LIJ Episode Lives Videos

Living in the Garden of Eden

All of you who follow us and watch us, you’re a special part of our extended online family. We’re glad to bring you joy as we continue to enjoy the relationships God gave us to nurture with Him and with each other. These relationships give a solid base for difficult times, and without them I would not be the person that I am — and we wouldn’t be the family that we are!

These relationships do not happen naturally — in fact for any good relationship to work well, there has to be loving commitment to each other. The closer you get to people, the more you see all their faults. The better they can see your faults too! This is where true love comes in. The feelings of love for others often fade over time, but a strong commitment to love one another can strengthen relationship ties even in the seasons when the feelings are not there. The fruit of healthy relationships is a joy for everyone — and it makes for great videos too!

The 3 Stages of Healthy Relationships

Recently I officiated a small ceremony to celebrate 30 years of marriage of good friends of our Side and Jaquie. They asked me to lead a ceremony and share a word about marriage so that they could invite their close friends and family and renew their wedding vows. I shared about the 3 stages of a healthy relationship, of which they exhibited.

Relationships (especially marriages) go through three major life-phases. There’s the Honeymoon phase — the one everyone loves and often thinks is the best phase (but there’s a better one). Everything’s new and the relationship is fun and personal. Everyday is like walking on sunshine and even if everything’s wrong in the world, you’re doing alright. You’re always thinking of the other person, meeting their needs and being considerate of them. Passion is hot. We all feel like we’d like to stay here, especially when we see the next phase.

The next phase is what I call the Desert of Normality where all the passionate feelings you had for each other cool off as years and years of everyday life wears you down. Throw kids into the mix and you often reach a point where you’re not even sure if you “love” the person anymore. Yes — this is normal, and actually an essential phase for building a true loving relationship that goes deeper than feelings.

God did not intend this phase as your final destination as a married couple, but unfortunately way too many people bail out on their spouse at this particular phase, before they can even make it to the best phase. They think somethings wrong with them, with their spouse, or perhaps they married wrong. They look for fulfillment in other places (food, work, pleasure, other relationships). Anyway you cut it, eventually they think that the best phase of marriage is gone and the only way to reclaim it is to strike up something with someone new and get back to that honeymoon stage. Unfortunately this is only ever a huge step backwards and will still lead you to this second stage with the new person you married.

Research shows it takes 10-15 years for a married couple to start thinking collectively, as a couple, instead of as individuals. If you stick out the difficult phase, learning how to make your relationship work and learning how to prioritize one another even with all of life’s challenges, you eventually arrive at the 3rd phase I like to call The Garden of Eden.

The Garden of Eden was the perfect place God made when He created mankind and there was no sin, sickness, curse or sin in the world. While it is impossible to escape all of the negative aspects of this current world, we can enjoy marriage as God intended it — to be so well unified as “one” that we have a little piece of heaven in our homes. Many couples married more than 30, 40 even 50 years say that their marriages have more passion, fulfillment, purpose and fun than ever before. This is possible because they have become one.

Ruth and I are moving into this 3rd phase, and it is really wonderful. There are still plenty of moments in that 2nd phase that we have to work out, but dealing with those things properly is what sets you up for a win in the 3rd phase. You can ignore the 2nd phase altogether, but that will only leave you with a passionless and stagnate marriage, or worse yet end in divorce.

No one enters marriage thinking it will end in divorce. Everyone would like to stay at the Honeymoon stage, but that’s not possible either. But the good news is that when we do marriage God’s way, we have a promise that the end will be even better than the beginning, and that’s something to celebrate.

If your marriage fell apart, my heart goes out to you. If your marriage is stuck and you think you might not survive, know that God is for you and wants to help you throw it. God is a God of second chances, Jesus proved that as He died on the cross on our behalf, so that we could have the ultimate 2nd chance. And although you may not be able to fix past, God can give you a better future when your life is in His hands, directed by his Holy Spirit and Word (the Bible). There is always hope with God.

LIJ Episode Lives Videos

Not Your Normal Summer

I’ve always loved summer — especially summer break. It was time off school for playing, vacation and time with friends and family. This year summer vacation is very different, it is not your normal summer. It takes extra work and effort to do the same things we did just a year ago.

So how do we stay focused and positive through all of this? First of all, we are not always perfect. We have our bad days. We have our upset and irritated days. Sometimes by sure willpower you can force yourself to be positive. But the longer you have to force yourself to be positive, the sooner it will be before something snaps, and all that pent up frustration comes out. Look out when that happens!

To be truly happy, there has to be source of joy and peace inside that isn’t dependent on outside circumstances that ebb and flow. I have heard of more marriages breaking up than ever before, because the circumstances of 2020 have pushed people to their breaking points and past them! This is not what God wants for you or your family! How do you stay encouraged during this time? Read this verse and then listen to this video for our secret on how we do it.

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Bible: Letter of Romans 15:13
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The Bible tells us how easy it is to have hope

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My prayer for you is that you can also enjoy this beautiful fountain of hope, joy and peace that is only found in Jesus Christ. We need it for 2020. Our families need it. Our countries need it.

LIJ Episode Lives Videos

Behind the Scenes of LIJ

Time for something completely different — a look behind the scenes of how we produce Life in Japan! I’ve always been a huge fan of technology (A.K.A. nerd). In this episode some of that leeks out as I talk about how everything from cameras to computers come together for each episode of Life in Japan.

If you’ve ever made a video, then you have an idea of the amount of time, energy and focus that is required to actually make one. Dedication and passion are required to keep consistently producing and it’s a discipline that few can truly appreciate. Even though I’ve been producing movies and music for years, I have learned so much in the last two years due to the amount that I have been producing.

While there are certainly days I feel like I’m crazy for all this, I feel so richly rewarded to know that we are being a blessing for everyone who’s watching on YouTube, listening to our music and coming to Paz Coffee Shop and Paz Church. And our whole point of living in Japan is to bring the love of Jesus in all kinds of ways and styles. Thank you for watching and being a part of this journey of our Life in Japan!


Summer Weekends in 2020

Today the 2020 Olympic Games begin! Or, at least, they would have until corona happened. This year has been a year of learning to adapt and adjust, to make do with what we have and to make the best of every situation. The olympics aren’t happening now and things look very different than they did just 6 months ago. But one thing hasn’t changed in 2020: the weekends are still a time of resting from everyday work and recharging our batteries. It’s just the things we do that has changed a bit.

What refreshes or renews you is different from person to person — some like to sleep in (like Ruth), others like playing games, going places, hanging out with friends or just reading a good book. All of these things are good, but one of the things that 2020 has proved to us is the importance of healthy relationships with God and others. Any substitute for these things will result in an unbalanced life that quickly topples with all life’s current challenges.

For us, church has always been a big part of our weekends. Rarely do we miss a Sunday at church, but when we do, the rest of the week just feels “off.” It’s one of those habits that I recommend to anyone wanting to establish healthy weekly life patterns. It’s been proven that the most powerful tool that a psychologist has to help their patient is not their knowledge but their relationship with the patient. In the same way, our relationships to others in the church allow us to flourish even when life around us is hard. It’s in those healthy relationships that we discover more clearly who God is and how He loves us. Do you have this in your life? If not, I couldn’t recommend it more! Find a good church near you and start attending, if even online at first. See how it lifts your weekend up and sets you up for a good week.

LIJ Episode Lives

Living Well in 2020

The way you define “living well” depends greatly on your cultural background and personal likes and preferences. For some, living well could mean a life of travel and adventure. For others, it could be a meaningful relationship and fulfilling work. Yet for others it could be a life of seclusion, peace and quiet. And then there are some who think if they get famous and/or rich, they will be living the good life.

Whatever lifestyle you were pursuing, 2020 just threw a wrench into that pursuit! The world shutdown like never before (at least in modern history). And many places that were shutdown and coming out of lockdown are now entering into a second shutdown. We’re just not out of the woods yet. It seems like a good time to take a step back and reevaluate things.

A good life at home has never been so important. It’s hard enough to deal with all of the drama of society today, if you have to deal with too much drama at home as well, it’s enough to take people, marriages and families to the breaking point (which unfortunately is exactly what is happening for many families). Therefore I believe with all of my heart that those who experience truly good living in 2020 are those who have their home lives in order and work at living at peace with those closest to them.

This is why the Bible is so precious to me — it’s my manual for operation, my standard to live by, my measuring stick for the morals that I hold and teach. It is not a book of rules — furthest thing from it! It is a way to live in which we experience the fullest, richest life that God designed us to have. It is the best return for your time and effort and the rewards are not just for this life now, but will go on for all eternity. It is the way of peace and love, a way of healthy, fruitful living that is not the easiest way to live, but certainly the most rewarding in the long run.

God is the one who made us, and He made marriage and the family to be a reflection of His very own nature. The devil likes to take that and break that. The devil comes to steal, kill and destroy but Jesus comes so we can have life in abundance. Our families can stand strong when we do it God’s way, by His Word and with His own power (His very own Holy Spirit). God has not left us alone, He has not abandoned us. He is for us, He is with us, and He is with you. Try calling out to Him for help. It starts with a simple prayer “Jesus help me!” And watch what happens next… the merciful presence of God in your life, in your family, in your marriage that can lead to a good life that you never thought was possible — for 2020 or any other year for that matter!