WWJD · 18 April 2015

The thought behind WWJD (What would Jesus do?) is a quaint, but misguided ideal of divine guidance.

It has taken me many years to come to this conclusion. Not because I am trying to justify my actions or inactions. I just know that it is hard enough to figure out what I would do in anybody else’s shoes. And asking what Jesus would do in my situation is even more difficult. Probably even ludicrous. After all, asking what Jesus would do is asking what a perfect person, who is also completely God, would do.

But just because I think that asking, “What would Jesus do?” is a silly question, I do not think the motive behind asking the question is ludicrous whatsoever.

The reason Jesus followers have WWJD bands around their wrists or bumper stickers on their cars is because they want to be obedient. They know that they can discover God’s character by reading His Word, the Bible. They know that they can find the historical Jesus who turned the world upside down. Unfortunately, they cannot really know what Jesus would do. For like I already said, Jesus was completely human and completely God. He was a perfect person and so we cannot really know what He would do since none of us is even close to perfection. Regardless of how highly we might think of ourselves.

Now, I know that there are some WWJD wrist band wearers and bumper sticker toters who have little regard for what they are asking. There are some who just want to check the box and think that they are earning their way or at least mitigating their way into God’s heart. These misguided souls are not the ones I am writing about. They are not the ones who have gotten offended that I have dissed their paraphernalia. (But they are the ones who got offended at the last few sentences.)

These might also be the people who start with the same thought that I have already given (that WWJD is ludicrous), but conclude that since they are not perfect, they are off the hook. They cannot know what Jesus would do, so they can do whatever they want. Jesus will still forgive them. Unfortunately, they are not off the hook. We all answer for ourselves in the end.

Still, there really are people who earnestly seek to do what Jesus would do. And even though they might be asking the wrong question, their hearts are in the right place. After all, they want to be obedient to the Master. They want to follow the Messiah. They want to please Jesus. Which is why they ask the WWJD question in the first place.

I would like to give these people my own perspective on a better question to ask than “What would Jesus do?”

We know that we cannot be perfect so we cannot really know what Jesus would do in our shoes in any given situation. But since we can know God’s heart, we can know what He would want us to do in most situations. We just need to know His Word and ask a slightly longer but still simple question.

Unfortunately, the simple question is not so easily made into a slogan to be placed on wrist bands or bumper stickers. It is not a question that can easily be dismissed as silly or ludicrous. It is a deep question for the true believer and must be asked every day. The question is: “Would what I decide, what I say, what I do, elicit the response from Jesus, ‘Well done good and faithful servant,’?”

People might think that this is too hard. They might believe that we cannot know what Jesus would say when he sees us do or hears us say stuff. They might complain that it is too hard to ask the question for each decision we make. But the true believer, the true follower, knows that we can know if Jesus would be pleased. He already told us how to please Him. He simply said, “Love God. Love others.” Then, He spent His whole short life showing us how to do both. He showed us and told us how to be good servants.

My whole life, I have worried that when I die, I would hear the worst condemnation of my Lord. I have worried that I would hear the words from the parable of the talents, “You wicked and slothful servant.” For those motivated by the negative, we could ask if God would give us that response to our words and actions. If so, we know what we should not do. But I do not like that thought. I cannot stand the thought of being so condemned by those words. Often, those words of awful truth.

I do not want to be a wicked and slothful servant. I want to be a good and faithful servant. So I try to ask myself whether what I say and what I do will elicit that response. I try to be obedient to the One who paid my debt. The One to whom I owe my allegiance.

I wish I could come up with a good slogan for those who need wrist bands and bumper stickers, but WDGAFS (Well Done Good And Faithful Servant) does not really work so well. Even LGLO (Love God Love Others) does not roll off the lips very well. Fortunately, somebody has come up with a slogan for our church. L3 is not a new element, it stands for “Love God. Love others. Live generously.” It works nicely for those who need a slogan. For those who want a simple reminder to be obedient to God.

I am thankful that I can know the heart of God. I am glad that I can know how He will respond to my words and deeds. Even if I do not always please Him. And even if I cannot ever truly know what Jesus would do.

© 2015 Michael T. Miyoshi

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The Cuba Gooding Jr. Incident · 11 April 2015

Cuba Gooding, Jr. licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

I am not a rabid fan of anybody, but I was recently reminded of an incident we had with a celebrity. (It was not really an incident, but it sounds more exciting than a mere encounter.)

My wife, The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi, and I recently watched a movie called Life of a King, starring Cuba Gooding, Jr. Mr. Gooding played Eugene in this enjoyable biography of a chess playing ex-con. About a week before that, we watched the movie Jerry Maguire with our kids. (Which, by the way, is not the best idea regardless of the age of your kids. There is one scene which is awkwardly uncomfortable to watch with anybody.) These two movies reminded me about our incident with Mr. Gooding at Disneyland many years ago.

Actually, it was not an incident. It was more of a sighting.

At any rate, we saw Cuba Gooding, Jr. at Disneyland when the boys were young. Thing 1 turned 14 while we were there, which means that his brothers were about seven and five. Which means that the two younger boys were not old enough to go into a public restroom by themselves. That was not where I first saw the celebrity (I thought I had seen him around the park earlier), but oddly enough, it was where we made eye contact.

Mr. Gooding was escorting what I assumed were his children to the restroom too. They were young and he was herding them around making sure they were safe. Just like I was. We made quick eye contact and each acknowledged the other with one of those almost imperceptible head nods during that herding process on the way into the restroom. It was like we were movie spies on the same team showing the audience our allegiance. In reality, we were just both being dads herding our young children from place to place in the magic kingdom.

We both pulled into the urinal stalls about the same time and I looked at his face to see if it really was him. He glanced over too, but neither of us said anything. Again, it was like that spy thing, but this time, we were both just obeying the rule about not talking to strangers. Or one of those unwritten rules about not talking to men across the dividers between urinals unless you are finishing a conversation or are related. At any rate, I verified that it was indeed the celebrity.

After we both herded our children out of the restroom (after washing our hands of course), I still did not speak to Mr. Gooding. Even though we were both waiting for our families in nearly the same location just a few feet from each other. And even though we had practically mirrored each other for the last several minutes. We pretended to be spies again instead of strangers who might have something in common and who just start up conversations.

The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi had no idea about this spy charade going on so when she met up with us, she went right over to Mr. Gooding and said, “I just love you,” as she touched him gently on the arm. He was speechless, but he smiled instead of calling security.

What shocked me, was that she had not said, “I love your movies,” or “I love the characters you play,” or “I love the fact that you and my husband are just hanging out pretending to be spies who know each other, but do not want anybody else knowing you know each other, even though neither of you have met the other. And who thought of this strange spy thing anyway? Is that just a man thing?” No. It was a simple, “I just love you.” I was not jealous or anything. I was just shocked at her word choice. So much so that they are forever ingrained into my brain. Even today I can still hear those words. “I just love you.”

Throughout the years, The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi and I have talked about the Cuba Gooding, Jr. incident. She has given up arguing about what she said. In fact, she does not have any regrets that she got into the space bubble of a celebrity and declared her love. She even remembers the two-second encounter with fondness. And a sigh.

Regardless, I am still not jealous. I only regret that instead of keeping with the spy charade, I would have at least made some small talk before my wife had touched and talked to Mr. Gooding. Not because I wanted to meet a celebrity, but just because I would normally talk to a stranger in such a situation.

It is funny writing about the Cuba Gooding, Jr. Incident all these years later. The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi or I have told the story so many times that I actually thought I had already written it. (I actually looked back through all my Musings and found two mentions of the sighting. Those references seemed to indicate that I had already told the story.) But since I had not told the story in these pages yet, I figured I needed to do so. After all, even though I am not anybody’s rabid fan, I still like to tell the story of the brief encounter between The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi and Cuba Gooding, Jr.

© 2015 Michael T. Miyoshi

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A Magnificent Magnanimous Month · 4 April 2015

March Magnanimous is over and it was indeed a magnificent, magnanimous month. Fun was had, attitudes were elevated, good deeds were done, and funds were raised. There was even a little madness in it as well. Pretty good for just a month’s worth of effort.

Seemingly the whole student body of our modest high school was in on the fun and festivities. People donated money to various groups for various do-gooding endeavors. Canned (and other) food was donated to a local food bank. Good will and magnanimity were had by all.

To finish off the month-long festivities, the three-on-three champion was crowned in a four quarter game in front of the whole school. The game was split into quarters so that other activities could be done and so that people could report on what was done during the month of magnanimity. The game and the three-point contest after the first quarter were entertaining. It was fun watching the two teams of students battle it out on the court and it was nice to see that both staff members called on to shoot those long shots made at least one each.

At half-time, diverse groups of the school told of their do-gooding and fund raising. Their reports showed how students from different walks of life could impact their world. They showed that they cared for their fellow human beings in creative ways. And it was announced that all the groups together raised nearly (or over depending on how the report was taken) $4000 for worthy causes (outside the school).

I marvel at the time and energy the advisors and their students put into such endeavors. I am amazed at how the student body can come together to do good for their community and the world. And I chuckle at how amusing some of those ways can be.

The last break in the game was the culmination of one of the fund raisers. The Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) had a pie sale. Actually, they collected money to see which two teachers would earn a pie in the face. Six or seven teachers volunteered and the FBLA students collected money for about a week to see who would be the lucky winners. Who would be the teachers people wanted to see get pied.

The race was announced daily as was the Be the Change drive. I was not as in tune to the pie drive because I had not volunteered to take one for the team. Still, it was fun to hear who was in the lead each day. The race was neck and neck for most of the time. Ms. Simoni was in the lead all the way up until the next to the last day. That was the day that I heard one of our teachers donated thirty dollars to one of our other teachers to get Ms. Simoni out of first place. The donation dropped her to third and it looked like she was going to be safe.

It was interesting to see three chairs and pies sitting on the gym floor at the other end of the basketball game when we all entered the gym for the final day of March Magnanimous. Ms. Simoni was sick with worry. She was having second and third thoughts about volunteering for the pie in the face. Especially, since the voting (with dollars and cents) was so close throughout the competition. She wondered if the rules had been changed. If she would get the pie even though she was third. That third chair and third pie gave her fits throughout the whole assembly.

Her worries were indeed well founded, for it was announced that the race was so close that they decided the top three teachers should get pied. Three pies were indeed smeared on the faces of three teachers. There were cheers and roars of laughter at the spectacle. Great fun was had by all. Except Ms. Simoni, whose perfect hair and makeup were mussed and mangled by her pie.

After all the fun was over, unnamed sources confided that the voting may or may not have been quite as close as was announced. Regardless. The pie madness at a celebratory assembly was a magnificent way to end March Magnanimous.

© 2015 Michael T. Miyoshi

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