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A Christmas Story

Christmas in Japan can be different, special, amazing, one of a kind and in some cases a once in a lifetime opportunity!

Sometimes it can feel totally unexpected and quite often being so far away from home, can leave us feeling lonely.

But it doesn’t have to be, this Christmas why don’t you try something different…

On Sunday 11th December, Jesus Lifehouse Osaka, is hosting its very own Christmas production!

There will be Gospel music, dancing, and a
bilingual Christmas story
like you have never seen it before!

The event is FREE at Kodomo Bunka Center near Nishinaghori station. We have two showings at 2pm and 5pm.

Someone will even meet you at the station (exit 7) and go with you!

It will not only be a great show, but you will have the chance to meet people from all over! Everyone is incredibly welcoming – so come and meet new people! Make new friends! And…

You never know you could be spending your Christmas with people you never expected!

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“When I…”

“When I …. ”


It’s so easy to say.


When I’m happy… I’ll start being nice to people”, When I get a job, I’ll start being responsible with money.”, ” When I get promoted I’ll start tithing or giving money to charity.”,When I get out of this country, I can start being who I want to be.” When I get married, I’ll be happy,”
“When I’m happy, I’ll start truly living.”


When,
when, when!


We can make so many ‘
when’ resolutions that we end up constantly living in the future and not cherishing what we have now.
I used to be like this a lot, it was always about the
‘when’s’, I promised myself, “When I get a good job, I’ll start saving” – but when I got a job I started spending more! I said “When I get a boyfriend I will feel secure and happy”, but I only got more insecure and more unhappy!
I said “
When I move to Japan I will start eating healthily”
, but when I got here I didn’t know my udon from my soba, so I just ate whatever I could lay my hands on!
I was forever
living in the future, and not taking care of what I had, then and there. I was constantly living for the next big thing to happen to me, to make a change in my life.

I could have easily started saving just a bit of money, I could have placed my security and joy in God rather than a boyfriend, I could have started eating healthily, but instead I decided to wait for the when!


Sometimes the
‘when
‘ never happens… Or if it does, it doesn’t turn out how we expect and we are left disappointed!

We make
vows to make ourselves feel better, in a hope that what we long for will come to us, and what we
really, really want will just fall straight into our laps.
We feel we don’t deserve it so we try and justify our desires by placing
‘if’ and ‘when’s
‘ in front of them!
But sometimes we need to remember,
God wants to fulfill us and give us what we need, he does want to
satisfy the deepest desires of our hearts.
But first he wants us to take a look at what’s in our hands now.
He wants us to
be faithful in what we have now.


When we are faithful in the small things God is going to give us the big things, but he needs to know we are ready!
So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time He will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.
-1 Peter 5:6-7 (NLT)


I was forever making “
when” ultimatums for myself or trying to push forward in my own plan! But I didn’t need to depend on all the when’s in my life for happiness! I need to depend on God and trust that he will give me the
‘big things’. I don’t need to go shopping for them myself.
We
can be happy with what we have now, make the most of it, learn new skills, be thankful and live with a great attitude, preparing our hearts for what God really longs to give us!

God IS going to lift us up, but the question is are we ready?

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

We all have a part in it!!


Japan is a crazy place, sometimes there are so many weird and wonderful things going on here!
Everyday never ceases to amaze me!
But the
best thing about Japan, us by far, without a shadow of a doubt – the people!
From the Obachans i bump into in my neighbor hood, to the little kids I teach everyday at school
everyone is different,
unique, intricate and wonderfully made!

I love the people of Japan!
I love
talking to people I meet on the street, people at school, people lost looking for directions, junior high school kids wanting to practice their english. From the girl who runs on the treadmill next to me, at the gym, to the woman who sells me my onigiri every day, they all have a
different story, some hard, some tough, some incredibly heart wrenching – but all of them have one thing in common, their lives can be changed!

I want to see their lives transformed, to be given the opportunity to be lifted out of the situations that are holding them down, to be able to live with passion, vision and be filled with more love than they could imagine possible!
That all starts with one thing,
Jesus!

But most of them have never heard of Jesus… that however, is changing.
This weekend our church
baptized 4 beautiful girls who had their lives changed by meeting Jesus!
They all told their stories of how they had gone from
shy, quiet girls – to confident women filled with passion and vision!
They talked about how their passion for Jesus and for life had been rekindled and that they could have a
real relationship with God – a relationship leading to a better future and towards the plan they all believe God has for them!
These girls were
shining, happy and glowing with Gods love!
All of them were so thankful to our church,
Jesus Life house and Life group leaders who had encouraged them to grow and grab hold of their lives and start living for Jesus! All of them so happy their lives had been transformed!
And this is just the beginning…


Jesus Lifehouse
has seen people who have gone from hating themselves, from depression, from being at the point of ending their lives – too finding a life full of hope, love, vision and joy, with Jesus at the centre!
Japan is at a time of change and that means people’s lives can change too!
We are where it starts, I’m so excited to see more people meet Jesus, hear about how amazing He is and receive His love for the first time!
We can be a part of it!
It all starts with the people around us in our everyday life. The person you sit next to on the train everyday, the check out girl at the conbini, the woman who does your hair, your Japanese teacher, your students, you friends, the people on the street!
There are thousands of people in Japan who if they heard about Jesus would say
they want in!

After all who would say no to being offered the best life possible!
We can help people
find answers and healing in Jesus!
We all have a part in it!
These everyday people, all have things going on in their lives, a lot of them haven’t met Jesus – but through us they can!

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Posted by on November 17, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Love the Place you are in!


Being a foreigner in Japan, can mean it’s very easy to get sucked into the negative complaining about it – the everyday
nit picks that just drive us nuts!
Being surrounded by other foreigners who are in the same boat – the
‘Gaijin’s boat’ sometimes, only accentuates this!
Yes, it can be
tough living so far away from here, sometimes just plain frustrating – there’s the
language barrier, the cultural barrier and sometimes just the everyday mishaps that we can find ourselves in the middle of!
But besides that
Japan is an amazing country – different from any other, full of beautiful scenery, fantastic people, an intricate language full of different dialects, a definitive culture, incredible food – of uncountable varieties, the home of Anpanman and AKB48, Full of onsens and shinkansens, soba and udon, maple leaves and Sakura, everything that comes in green tea flavour! There’s temples and mountains, okonomiyaki and takoyaki, tatamis and futons the list could go on!
Japan is
describable and totally
indescribable
at the same time –
I love it! And even when it drives me nuts, I still love it!
They thing is I didn’t always love it, there were times when I did let all those little things get to me! Others were complaining, so I did too! But complaining about where I was didn’t leave me satisfied, it didn’t get anything off my chest, it just made me want to
run away from Japan!
As soon as I decided to change my attitude – looking towards the good things, the things I liked about this country, I started to love the place I’m in!
It doesn’t matter where we are, what our situations are – we are placed here for a reason,
God has an amazing plan for us here!
So instead of trying to run away – or wishing we could be somewhere else, a sunny beach in
Hawaii
maybe? Why don’t we try and enjoy where we are now! Find things to love about the place we are in now!
Rather than counting down the days till we can move on, we can
count the number of amazing things we can find in the place we are in!
Chances are if I had just run away from Japan when things got tough, or when I found myself lost on a wave of negativity about the country I would only have ended up somewhere else – maybe in a different boat, but sailing in the same pattern of negative, dirty, complaining, towards a life of
un-enjoyment and unfulfilled wishes!

Loving the place we are in now means we can live with more
joy for life,
more vitality,
experience more things and accomplish more! We can live up to our potential in the place we are now, we don’t need to keep running off to different places!
God has a great plan for you where you are right now, he put you
there for a reason!

Yes, maybe we will move on in the future, maybe we won’t be in this place forever – all the more reason to enjoy it now!
So rather than thinking of all the bad things that could happen to us in this place, let’s start living the plan God has for us in the place he put us – you don’t know what it is? Well it can all start from
loving the place we are in!

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If Today is all we have…

“This is your life, are you who you want to be?”
There are times when we question, what are we
doing? Are we living how we dreamed we would? When we look in the mirror do we like what we see?

I listened to this song today by Switchfoot, and it made me realize that we all need to be reminded to really live sometimes. Part of the lyrics go like this, “This is your life, are you who you want to be? This is your life, is it everything you dreamed it would be?”. We can easily get lost in the in’s and out’s of life, sometimes so lost we never really recover! But we need to climb out of the cocoon of life and start living!

http://youtu.be/5LJPHKfnmRk

So many people say “Today is all you have…” and “Tomorrow may never come” and many people take that as, let’s live it up now! No regrets!
Take that bungee jump, move to America, go home with that girl/guy! You may not get the chance again!
In some cases this seems like sound advice, what are you waiting for, start living kind of advice! But Whilst that
might get people up off their couches it’s no use if people are just going to party, have fun and live like there is no tomorrow.. Because
if tomorrow comes, we may not be feeling so great… Maybe even a little hung-over!
However we can look at
‘today’, another way, rather than saying ‘ if today is all we have, what haven’t we done on our list of things to do that needs to be attained to?’ We can say ‘ if today is all we have, are we who we want to be?
Are we
living in truth, or are we
hiding behind the worlds mask? If we haven’t accomplished our dreams yet, are we living with them in mind or have we already given up on them? And if we aren’t who we want to be, why?
Sometimes we think it’s too late to change, to start living, to be the person we want to be! We have come this far as we are, maybe that’s all we are…but is that true?
It is if you believe it!

Before I came to
Jesus Lifehouse I thought the old me was all I could be, but I was wrong, when I met Jesus I realized I had so much more potential to become a better me! I started living like there was no tomorrow not because i thought there was no tomorrow but because I wanted to suck in everything that there was now! I wanted to become a better me, now! Why because I loved life again! I love living with Jesus, with Jesus guiding me and loving me, I have more freedom than I could ever give myself, freedom and potential to be more than myself! Who wouldn’t want that?
Jesus gave me life again! So for me living everyday like there is no tomorrow isn’t about cramming in a load of things I want to do before I die, it isn’t about living it up, or living a care free life, it’s not about parties or boys or experiencing everything I possibly can but it’s about loving life, loving people, loving Jesus – with everything I’ve got! This life we have is amazing! So let’s live it!
Yes, there are always sucky things that may happen! My life didn’t suddenly become perfect with nothing going wrong because I met Jesus, but my
attitude changed
– your life can only ever be as good as the attitude you label it!
While I knew this before I met Jesus, it was practically
impossible for me to always remain positive in life on my own merit! I couldn’t do it by myself! No sooner had I challenged myself to stay positive and enjoy life, then something bad happened and I felt ten times worse than i did before!
But now I have
Jesus to guide me, lift those heavy weights off my shoulders, show me a better way to do things and fill my life with blessings (what are they? Things I couldn’t even imagine for myself a year ago!)
While I may not be who I want to be, I am well on the right road – living towards my dreams with the person I want to be sharing my life with!
Jesus.
We only get one shot at life! But with Jesus we can have another chance to live – really live! It doesn’t matter whether we have messed up, whether we are going in a totally wrong direction in life there is never a better time to turn to him than today!
Because this is not a video game, it’s not a movie, it’s not some reality TV show, this is your life!
The question is:
are you who you want to be?

 

“I need to find myself!”

“I need to find myself!”
Have you ever found yourself saying that? I know I often have “
I want to find myself“I’m going to university to find my direction in life “
I’m going to travel around Europe and see what it is I want to do with my life”
“I’m going to Japan to find the real me!”
Those words have come out of my mouth a lot! I spent a lot of time running around chasing myself!
Where did I think I had gone?
Well I wasn’t literally trying to find myself, but more along the lines of, I wanted to define who I was!
I looked in so many places, to so many
people, even to
material things, to try and work out who it was that was inside of me, to put a label on myself and finally realize where I was going, what I was doing with my life and who I was!
I went to university thinking I could become me, develop into the adult Laura, instead I found parties and alcohol and ended up letting others define me as ‘Party Laura’ – what else could I do but live up to that name, I thought, maybe that’s who I am!

But that wasn’t who I was and it wasn’t who I wanted to be, no where close!
So then I went to Japan, in the hope that I could expand my horizons, broa
den my views
create an adventure for myself that would define me! Instead I entered into the world of relationships and boys, and I let them define me, I couldn’t find me – so I clung onto things around me to make me seem more intriguing and interesting, to give me character!
But instead people ended up calling me fickle, because in my exploit to find the real me, I flitted from one thing to the other!
So in the end I never did find myself!


Looking for
myself, through myself and by myself wasn’t going to get me anywhere! Looking for things in the world to boost me up and make me, me wasn’t going to help either!
There was only one place I could look to define me and that was
Jesus – he showed me the best person I could be, he showed me where i was going in life and the intricate plan he has for my life. Now I no longer need to be disappointed when I can’t find who I am in the things going on around me, because I know who I am in him!

When we spend our lives searching for who we really are and what we are really doing, we just end up running in circles and getting lost!

There are usually a few questions we ask, I came up with a few that I had been asking. Now I realize I can answer then through Jesus!


1. What defines me – what makes me, ME?

I struggled a lot with trying to find my character, I always thought I wasn’t good enough, i wasn’t interesting enough, that I needed more concrete things in my life to build my character on!
But no matter how many books I read to deepen my mind, no matter how many people I turned to, or activities I took up to make me seem like I had a more interesting character –
I didn’t feel satisfied with who I was, let alone knew what it was that made me who I was!
What I didn’t realize was I didn’t need worldly things to define me! A load of books on Buddhist philosophy or self help books weren’t going to make me, ME!
We can easily define ourselves by the world’s terms,
I’m a doctor, a teacher, a lawyer, an astrophysicist, I’m into dance or I’m in a band, i follow house music, indie music, j-pop, electric, any kind of sound!
But that’s not who we are, that’s what we like, what we do!


“Don’t become so well–adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well–formed maturity in you.”
-Romans 12:2 (MSG)


We are God’s chosen children, all of us, He wants the best for us, not the world’s best, and he can give it us, if we just turn to him and follow him!
But we often find ourselves running in the opposite direction; hoping there’s another corner we haven’t turned yet, a corner that will give us exactly what we are looking for – but
why does it always seem that there never is?!


2. Where are we going in life? What can we do?

If we are not asking what defines us we are often asking where are we going?
It can be easy in life to get bored and restless and feel we are not reaching our potential, just going about our everyday lifestyle. We want to be something, do something but we don’t know what!
When I felt like this, I often ended up taking up a new hobby, sign language, acting classes, volunteering at the local shelter, yoga, trekking, I even had a go at cheerleadering! But I never fell upon my niche in life, what I really felt I could be.
The thing was I never trusted God, I didn’t believe that he had a plan for me, I thought I had to make it, I was in control and that if I didn’t press all the right buttons I wasn’t going to end up on the right floor!
But the thing is God does have a great plan for me! Not just me but you too!


“For I know the plans I have for you, ” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. “
-Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)


His plan is not just great, it’s amazing,
100% flawless! And all yours!
All that means is that we have to trust him, sometimes that means
jumping in water that looks cold and deep and completely uninviting. Maybe we don’t want to go in the direction God wants us to but if we just give it a go, it can often lead us to new waters and exotic bays we could never even imagined going too!

3. Which door to open?

We don’t have all the answers and we are often facing minor and major dilemmas in life as to where to go, which direction and which door to open! Especially in this day and age, our choices are limitless! There is too much to choose from, but we don’t need to waste time opening “x” amount of doors to see if what’s behind it is exactly what we want. No, there is one person who does have the answers! Jesus.
I have opened so many doors in my life that have lead me to
dead ends, the wrong parties, the wrong countries, in situations I would have rather not found myself in! But now I know if I am following Jesus I don’t need to worry about finding myself in sticky situations or opening the wrong door, because he is leading me every step of the way!
Ok so if you have read this far and your thinking what if i do want
God to define me, if I do want to live in his great plan what can I do? Which door should I open?
Well it’s simple!


“In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for Me wholeheartedly, you will find Me. I will be found by you, ” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.””
-Jeremiah 29:12-14 (NLT)


We need to start looking towards a life with growth and a strong foundation- rather than an exciting adventure life that can fall apart when you face a big hurdle.
With God everything is an
exciting adventure, I didn’t believe this until I started running with him! I thought following Jesus was just a boring life of rules and regulations of things I couldn’t do, but it’s the exact opposite!
With him I can face anything because I know I have a foundation in him!
So open his door, turn to him. It’s better than any gap year, better than any university lifestyle!

If you want to know more about Jesus, if you want to open a door that leads to him, I encourage you to come to Jesus Lifehouse Osaka! Not only is it fun, you will make loads of friends, and it’s one step closer to finding Jesus amazing plan for you!

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www.Osaka.lifehouse.com

 

“….it’s none other than the house of God!”

Church.

What is it?

When you hear that word, what do you think?

I know a lot of people cringe at the thought of it. Let alone going to it. Why would I want to go to church, be judged, be put in my place, have a load of old people tell me I messed up big time. Why would I want to spend my day off going to a place like that.

Other people are anti-church maybe they think, it’s just a place full of religious phonies, who are out to exploit you and take your money.

Then there are those who don’t really have any opinion of the church, they just imagine it’s a bit of a boring place, where loads of old people gather and sing a few songs, it’s nice for Christmas and Easter but I wouldn’t want to go there every week.

Or maybe it’s just this… a nice building.

There are so many different opinions of church and what it is, what it’s about. A lot of our opinions can be swayed by other’s opinions or bad stories we have heard, or bad experiences we have had.

But I want to encourage you to just take the time to really think what do you feel when you hear the word ‘church’?

This weekend I had a long chat with my mum about church. She reminded me that not so long ago I had a very negative attitude towards church.

I believed that the church was full of people who judged you, a place where people took you at face value and didn’t want to open their mind to who you could be. I believed it to be full of fakes, who weren’t genuinely welcoming and would judge me for who I am.
Ok so I had, had a few bad experiences at university. I had tried to go to a new church with some of my non-Christian friends but instead of being welcomed I had been ignored at the back of the room, everyone was too busy to take any notice of us, and no one tried to be our friend or make us feel welcome.
After that other Christians from the church that went to my university started questioning my Christianity, making me feel unworthy of the right to be a Christian. I had never met such confrontation and for someone who was finding that life not being a Christian was just as much fun, it was the push over the cliff, so I resolved that I didn’t need church.
Instead when I saw those people around campus I created stories in my head, I imagined they were judging my lifestyle and spreading rumours about me to exclude me further from the church. My whole image of the church was as a secluded club where only the really good people where welcome, only the ones who lived lives like Jesus.
I didn’t need to go to a church to believe in Jesus. I believed inside that was all I needed. Even my friends agreed with me, “You believe, no one can take that away from you, you don’t need to join a load of snobs at church to make you a Christian.”

I believed this for many years. My friends, tried to invite me to church but I refused. My mother, tried to encourage me to go to church and find ‘a nice man’. I still refused. I was stubborn and rather than choosing to spread love, I chose to spread my obstinate opinions around.

When my mother reminded me of this, I laughed. I can’t imagine ever holding that opinion now. Granted not all churches are the same, they don’t all fall into one category. But my whole view of ‘church’ has changed. I no longer have to cringe in guilt when I hear that name.

So what made me change?

Well first of all, I gave in and decided to open my mind and try going to a church, that church turned out to be Jesus Lifehouse Osaka. But before I go there, let me explain, the real reason is my whole view of the church has changed.
This isn’t just because of Jesus Lifehouse but my whole idea of what a church should be has changed.

A church isn’t just a building, it isn’t just a place for people to hang out, sing songs and get preached at… it’s a whole lot more than that.

At the conference Pastor Steven Kaylor spoke about three components that make a church – GREAT!

The first one is key – it’s what it is all about! Without it, you just have a group of people. It’s what the church should be centred around, we can’t forget this vital ingredient.

JESUS

The wonderful, powerful, loving, caring, awesome, close, relevant, original Jesus.

In the middle of the church needs to be Jesus.

The answer to everything is Jesus.

It’s through Jesus that we can be the best person we were designed to be. With Jesus there is hope, with Jesus there is light.

Our focus needs to be on Jesus, not on each other, not on our own mess or each others mess, but on Him.

It’s simple.

The second thing about church, is life. It needs to breathe life into all its members. It needs to live and speak life.

From Jesus comes life.

Psalm 16 v 11 “You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.”

In the bible there are many stories where Jesus healed people and gave them life.

Jesus gave us life, but it’s how we use it that matters – the church can help us out with that.

Pastor Joel, compared life to a car, we drive it wherever we want it to go, but living life, driving places, going somewhere always means gas is going to get eaten up, we are going to run out of fuel and energy, time and love. But Jesus has given us a great gasoline stand; he can fill us up with gas, give us love, peace, joy, passion and more vitality to live life!

The church is like the gas station, it can do two things – change our life and equip it. We can have fun at church but it can also teach us how to live a great life, how to have great relationships, how to be successful in our careers, how to manage our money.
Instead of getting dating tips from magazines, it can show us how to have a strong foundation in marriage.

In church we can really grow and become the person we always wanted to be!

The third thing Pastor Joel pointed out is that it’s a place for us to belong; it’s our house, our family. It’s not a substitute for the family we already have but it’s an extended family that can help us grow strong.

A place where we are accepted, not judged, but loved and respected. Through Jesus we can be adopted into his family. This family will want to celebrate with us, help us in life – to create the best relationships, to have success, they will look after us and nourish us.

Psalm 92 v 13 “For they are transplanted to the Lord’s own House. The flourish in the courts of our God.”

Being in the house of God means that everyone cares about everyone!

When I went to church at university I didn’t realise that it was these 3 things I was actually looking for.

Jesus, Life and a House.

There are a lot of churches around that embody these three things, but I didn’t believe that.

When I started going to Jesus Life house, I was amazed, everyone there was interested in me, they wanted to get to know ME! They cared about
ME!

Genuinely. Not only that, but they all were so full of love, Jesus love, that they couldn’t stop
smiling and sharing their happiness with each other. I didn’t meet an unfriendly face. I had so much fun! I was welcomed into their arms!

The other thing that made me take a step back was that all these people really wanted to grow, they wanted better lives, and they were taking action towards it. They knew the answer, Jesus.

It was contagious to say the least. But from that day my view of church changed.

Now I know that it’s not just a place where people want to make you feel bad or tell you that you’ve messed up. It’s not a place for judging or taking your money.

Instead it really is a great place to make friends, have fun, find Jesus, revitalise your life and be welcomed into a family who accept you for you!

If you don’t believe come down and see for yourself!

Everyone has their own reasons for not going to church, but don’t let a bad experience put you off from trying again.

Maybe you are like I was, you believe in Jesus or a God, but you don’t think you need to go to church to continue believing in Him.

When I was not going to church, the more I refused to go, the further away from Jesus I got. In the end my relationship with him was pretty non-existent. Really I stopped believing all together, I didn’t need Jesus, I thought. Then my life became pretty dire, because the thing was I did need Jesus and I did need people to encourage me in my faith. We can’t do it on our own, but we can do it with Jesus and other people who will spur us on to be more than what we imagine to be, to help us grow and live the best life we can.

Whatever your reasons are for not going, why don’t you put them aside for just a minute and give it a go!

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Come to Jesus Lifehouse Osaka! The people are so lovely, the music is awesome and the message will change your life!
We are in Shinsaibashi on Sundays, and in Namba on tuesdays!
Check out our website!

www.osaka.jesuslifehouse.com