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Shikata ga nai

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This is my last post of 2018, and I wanted to leave you with one last tidbit of wisdom gleaned from my days of working at Honda. As I have mentioned previously, the culture I was immersed in at Honda provided an insight into a totally different way of seeing things.

For example, when confronted with situations we cannot control, many of us from western cultures react in somewhat predictable ways. Sheer panic, complete indifference, or somewhere in between best describe most of us I believe.

The Japanese however have the unique ability to deal with things that are beyond their control in a very unusual manner. One can only assume that because they are an ancient people, they have learned that no matter how bad things may be, eventually conditions will improve.

They sometimes use the phrase Shikata ga nai (pronounced shee-kah-tah-gah-NIGH),which means “it cannot be helped”. As the Japanese are overwhelmingly non-Christian, it is one of the ways they have devised to come to terms with situations beyond their control.

Earthquakes, tsunamis, typhoons, hurricanes, and volcanic eruptions are all very real threats to the people of Japan. And they are all out of the control of any person.

Shikata ga nai, or “it cannot be helped” is a good attitude to have should a natural disaster strike and you are on your own. Such an attitude can help one move beyond the fault finding and blame game so common in our own society.

From the Christian perspective,there are also many things that are far beyond our control. If you doubt that, just do a quick mental review of 2018 and you will probably see what I mean.

Rather then take the approach of “it cannot be helped”, Christians know that we can call upon the Lord to help us through difficult situations.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1

As we say goodbye to 2018 let us always remember that we are never alone. Even when situations are far beyond our control, we do not have to resign ourselves to defeat.

We have a loving Savior who sets at the right hand of God, making intercession for us. He is in control of the chaos, he makes sense of the things that we cannot understand.(Romans 8:34)

Happy New Year everyone!

Ron

 

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The Secret Place

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Have you ever wanted to run away to some secret place where you could escape the pressures and stresses of this life? Someplace where no one could find you until you wanted to be found? A place of safety, where no angry voices can be heard and no one can harm you?

I imagine most of us have had those thoughts haven’t we? Who knows, maybe you have tried to find such a place, only to be disappointed when you realized that you’re still here and so are very things you want to get away from.

Most people, at least Christian believers, believe that such a place does exist and it’s in a place called Heaven. I am convinced of it, and believe that one day I will see and experience it for myself.

There’s just one problem however. To get there, you have to leave here, and unless the Lord returns there is only one way to get there, and that is by way of the grave. That’s a nicer way of saying you have to die first.

But what if I could show you from the Bible that there is a secret place of hope and peace, a place that is accessible to you while you’re still here on earth? Read on if you’d like to know more about this secret place.

1 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”

3 Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler
And from the perilous pestilence.
4 He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and buckler.

5 You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.   Psalm 91:1-6

Known by many as the Psalm of Protection, Psalm 91 speaks of the assurance we have that God is our shelter and our fortress. It speaks of the deliverance available to God’s children in the midst of hardship.

Because we are filled with his Spirit, we have an all access pass into the Presence of the Great King. Here is where we can hide under his wings, just as a baby bird is sheltered from the elements by it’s parent.

I’ve been to this secret place many times and without fail the Lord has been faithful to meet with me there. This is the place where fears melt away and our faith is renewed in the God who is the Most High.

My prayer is that if you are in a hard place and can find no one to help you, that you will call upon the Lord and ask Him to shelter you under his wings.

He is your protector, and will go before you to make a way where there seems to be no way.

Be blessed, in Jesus name!

Ron

 

God uses the ordinary to do the extraordinary

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Several weeks have passed since the devastating hurricanes in Houston, SW Florida, and Puerto Rico. The news trucks have long ago departed for their next assignment, the local newspapers have pushed any stories related to hurricanes to the 3rd page, and those not seriously impacted by the storms have returned to their normal lives.

hurricane Maria

NASA satellite photo of hurricane Maria

For the tens of thousands whose lives were devastated however, normal will never be “normal” again.

Living all but the last year of my life in the Midwest, I had never encountered a hurricane until Irma came rushing through SW Florida. Like most Midwesterner’s, I never thought much about hurricanes, as tornadoes and the occasional blizzard were the worst type of storms we had to deal with.

Believe me, my thinking has been altered after witnessing the devastation all around me, and I’ll never think of these storms the same way for the rest of my life.

To gain a better understanding of the situation, I was privileged this past week to attend a meeting of SW Florida pastors and their associates where we were to receive an update on the various rebuilding projects in the aftermath of hurricane Irma. After a wonderful fellowship meal, we were ushered into the sanctuary for a time of worship, which I have to say was much needed and appreciated.

MWOA worship

Broadway Community Church, Ft. Myers FL.

There were two local pastors there who spoke of the devastation their churches received at the hands of hurricane Irma.

To see the videos and pictures, plus hearing their first hand accounts, was a bit overwhelming to this previously “sheltered” country boy.

It was immediately apparent that it’s altogether different seeing the news on TV vs. hearing it from someone who lost everything. Listening to the anguish of a now homeless mother, seeing the tears of those rendered helpless, these are very powerful and very moving things.

Of course, many churches and businesses in the area suffered catastrophic damage, just as thousands of homes did. Trying to grasp the level of devastation to families who have lost everything is not easy to do. No wonder such a feeling of helplessness hangs over the affected areas. Can anyone blame those who ask “God where are you”?

 

The main speaker of the evening was the denominational leader for Men and Women of Action for the Church of God, who gave a riveting,”boots on the ground” account of their work in Houston, SW Florida, and Puerto Rico.

Hurricane’s Harvey, Irma, and Maria have kept them going nearly non stop, and to say this team has been busy would be quite the understatement!

His message centered around the theme of how God will take ordinary men and women and use them to do extraordinary things for the kingdom. MWOA 1

I heard powerful stories of God’s provision and care to those in need, and it was a blessing to see first hand how ordinary men and women are transformed into the hands and feet of Jesus.

This is real ministry. 

The main takeaway for me was that even though during a major disaster we sometimes feel as if God is a million miles away, or question why He didn’t stop it from happening in the first place, the truth is God is never far from us.

In this life it is very likely that we will never understand why we must endure the catastrophic events that are a part of our lives. In reality, we can drive ourselves nearly crazy trying to figure these things out.

What I have found to be most important is not the “why”, but rather knowing that in spite of the storms of life, God is there to help us pick up the pieces and rebuild. Hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, etc. are just as much a part of life as the personal tragedies we endure. Yet in spite of it all, God is still God!

Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear;    Isaiah 59:1

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.   Psalms 46:1

Be blessed!

Ron

Trusting in the Lord; hurricane edition…

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I had really hoped to get at least one year of retirement under my belt before having to deal with a hurricane, but alas Irma has other plans.

All of my life I’ve watched the effects of hurricanes from the safety and comfort of my living room, but that,unfortunately, is about to change very soon.

As I write this, hurricane Irma is a Cat 5 storm of unprecedented strength and is quickly approaching Florida. Any hope of evacuating via the interstate highway system has evaporated as I-75 is at a snails pace,and will get even slower as more people try to escape via the highways.

Anything and everything related to hurricane supplies has flown off the store shelves several times already, and a sense of panic has definitely set in here.

Of course, the weather forecasters are working very hard trying to put an accurate track on this storm, but it’s still too early to know where it will land here in Florida. As big as this storm is, I’m not sure it matters where it lands because everyone will feel its impact.

Our family is trusting God to see us through this storm,but that doesn’t mean we aren’t making preparations. An hour ago I finally put the last hurricane shutter on the house, and let me tell you, that was hard work! Especially in mid nineties temps!

The other morning I was at Walmart at 5:00 am to pick up water and batteries, and I was so fortunate to find them then. Within two hours, everything was gone. Gas stations are running out,as are groceries and other necessities.

In spite of all of this, God is still God. He’s God when the weather is beautiful, which is most of the time here, and He’s God when the storms arise. If there ever was a time when people needed a refuge from the storm, its right now.

I love scriptures that speak to the security we have in the Lord, so I thought I would share a couple of them in this post.

I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust”. Psalm 91:2

The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knows them that trust in him”.   Nahum 1:7

O Lord, you alone know what our future will be. It is you Lord that knew us while we were still in the womb, and even now you have the very hairs of our head numbered. You know where the winds originate from, and where they will end up. Our tomorrows are anchored in you O God, and in you we place our trust.

Be blessed everyone!

Ron