Newsletter (Equipper)

Happy Easter!

How did you enjoy the holiday? This month, we have “Regarding Gifts” from Pastor Haruhiko Hirayu, which comes from his workshop at Equipper Conference that took place at the end of last year, as well as thoughts from Mao Shimizu about communication. We hope that you will enjoy this letter, and that it will be useful for you in your walk with God.

Please note that we have video and audio of workshops, plenary session messages, testimonies, and more from Equipper Conference available on our web site, so check it out!

Link to plenary sessions and testimonies is here. (Japanese only)
Link to workshops is here. (Some of the workshop are in English)

Discovering And Using Our Gifts

Haruhiko Hirayu,
Pastor of Orange Coast Free Methodist Church

Have you ever thought, “Wow, what a waste”? When I meet someone who is not using their gifts, that's what I feel. This short article is a summary of my workshop from EC16, “Discovering And Using Our Gifts.” First off, I want to ask the most important question. Why did God give you the gifts of the Spirit? Please think about it for about five minutes, and then write your answer in the space below.

By the way, what are your gifts? Use the “discover your gifts” question sheet and find out what they are. At the EC workshop, I had people give their first impressions of the gifts of others they met for the first time, and most of them were right. Won't you stop trying to search for your gifts? Other people already know what they are, and so do you. 

According to 1 Corinthians 12:11, these are all gifts of “one and the same Spirit,” given “to each one.” The Lord knows what He is doing, and He gives each person unique gifts. There is not one single person who does not have a gift.

In 1 Corinthians 12:7, we can see that the point of gifts is “the common good.” In other words, my gift is not just for me. If you are wondering who it is for, please look at the diagram below for hints. There are gifts that are to be used for God, others, organizations, and all people. 

When we read 1 Peter 4:10, we will realize the necessity of stewarding our gifts “as faithful stewards.” Gifts are to be developed and refined.

The theme of the gifts of the Spirit does not end with us discovering them. Finding out what our gifts are will not take us past our first step. Think about who you might use your gifts to benefit. Your gifts are not your own. For example, who was Moses' gifts for? For Israel. Moses did not say that he was satisfied with his life as it was, that he was fine with being a shepherd in the wilderness. There are people waiting for you to use your gifts.

Moses' gifts were developed and honed through his experiences of studying in Egypt, delivering the Jews, being a shepherd in the wilderness, and so on. Your gifts too will be developed through your education, training, and experiences. Let's invest our gifts for the Lord in order to develop them.

You might be familiar with the well-known parable of the talents in Matthew 25. We read that passage over and over, and so we might not be able to imagine the reactions of the people who heard it for the first time. The person with five talents gained five more. The hearers probably thought that he did well. The person with two talents gained two more, and the master praised him just like he praised the man with five talents, so the people were probably glad. So when hearing about the man with one talent, they probably expected that he, too, would gain one more, and they were probably disappointed when they heard that he buried it in the ground instead. This disappointment is what the Lord Jesus feels about us. One talent, being worth 16 years' salary, was a huge sum of money that common people would certainly never possess. The gifts we receive from the Lord are that valuable. If we don't use them, it's a terrible waste.

If you received one million dollars, what would you do? If you got a hundred years' worth of rice? What would you do if you received ten thousand minivans? That is how valuable the gifts we have from the Lord are. Hiding our talents or keeping them to ourselves is a waste. Let's use them.

Communication ~Enhancing your thoughts~

Mao Shimizu

The root “Communi” of “Communication” is Latin for “becoming one.” Most Christians living in an English-speaking area are familiar with the term “Communion,” which also originated from this root word. Also known as the Lord’s Supper, it illustrates the union of God and man in flesh and blood. Though originally one, the relationship between God and man was torn apart by sin, only to be restored by Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection.

Communication is defined today as the activity of separate entities coming together--trying to convey one’s will in the simplest way possible, and the other trying their hardest to receive it.

I often start my seminars with the question “How do you summarize communication in one word?” Almost every single time, the first answer I get is “conversation.” I then answer with another question. “Conversations typically occur between a person and another person right? Then am I able to communicate with this pen I’m holding?” Everyone will look at me with confused expressions. Assuming that you can’t communicate with a pen just because it can’t talk is rude! To the pen! I chose this pen out of the thousands of available choices and use it because I like it. It’s the same with the clothes you are wearing! You also chose the accessories, perfume, and makeup you’re wearing out of thousands of choices according to your preference before purchasing them. Even if the thing itself does not speak, we humans choose and purchase things for our own use according to colors, shapes, and smells we like. As you can see, humans are trying, to some degree, to communicate with many things that don’t speak. Numerically speaking, how much time do we actually spend talking in one day? It’s been said that on average, men speak about 1.5 hours, and women speak about 2.5 hours. Does that mean we are not communicating during the other roughly 22 hours? We can’t say we aren’t, right? The key word from now on is this: “nonverbal communication.” This represents communication without words, in contrast to communication done purely with words (verbal). It’s called “higengo communication” in Japanese. It has been said that about 90% of human communication is done non-verbally.

Humans actually fully use their five senses of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching throughout the day. The five senses themselves also do not speak, so they are nonverbal methods of communication. Also, you are not always transmitting communication because most of the time, you are on the receiving end. Another important element of communication is that meaning is in the receiving side. Understandings change depending on how a message is received. The act of communicating is the sender and receiver trying their best to mutually share as much meaning as possible of the same content.

The message that God is trying to convey through the Bible changes depending on how we receive it on our end. Are we actively trying to receive that message? And when our hearts align with God’s, it shows in our actions. Of course, there are times that those actions end in failure. When that happens, you just have to communicate with God and repeat that process over again. By moving in obedience, when you realize God’s special plan for you, you will probably cry tears  of thankfulness for the joy of being alive and forgiven.

The 15th Anniversary Central Conference is coming soon!
Date: May 27th (Sat) - May 29th (Mon) 
Place: Judson University, IL
Speaker: Rev. Satoru Nakanishi (Pastor of Japanese Presbyterian Church of Seattle)
Click here for the detail information.

Central Conference 2017 Promotion Video
Returnee Workbook for business people and family

The long-awaited new version of the returnee handbook for business people is here! In addition to information about how to prepare for reverse culture shock, it has information about working in Japanese companies, issues relating to returnee kids, child rearing, Japanese churches, etc. We hope that it will be useful for you to prepare to be witnesses for Christ in Japan. Orders and questions can be directed to the JCFN offices in North America or Japan.  
Japan: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  North America: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Join in Annual JCFN Supporting Member
The term of this membership is from July to June no matter which month you submitted the application.
If you are willing to support JCFN ministry with annual support offering of $30 (3,000 yen), you are it!
Please take this opportunity to join in the annual supporting member!!

↓↓ Sign up for JCFN Supporting Membership!! ↓↓

Join in JCFN Supporting Membership!!!
Second Level Mentor-ship Conference

Theme: "Walking Together as Imitators of God and Children of Light"

"For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light" (Ephesians 5:8)

Date:June 2nd - 4th, 2017
Place:Calvin Center 13550, Woolsey Road Hampton, GA 30228
Speaker:Rev. Ken Milhous

For more information Click HERE.

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