Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Maki's B-day

As some of you know, I do not like sushi.
My first experience, while I was still sick with
jet-lag, probably didn't help matters.

Maki, on the other hand, loves sushi. Therefore,
it was inevitable that for Maki's birthday she would
want to go to her favorite sushi restaurant!

Here was the bevy of treats that Maki picked out.

Here she is living it up sushi style!

I was eyeing the cantelope, which is a rare treat in Japan!

I had to let it go, but not without regret. :)

In the end I settled on some "chowan mushi" and a some fabulous soba.

After our splendid meal, we traveled to a worship night in Osaka. Very refreshing.
Maki had a good birthday, even though she ended up not feeling well the next day. I won't say it was the sushi!

Monday, September 25, 2006

What is "Free Will"?

Are we really free to choose anything we want? Yes, we are!
But we are not free to choose the inclination or desire that
determines what we want!

If you were standing at Baskin Robbins you have 31 choices.
You think you are free to choose any - and in fact you are,
except for the fact that you aren't interested in all of them.
(At least to the same extent!)
The fact that you make a decision means that you have a stronger
inclination or desire for the flavor you choose. If you did not
have this, you would never be able to make a decision. Our wills
are determined by what we are most desirous of. This "prevailing
desire/inclination" we do not choose.

This has helped me understand God's sovereignty and our responsibility better.
Our wills have been cut off from righteousness by the fall. Now we are
wholly desperate for God to revive us so that we can choose Him.

In trying to understand how God can be both holy and free,
we must understand that God cannot act any
differently than what he does. He is the blessed (happy) God
(1 Tim.1:11). Everything He does is the best, and this is why He
is so free! There is no conflict in His will over a good and a
bad desire. God has such freedom precisely because his will is
clean of any and all wrong desires that would keep Him from doing
anything less than what is perfect in every situation.
This is the freedom we should long for!

Once we get to heaven, we will have a REAL free will.
To not have the desire to sin anymore will be freedom to really
enjoy God! Let us make it our aim then to build more and more
desire for God! Only by this will we have true freedom to love
and to enjoy everything He has prepared for us!

May "God work in us to will and to act according to his good purpose"!
(Philippians 2:13) Overcome our wills with a holy desire for You O God!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Part 4 (final part) - My Life Story - by Mark
(Scroll down for the beginning of this story)

God had freed me and had filled with me such love, joy and peace.

After becoming a Christian I saw my brother reading his Bible and thought, “Maybe I should read my Bible too.”
As I read I couldn’t believe the difference.
Before becoming a Christian, when I had tried to read the Bible it was so hard to understand and very boring!
Now it began to make sense!
As I read the New Testament I felt that God was speaking directly to me!
“This is exactly what happened to me!” I thought.
I began to have a real relationship with God, not just religion.

This was the beginning of the most thrilling life I could imagine. As Paul in the Bible says, “I was sorrowful, but I was always rejoicing.”

I had tried to quit drinking for a year, with God’s strength I was able to stop.
I didn’t need it anymore.
God filled my thirsty soul.
Before I had become a Christian I feared speaking in front of a crowd.

I would skip speech class and get C’s and D’s rather than speak in front of others.

After becoming a Christian I realized that I had found what everyone is looking for in the wrong places.

It was a joy for me to share this great news with others.

I was able to speak in front of many groups about God.

I wasn’t nervous at all.
God has helped me overcome my fear of people.
I became less shy and was able to share with many people about my faith in Christ. Some of them also became Christians.
In receiving so much, it is natural for us to want to give to others.
God’s love and joy has become like a spring that overflows from within me.

I long to help other people know Him and His great plans for which He made us.

Through meeting Japanese friends on my campus, through the Bible and through other mission trips, God put it in my heart to come to Japan.

I wanted to help people in Japan find the full life I have found in Jesus.

6 years ago I came to Japan with the Navigators Christian mission.
At first it was very difficult to live because I didn’t know any of the language!
God gave me strength and hope to study and to start to learn, even though it was hard. But my desire was to help Japanese people know this wonderful God.
I learned a lot from the Navigators and have many friends in the Navigators but I saw something was missing

We saw a lot of college students come to Christ, but they graduate, get a job in another city and often times stop being a Christian because there is no church there.

On a trip to Kansai I was introduced to chapel and became friends with some people here.

I felt it was important to have a place for people to continue to grow after becoming Christians.

I am very happy to help people find a home at chapel now.

One of the bonuses of coming to chapel was that I met my wife here.

When I first came I started to get to know a wonderful Japanese girl named Maki.

We started to date and about 2 years later we got married. God was faithful to give me a partner for the work He called me to.

I had desired to be married, right after college; but God had other plans for me.

In His perfect plan God had chosen a wife that could be a wonderful helper in my ministry to Japanese people.

It is another story about how all that happened.

Of course I still have problems even though I am a Christian.

But now I personally have a relationship with a God who fills my heart and will never fail me, even after I die.

Please learn from my experience.

Truly there is no created thing that can compare with the Designer.

Mass media makes many promises that are simple lies.

Don’t believe them. Only God can satisfy you fully forever.

He made us that way.

You will live a empty life and die without God.

However, if we come to know God and live with Him,

Psalms 16:11 says this: “In His (God’s) presence is fullness of joy, and His right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Full living with God will never end.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Part 3 - My Life Story - by Mark

In my hurt and in anger, instead of turning back to the true God, I turned to drinking and to partying.

Through this I thought I could ease my pain and find fulfillment.
I had a lot of fun with new friends who drank a lot.
We did a lot of crazy and exciting things, some of which were illegal.
However, my heart just kept getting harder and harder.
I wasn’t sensitive to other people and I only cared about myself.
Just like I had used God, now I was using people to get what I wanted.
I didn’t like who I was becoming.
My heart was thirsty, but all I could I find was dirty water.

Often I would wake up with a hangover along with even more pain and regret.
My parents too were being hurt by the kind of life I was living.
I started listening to all kinds of bad music to make myself less and less sensitive to the pain that was in my heart.

When I got to college, away from my high school friends I realized I needed to quit drinking.
I tried for a year to stop, but I couldn’t.
I was addicted and locked into the party culture.
My twin brother Doug also was heavily involved with partying and he also wanted to change.

One day he told me that he was going to work at a Christian camp during the summer break.
He had met some Christians that invited him to come.
Of course, I couldn’t imagine why he would want to do that.
“You are not going to have any fun this summer!” I told him.
I was going to go and make lots of money and party with my high school friends,

I thought that they would restore THE HAPPINESS I USED TO HAVE.

However, when I went home, my friends were also pretty depressed-looking people
They tried to enjoy drinking and partying, but I could tell that in their hearts, they were just like me: Unsatisfied.

I worked hard that summer work and made a lot of money.
I bought a new music system and tried to fill up my heart with that.
I spent a lot of time on my physical appearance, lifting weights almost every day and buying the right clothes
No matter what I did, I couldn’t fill my heart.
Sometimes I would come home at night and just cry because I was so empty.

At this time my twin brother came back from the summer camp.
When I started to talk with him I could tell he had changed.
For the first time in our lives, we were completely different people.
I noticed right away that he had joy, peace and a wisdom that I didn’t have.

I tried to be happy, but I wasn’t.

As I went to bed that night I thought to myself,
“He must have read the Bible, maybe that is why he has so much wisdom.”
I dusted off my Bible
and prayed, “God, my life isn’t going well.
Please show me wisdom like Doug has?”

I flipped open the Bible randomly
and the first verse that I saw was Prov. 9:10.
It says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.”
I was shocked!
I had just prayed for wisdom and here was the answer!
Stunned, I read the verse again.
I realized that I had not been fearing or respecting God at all.
I prayed again, “God, I know that I am not respecting you, but please help me to!”
I flipped randomly to another page in the Bible
(by the way I don’t recommend this type of Bible study,

God doesn’t always work this way.

However, that night he was.)

The next verse said, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit whom is in you, whom you have received from God?

You are not your own, you were bought at a price, therefore honor God with your body.” (1 Cor. 6:19-20)

I had learned, like I said, growing up that I was bought by Jesus sacrifice on the cross for my sins.

I belonged to Him.

However, the thing that stuck out was the part that said: “You are not your own”.
I sunk to my knees and told God, “I am not doing a good job of leading my life.
Take over, lead my whole life O God, it is yours. I can’t do it myself.”
I asked God, “Please forgive me for living like this,

“By my lies, selfishness, pride and immorality I am apart from You.”

As I prayed, God’s Holy Spirit filled the emptiness of my heart with his love.

It was an unbelievable experience.

God was with me!
For some reason the next day I woke up and I almost completely forgot about the night before.
I didn’t understand that Jesus had become my Savior and the Lord of my life.
I was saved... but I didn’t know it.
I remembered a party was that night and I got all ready to go.
As I was driving there I started to think,
“I shouldn’t go to this party.”
I started to drink a little and realized, “I shouldn’t be here.”
I left and I asked God to forgive me again.
Then I remembered the prayer that I prayed and that the Holy Spirit of God had come to me.

I realized that already the Holy Spirit of God was already beginning to actually lead my life the best way!

For about the next year I never had a bad day.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Part 2 - My Life Story - by Mark

From a young age my brothers and I would spend hours playing, watching and thinking about American football and other sports.’

In my school, American football was very important.

In the space of 9 years MY HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL TEAM was state champions 3 times and NUMBER TWO 2 times.

Unknowingly, football gradually became my god.

Football, and not the true God became my focus for satisfaction.

For a while it worked.
Football seemed to make a good god.
I was really happy playing football.

I could have thanked God for giving us the game of football and my ability to play it,

Instead I used God to get what I really wanted...

“God,” I would pray, “Get me on the starting football team!”

Next, I would pray for the other new god that I was forming in my heart.

God give me a girlfriend!

I had never had a girlfriend and really wanted to have one.

Every night I would pray, “God give me a girlfriend and make me a starter. Amen”

As a senior in high school God gave me what I wanted.
I got a position on the starting team playing defensive back.
It was so great!
Often times we would play in front of thousands of fans.
I got to appear in the newspaper and on T.V. and was well known at school.
Little kids even asked me for an autograph once!
My pride slowly got bigger and bigger.
I got my first girlfriend and felt fully content.
Then I forgot about God.
The football season suddenly ended and we had not won the championship.
A week later my girlfriend broke up with me.
My heart was so broken!
My two precious false gods had been destroyed.
I had never experienced such pain inside.

Monday, September 11, 2006

My life story - by Mark

I had been waiting for this moment for years.

I was a high school senior playing high school football.

Like many boys, playing under the lights of Cedar Rapids’ 15,000 seat Kingston stadium had been a dream of mine since I was young.

It was where I had grown up watching my high school’s football team as they went on to 4 state title games in 6 years.

Here I was, a starter on a famous team.

All the TV stations and newspapers were present.

That night and every Friday night, play after play, I got to level opponents, intercept passes and be known as a Linn-Mar Lion.

I had popularity and friends.

I was loved and respected.

Beyond my wildest dreams, in the years that followed I was able to find something even better than sports.

Today I want to tell you how I became a Christian AND WHY I AM

My name is Mark Wolter

I am from THE STATE OF Iowa


I’ve been happily married to Maki for a year and a half.
I grew up in a happy family with good parents.
Of course my parents were NOT perfect but they loved God and they loved me.

As a boy I saw that everyone around me had many problems, mistakes and sins, including my parents and myself.

I realized that this world was NOT a perfect place,
And even Christians were not perfect.
But I learned through the Bible that God IS perfect.
Our whole family went to church every Sunday.

There I learned about and personally experienced God’s love through other people.

I came to believe God is the God who made the world and everything in it.
As I grew a little older I learned that the first man that God made, Adam, rebelled against God.
Ever since then, doing wrong things and going away from God has been natural for humans.

I came to believe (as the Bible says) that God came to earth as a baby (Jesus) to live and die on a cross for the punishment that my sins deserved.

In junior high I learned that if I would confess my sins against God, He would forgive me
Though I had all this information, it was just head knowledge.
I thought that God was for after I died, not now.
God wasn’t related to daily life.
Christ was not my Lord.
I was in charge of my own life.
Rather than seek God, I would pray only to get things for myself.
I began to seek what the media and current culture says I should seek in the world.

I thought that if I had money, popularity, and fun, then I would be satisfied.

To be continued...

Saturday, September 09, 2006

In a Terrorized and Troubled World, Where is God?"

Many people do not believe in God because they cannot reconcile his existence with the existence of suffering and evil. Can these two be reconciled? If so, what does all the pain in this world mean?

Click here to listen or read an excellent message called, "In a Terrorized and Troubled World, Where is God?"

Thursday, September 07, 2006

School is just starting for us today!

Please pray for these precious kids to know
the Savior personally.

Here are some more fun pictures from our
summer camping trip. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


John Piper wants you to become a "Christian Hedonist".


To know more click here

Monday, September 04, 2006

To Preach Where Christ Has Not Been Named

After God Himself, this is the passion of my earthly life. As J Campbell White said, "Nothing can wholly satisfy the life of Christ in a believer than the adopting of this passion."

John Piper says, "Not everyone of you is called to go like Paul. But you can't be a loving person and not want your life to count to meet this need."

Click here to watch this wonderful message from John Piper (Holy Ambition: To Preach Where Christ Has Not Been Named)

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Free Derek Webb CD download
Good news for us Caedmon's Call fans.
Derek Webb, from Caedmon's Call is offering a new album that
can be downloaded for free - click here

Friday, September 01, 2006

Watch great live worship and messages by the folks who gave us the Passion conferences.