.  Romans 12:17 says, "Repay no one evil for evil."  Then in verses 19-21, "Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.'  To the contrary, 'if your enemy is hungry, feed him;  if he is thirsty, give him something to drink;  for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.'  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."  When we truly forgive others, we demonstrate our own understanding of God's forgiveness of our sins and we model the gospel to the world.

Please pray for the gospel of grace to penetrate deep into the hearts and culture of the Japanese people.

Financial Update:
God has provided 50% of the funds needed for my return to ministry in Japan.  As my budget is approximately $8,000/month, I am looking for 20 individuals who will partner with me at $100/month and for 10 churches supporting me at $200/month.  Of course contributions of all sizes are very much appreciated, whether $5/month or thousands.  God uses each gift for His kingdom.  Would you prayerfully consider whether God has called you to join His kingdom work through Genesis International College?  Please email ( or call me (601-317-9379) if you would like to partner in this work.

Temporary Housing Needed:
I will be returning to Jackson, MS in November and need housing.  If you know of a church with a missionary house, please let me know.  I'm also interested in perhaps renting a room from another single man.  An empty house or apartment would be difficult as I have no furniture or household goods.  I hope to return to Japan in January, but can not know God's timing.

Upcoming Engagements:
  • October 6
    Immanuel Christian Reformed Church;  Orange City, IA
    9:30 a.m. Worship -- 10 minute presentation
  • October 13
    Living Hope Presbyterian Church;  Tea, SD
    9:00 a.m Sunday School -- full presentation
    10:00 a.m. Worship -- 10 minute presentation
  • October 20
    Hope Christian Reformed Church;  Hull, IA
    9:30 a.m. Worship -- 10 minute presentation
  • October 23 (Wednesday)
    Grace Presbyterian Church;  Sioux Falls, SD
    6:15 p.m. fellowship dinner
    7:00 p.m. -- full presentation
  • October 27
    Germantown Presbyterian Church;  Chancellor, SD
    9:30 a.m. Sunday School -- full presentation
    10:30 a.m. Worship -- 10 minute presentation
  • October 27
    Ebenezer Presbyterian Church;  Lennox, SD
    6:00 p.m. Worship -- full presentation
  • November 1-4
    Genesis International College Team Retreat
    Los Angeles, CA
  • November 8-10
    MTW Global Missions Conference
    Greenville, SC
Praises & Prayer:
  • My father is finished with his chemotherapy treatments.  the side effects have been quite moderate.  He has a PET scan on October 4 to determine whether any cancer is present and whether radiation treatment will be needed.
  • Praise God for many opportunities to share with Midwest churches about the vision God has given us to reach young people in Japan through the ministry of Genesis International College.  Pray that God will provide financial partners from these churches and individuals.
  • Pray that I will be able to return to Japan in January in order to have time for some full-time language study before the busyness of GIC requires all my time later in 2014.
  • Pray that God will provide housing for me upon my return to Jackson, MS in November.