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Chiba Beach

Normally, our summer break is filled with lots of fun little day trips capped off with some sort of big summertime excursion. However this year is not normal. Two weeks is hardly enough time to have a normal summer break, and with all the concerns and restrictions in place, we had nearly completely discounted the idea of a decent summer excursion this year.

But when we mentioned how much we enjoyed camping, our friends Yoshi and Takako sprung into action, finding a decent camping place close to a beach in Chiba. They know and love the Chiba area for their family vacations, and thought we would enjoy it as well. Yes, it would be hot, but we would be close by a great beach to cool down. Yoshi was excited to do his Japanese BBQ (an amazing feat, especially camping). So we blocked off a couple of days and headed across Tokyo bay to nearby Chiba for some fun in the sun with family and friends. Now we have some great memories to share!

On Making Friends

Forging good friendships is something that takes intention and work. Recently one of our subscribers contacted me asking how he could make friends. For some, friendships seem to come naturally, but for a majority of people, it’s something elusive and scary. But it doesn’t have to be scary. Here are some practical ways to make friends.

The easiest place to start in making friends is to find something you have in common. When you meet someone new, ask questions until you find something in common. The more things you share in common, the stronger your connection to the other person will be.

Recently one of our viewers reached out to me, a fellow missionary here in Japan. As we chatted, we shared so much in common it was almost scary! We could talk hours on end if time permitted. This created a strong connection right off the the bat.

So what do you do if you’re trying to make friends but don’t have much in common? In that case, or any case really, you can look for ways in which you can serve other people. Maybe you can cook them something, write them a song, or just offer a listening ear. Maybe you have a skill that can be useful to someone or something that will be of service or you can help them in some small way. Even a person who is not looking for a friend will welcome someone who blessed their life.

I have a good friend named Brent back in the States. I met Brent over 20 years ago when I began my first job out of college. Brent and I are very different people, from different generations, backgrounds and upbringings. But Brent was a song-writer and was looking for someone to help him produce his songs. I was a music producer and could meet that need. But I had some needs of my own — I was fresh out of college and had no idea how to work on my own home. Home repair was not in my bag of tricks or talents. Brent often helped me, offering his services as a handyman while I produced his songs for him. It kicked off a great friendship that remains to this day, even though I am too far away to produce his songs and he is too far away to help me with my home repair issues. (How I wish I had Brent here in Japan!)

These things will help you make friends. But the biggest thing that helps in making friends is a genuine interest in other people, and that’s not something that comes natural to us as humans because as our biggest interest is ourselves. Yes, even when we “like” somebody, we usually like them because of the feelings that they give us.

However there is a way to cultivate a genuine interest and care for other people, and that’s by making friends with God. Now this is an extremely foreign concept to many people, and some even scoff at the notion. But friendship with God is a very real thing — I know because I enjoy my own friendship with God! God blesses everyone, but especially those who are His friends. And not everyone is God’s friend. To be God’s friend, you have to believe He’s real and you have to believe that He wants to be your friend even more than you want to be His. You don’t believe me? All you have to do is look at the life of God in Jesus Christ to see the great extent God went to, crossing heaven, earth and hell to become friends with us.

Knowing the love of God in Jesus Christ opens up our hearts to not only receive his love, but to cultivate it in our own hearts, changing the way we feel, think and act towards other people. We can genuinely care for others because God genuinely cares for us, and we can do this even when other people treat us poorly. If they knew God like we did, they wouldn’t act the way that they act! God’s interest in us is not based on performance — it’s not based on anything He can get out of us. It’s based on relationship — through Jesus Christ we too are sons and daughters of God.

A newborn child does nothing to earn the love of his parents. He or she has it simply because they are a child. As they grow up in that love, they learn skills, develop hobbies and interests and turn into fully functioning adults of potential as well. But the parents’ main joy in their child is not based on their accomplishments, but on the relationship they have with their child. The accomplishments are icing on the cake of good relationships.

Good relationships and friendships are very possible. I believe the very best place to learn how to have healthy relationships is in a local church, where you will learn how to have a relationship with God and also learn how to develop healthy relationships with others. It’s a great starting point for developing healthy relationships.

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