On my college ministry group page on Facebook, someone asked,

What makes being a Christian so great, and why should a non-believer believe in God?
(You can’t say it’s cause you get to go to heaven)

And so I answered

Being a Christian is so great because it’s about having a personal relationship with Yahweh. He loves you so super duper much, and He’ll do anything to prove His love for you. As you lean on Him, and trust in Him, you learn more and more about who He is, and thus ultimately who He has created you to be.
To answer the last question, as part of the process you cannot help but love the people around us. We are all made in Yahweh’s each image, each a different facet of who He is. If you are to love Him, you are to love each individual around you because they are a reflection of our Creator. You receive Yahweh’s love, love Him back, and then pour it out on everybody around you.
Of course this explanation sounds very idealistic, it is the (an) ideal after all. There are challenges and obstacles along the way. We wrestle with Yahweh and our lives. We rebel and turn the other way. But He is always there, He will never let you go. Even when it seems that all is lost, He is there. He will always be there.
And that is (part) of why it is so awesome to be a Christian because the love of Yahweh, the love of the Messiah Yeshua, is so much more wonderful and joyful than anything you can physically see. (And He reveals Himself physically in many ways every day, but that’s a different topic for another day.)

If you read all of that, cool.

But I have more to say than just that. Actually, it times perfectly with an essay I am starting. There’s a writing contest for my school, and the prompt is a quote from John Muir.

“Most people are on the world, not in it — have no conscious sympathy or relationship to anything about them — undiffused, separate, and rigidly alone like marbles of polished stone, touching but separate.”

How is this related to my Facebook discussion? Well, after looking up more about John Muir, Yahweh gave me a really awesome idea. John Muir was a nineteenth century environmentalist, known as the Father of National Parks. He was also an avid evangelist, and he believed that nature was proof of God in many ways. He was also part of the evangelical movement to throw away tradition and go back to the scriptures. (Sound familiar?)

My thesis? Yahweh (God) created the world and man in it to function in a specific way in relation to Yahweh, the natural world, and our fellow man, and when we function in that way there are abundant blessings upon blessings, but instead of heeding Yahweh’s loving commands, we have turned away and decided to do things as we see best, resulting in a selfish people, dedicated to our own needs, and neglecting to foster a good relationship with Yahweh, with nature, or with each other, leaving us touching, commingling, but ultimately separate identities, not part of a whole.

Okay, that is a really long sentence, and a wordy thesis. The thesis I turn in will probably look different, and be much more refined.

I will divulge parts of my ideas and probably parts of a final draft on here as I go along. Tomorrow I will give a fuller outline of what I have in mind, although it is still very rough at this point. But to connect back to my opening section, ideally, (keyword:ideally) if, as a Christian, you follow Yahweh as He intends for us to follow him, then bit by bit you become less like a piece of stone, touching but separate, and more a part of a whole. You will slowly feel unity with Yahweh, with nature, with other people. I am far from reaching full unity, and I won’t until Yeshua comes again. But I definitely feel that this topic is something that Yahweh has put on my heart to write, even if I don’t win the contest.

Look for more tomorrow. Shalom!

Oh, and PS about the second part of the question? A non-believer should believe in Yahweh because He smote the Egyptians and rescued the Hebrews in a mighty way. Enough said.


Germans, and an Austrian

I wrote a symphony today. Just kidding, I wish I had. Really I was just playing the third movement of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. You that part where it stops being all crazy and the top hand plays a simple melody? Yeah, I was thinking that’d be a nice for a violin. And the bottom hand played by a sweet cello, or maybe even a double bass. Mmmm…

Is that how Mozart felt? Writing a piece without even trying it out, the melodies just weaving through is head? Oh, an oboe sneaks in and steals our hearts here. The soprano will sing about her cheating husband here…

I love Bach. My mind just goes and my fingers play away mechanically, as if I’m a piano automaton and you’ve put your 4 quarters in. I sometimes play an invention over and over again. I hope I don’t annoy anyone. It’s soothing to me.

I had dreams of composing for films once. I gave up when I fell in love with Japanese. I don’t remember which came first. Did I lose confidence in my music first? Or was it my Japanese obsession? I often wonder what my life would have been like if I was in music school. Hell.

I could never do piano for money. It wouldn’t be fun anymore. So then…why am I willing and even excited to write for money?


Practice Makes

Never submit a project you aren’t completely happy with. I say never, and yet I submit projects I’m not happy with all the time. I had that thought today while practicing piano. I was messing around like I do, and usually when I mess around I find a chord that was just waiting for me to find it and make a song out of it. I was trying to create a chord structure around it that complimented it, but with no success. And then I had that thought, about not presenting an unfinished, unperfected product. I say unperfect because an uncompleted creation is an unperfected creation.

I’ve written a few songs this year, but only one has made me almost as happy as the one I wrote last summer. I still want to work on this new one. Half the lyrics are awesome, and the other half is just good. The piano too is exciting in some parts, just good in others. Imogen Heap went through thirteen different versions of “Tidal” over the course of a year before she was happy with it. Wow. I think I need to follow her example and spend that much time on something I create.

However, I have a tendency to write a first draft, call it good enough, and turn it in. And you know what? If it’s for a class I usually get a decent grade. It depends on the teacher, but without trying I hardly get lower than a high B. I hate it. Please don’t stop reading because I cry over B’s. No, what I’m saying is that I hate looking at a good grade for a paper I know could have written better. One of my professors this semesters is a very nice grader and gave me an A++. I told mom I wanted to argue for a more honest grade, but she told me that would be an act of pride, not humility. I was confused, because I thought asking for a lower grade would be an act of humility. Instead, she said, I was not submitting to or respecting my professor’s authority. God puts people in authority above us for a reason, she said.

What is pride? What is humility? I’m still trying to figure that one out, where pride starts and humility stops. Yahweh says that we are perfect in Christ. But what does that even mean? How can I be perfect when I make so many mistakes? There’s this Reality of Duality, as my teacher like to say. Another way to say it is there are facts and truth. The fact is I am imperfect. The truth is that I am made perfect by the work of Yeshua. It doesn’t really make sense to me, but that’s okay. If you think you fully comprehend an aspect of God, you’ve got it wrong.

So maybe that means that humility is accepting the work that Yahweh already did, but pride is asserting I can do it all on my own. That means going into projects asking Yah for help, because He has already blessed me with the ability to write it.

This blog post kind of digressed a little bit, but I think that’s okay. 🙂


The In Between

I have impeccable timing. I have finally started blogging (again), but my study abroad trip is nearly over. Blogging from the beginning would have made more sense, and I did try to keep a vlog, but that turned out to be too much of a hassle. (Japan is not as wired as I thought.) It was all for the best though, because this year has been so crazy, I don’t know how I would have had time for a blog. And hopefully by the end of the summer I can learn how to crank out a 500 word entry in under 30 minutes, so I can continue writing when school starts back up again.

So anyway, as I said I’m at the end of my trip. It’s a very strange place to be right now. I’ve had a wonderful year, full of wonderful people and experiences. I have learned so much about people, about Japan, and most importantly about myself. My Japanese grows better every day, and I fear that I won’t progress as much back home. Just today, I was walking home with my circle members (a circle is a kind of club) and thinking about how I’ll miss hearing Japanese every day. I love listening to people speak around me. Back in September it was stressful, but now I understand most of the conversations with ease.

At the same time, however, I’m ready to go home. I have the best boyfriend in the world waiting for me. We only started dating six weeks before I left, so most of our relationship has been long distance. But actually I’m really grateful for it because we have grown closer in so many ways that would not have been possible otherwise, and I appreciate him more, now that I’ve had to go nine months without immediate access.

I’m also excited to cook for myself, and to cook with American produce. I learned I’m gluten sensitive this year, so I look forward to learning how to cook gluten-free. Oh, and I want to eat Kosher. (I don’t want to eat Kosher as defined by modern Jewish dietary laws, but I’ll probably explain that some other time.) It sounds complicated and hard to do, however I’m pretty sure I can solve most of my problems by eating paleo. (What is paleo?) Basically it means sticking to natural, unprocessed foods. I’m actually so eager to start a paleo-lifestyle that I fantasies about all the vegetable cooking I want to do.

All the other reasons I’m ready to go home are not really worth mentioning here. What I really want is to be able to have all my friends and family, an American grocery store, and live in Japan. But, what’s the fun in that?