My favorite view
Sorry everyone, life got away from us and we made zero posts in March!
Just in case you haven't forgotten about us in the lull of posting, I promise we haven't been sitting idle.
Beth is preparing for boards exam to become a doctor.
Jethro is rolling, rolling, rolling.
I have been living in the library writing a paper on Speech Act Theory and Christ the Logos. (I'll post that in May...when it's done).
In the meantime, I try and post something every Thursday here on out. Think of it as "Theology Thursday"!
Winter is here, literally (we got a wood stove to help fight the cold!) and figuratively...the Fall semester is over, but so is Beth's maternity leave. Going back to work was an emotional day, and long call days as a medical resident make it extremely hard on mom since she just wants to spend time with her baby. God is sovereign and he has given us glimpses of why we must endure this season, but be praying for Beth and Jethro during this winter of work.
Nana Yardley and Aunt Coe (pictured bottom right) came this week to help us adjust to our new life with little Jethro. Nicole applied her photography skills to help us create Jethro's birth announcements, but for those who can't wait for a physical copy can see some of the many great shots that she took! Plus a few of Jethro's dad being goofy.
More pictures of Jethro by popular demand! Coming home and being held by happy grandmas and grandpas.
God has given us the gift of Jethro Naito Yardley! Beth and Jethro are healthy and doing well. He is 7lb 8oz and 19in. long! We're tired, but overcome with joy. Above are some pictures (the blood on my shirt is from cutting the cord). Below is the full explanation of this little man's name!
Jethro is named after Moses' father-in-law (Exodus 3:1), which literally means "his excellence" in Hebrew. Beth and I wanted a Biblical name for our son, but not a common one.
Moses' father-in-law was a spiritual man, being the priest of Midian, who became a worshiper of the one true God (YWH) after seeing God rescue Israel from Egypt - "Jethro said, 'Blessed be the LORD, who has delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians and out of the hand of Pharaoh and has delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians. Now I know that the LORD is greater than all gods, because in this affair they dealt arrogantly with the people.' And Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and sacrifices to God; and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat bread with Moses' father-in-law before God." (Exodus 18:10-12, ESV).
Jethro was also a wise man who counseled and advised Moses himself on how best to shepherd the people of Israel (Exodus 18:13-27, ESV). And if the author of the Torah and God's chosen vessel to lead His people, Moses, "listened to the voice of his father-in-law and did all that he had said" it seemed good to us also to bestow such a name upon our own son, who we hope will also be a wise spiritual leader in Christ's Kingdom.
Moses takes his leave of Jethro by Jan Victors, c. 1635, from the incident in Exodus 4:18. Jethro is seated on the left, in red.
A memorial in Japan to Naito Yukiyasu
Jethro's middle name is a Japanese family name pronounced "nigh-to" after Naitō Yukiyasu, a Japanese samurai from the 16th-17th Century who was baptized as a Christian in 1564. However, he returned to Japan in 1604 under the rule of Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu who outlawed Christianity. He was proud about his faith in Christ, even modifying his armor to incorporate the cross (pictured below), and was thus persecuted for his faith being exiled to Manila in 1614AD.
The two kanji (above) literally translate as ‘inner wisteria’; a name taken by two branches of the northern Fujiwara clan. One is descended from the famous warrior Hidesato (10th century), the other from Michinaga (966–1027), the statesman who took his family to its greatest heights of power, and on whom the main character of the classic novel Genji monogatari (‘The tale of Genji’) is based. The hirigana spelling would be うちふじ.
God has given us a love for the Japanese people, who desperately need to be reached with the Gospel of Christ. Beth and I wanted to reinforce God's calling (for all Christians) to His mission to reach all peoples with the message of His love on the cross.
Naito Yukiyasu's reassembled armor. The round looking "buttons" bear crosses.
It's hard to summarize all God did in my life and the life of those we interacted in a concise manner, let alone give a snapshot (I took over 1,000 pictures). Here is a quick photo book providing a taste of all we did in July.
We planted a lot of Gospels seeds in Ube and watered a lot of seeds in Ishinomaki. Our pray was that God would use our time and our labor, and we feel that He has honored that. Here is one testimony from a missionary in Ube that touched my heart:
- "Praise the Lord for Chuck, Brian, and Brett's visit and time they had encouraging deeper discussions with the people they interacted with in Japan. Since, some of my students have opened up a little more to casually asking about the Bible. "
Ube city held its annual festival with over 10,000 rockets. Choreographed to music in 6 bouts it was quite the performance.
However as the fireworks (or fire flowers as the Japanese call them) burst over the bay flashes over the oceans horizon occasionally catch your eye. You'd look, but it would be gone and your gaze would be once again captivated by a burst of orange and purple. Then the distant flash would occur again way off to the right. It was heat lightning firing through the clouds over the pacific ocean.
Now there is a choice. To watch the nonstop razzle dazzle of man or wait for the arcing lightning jump through the clouds. It felt weird to think that by watching the fireworks display worth thousands of dollars I was somehow missing out, but I waited patiently staring out at a black horizon missing hundreds of fireworks. I wasn't disappointed. What I saw and most of the crowd missed was two arcs of purple and orange lightning crisscross as they lit up two cumulonimbus clouds.
In a way I think following God can be a lot like this competing display. The world will never cease to strive for our attention with seemingly attractive displays of beauty and desire. However in the end the enjoyment is short lived and all that remains is a lot of smoke and ringing in your ears. Worse, it distracts us from God and what He is doing in the world, which like the heat lightning was infinitely more powerful and more beautiful. But we have to let the desires of the world pass us by sometimes in order to wait on God.
In this way Jesus' use of Isaiah strikes home in Matthew 13:14, "hearing you will hear and not understand, and seeing you will not see and not perceive; for the hearts of this people have grown dull." God is moving and working in the world, but we've become so distracted with daily things that we miss it.
To drive the illustration home, one of the festival displays of fireworks was to remember all the lives lost in the tsunami. The song to which the fireworks had been timed was none other than "Amazing Grace." It was so amazing to worship God in public with music and light that I felt my eyes moisten. But for the unreached people of Japan, many of whom refused hearing the gospel that very week, they listened on in complete oblivion.
Whether in America or Japan we must not miss what God is saying and doing right before us because we've grown accustomed to the distractions of this world (no matter how attractive they may be), for God will not disappoint.