Tuesday, December 30, 2008

"As an Atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God."

A couple of days ago a British atheist published an article in London's The Times
Now a confirmed atheist, I've become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people's hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.
I used to avoid this truth by applauding - as you can - the practical work of mission churches in Africa. It's a pity, I would say, that salvation is part of the package, but Christians black and white, working in Africa, do heal the sick, do teach people to read and write; and only the severest kind of secularist could see a mission hospital or school and say the world would be better without it. I would allow that if faith was needed to motivate missionaries to help, then, fine: but what counted was the help, not the faith.
But this doesn't fit the facts. Faith does more than support the missionary; it is also transferred to his flock. This is the effect that matters so immensely, and which I cannot help observing.
Read the whole thing.


Friday, December 26, 2008

From a baby to 33 years

It baffles me that in less than 2 weeks I will be 33, already the same age as Jesus was when he died on the cross and rose again to usher in life eternal.  It baffles me that 3 days ago, my little boy, Taka (崇)was born - just like Jesus was about 2,000 years ago.  It baffles me that God allows us to see the greatness of His story in news ways, dare I say, everyday!   God is so worthy of a life of worship, joy and praise.  That is why we are praying that, by God's power, Taka would be able to live all of his days lifting high the Name of Jesus in all he says and does.  For that is what his name means. 

As our doctor delivered little Taka, (all 3,238 grams of him!) I was again stunned at how little, vulnerable, and weak a new baby is - and yet how precious beyond understanding!  This little baby, born just as Jesus was, cannot do a thing for himself and yet a baby like this would one day deliver the whole world from sin and death!  A baby... this is the whole reason for Christmas!!

The good news of Jesus Christ is that in weakness, by God's strength, we become strong.  By His power, we are born again, not by our own will or strength, into an amazing, eternal and an abundant life in Him.  By His strength we can also go on also to do great things for His glory.  Either that, or we can waste our one little life on worldly pursuits that do not last. 

May the power of God's story change your heart also, and your life, and lead many to praise God's great Name because of you.

This new baby story - a story of adoption - from my friend Zach, also really touched my heart.  I hope it warms yours as well.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Big Shoes to Fill
Do you ever remembering doing this?  We all want to grow up to be big.  Watching Noah "secretly" go for my shoes several times now has been so fun to watch.  I pray that we also go after Jesus' shoes this Christmas.  Let us walk where he would walk and give as he would give.  Let us not be afraid to walk boldly in HIS shoes - full of a love that is BIG!  (Much bigger than these shoes.)
Great Question
"Billy Graham's daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her 'How could God let something like this happen?' (regarding Hurricane Katrina) Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response.  She said, 'I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we've been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives.  And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out.  How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?'"  - Ben Stein

Friday, December 19, 2008

Free Modern Parables Video

Make use of these great videos for the limited time they are free to view online.  I have used one in my Sunday English class and found it to be very interesting and thought-provoking.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Cultural Differences in Japan

Even after living more than 8 years in Japan, I still think some parts of Japanese culture are unusual.  Here is my "off the top of my head" top 10.

10.  It is rude to walk down the street while eating.

9.  Never blow your nose at the dinner table.

8.  Be sure to take off your slippers as you enter the bathroom and put on the bathroom slippers.  Also, there should be no slipper wearing on carpets or in traditional Japanese rooms.  Whatever you do, never forget to take off the bathroom slippers before you come out of the bathroom!  Panic will ensue!

7. It is normal to make a big deal out of other people's kids and put down your own family in the name of humility.

6.  Japanese love to listen to English songs, carols and DJs even if they don't know what the songs or words are about.  English is cool!

5.  Men should not eat many sweets - it is just not a manly thing to do.  Of course you may eat "Men's Pocky"!  (I think I've chosen to bypass this cultural cue.)

4.  Young men usually work just as much on their hair as women do.  (I know because I see them at work in public restrooms.)

Japanese Men Medium HairStyles
3.  It is okay for young men to trim their eyebrows to just the right shape.

2.  Christmas is a dating holiday, not a family holiday.  Christmas cake is a romantic way to celebrate.  KFC (Yes, Kentucky Fried Chicken) is a "traditional" favorite as well.

1.  (Though I haven't seen it for awhile)  It is okay for men to urinate outside against walls in urban places.  - Sorry to end on a crude note, but I don't know if I'll ever get used to that one!

If you live in Japan, (even if you are Japanese!) please tell me the most interesting or unusual parts of Japanese culture in your mind.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Take the Short Journey

I thought this was an interesting piece of the Christmas story:

True or False: When Herod heard about Jesus he was the only one concerned about this new king.

True? False?  ...  As you think, let me thank my mom for the question!

False, because all of Jerusalem was according to Matthew 2:3.
"When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him;" 

Somehow, all of the Jerusalem had found out the news about the magi coming and that the great star was signaling the coming of the Messiah!

The next part intrigued me even more:
"and assembling the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.  They told him, 'In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet'" (v.4-5)

Not only was the birth of Christ humble, as we all know, so was Christ's reception into the world in the year to two years following his birth; indeed during his entire life Jesus was never received well.  Though the scribes and the priests, yes even ALL OF JERUSALEM KNEW that the baby Messiah had been born in Bethlehem, NO ONE bothered to take the short journey with the maji to see the new king!

In their pride and comfort, and possibly in the busyness of their lives, even when the news was clear, people did not seek the Christ.

Is the situation any different today?  No wonder angels were revealed to the lowest of the low - the shepherds.  Only they could make the time to swing over!

Reflecting on this leads me to think about how easy it is to be pridefully blind and lazy amidst the wonderful.  I pray that God would lead me away from all pride and busyness and worldly contentment that could keep me from seeking, enjoying and sharing the wonder-ful Savior this Christmas.  I pray the same for you.

Here is the long-awaited (ok... at least by my mom!) 2008 Christmas poem - that I actually wrote a few days before my mom sent me the above question.

The joy of a Savior, 
I pray you taste its flavor,
so foreign to a man of pride, 
so content in the comforting tide

The angelic chords of majesty
could not be heard,
past the humble workplace
of low-class shepherds 

The barn and the stench

and yet the fragrance of love and myrrh,
God reveals his glory to men
but to the world it does not occur

That the world rushes about blind
on this holy night, 
while in that forgotten manger
all is still and bright

Saturday, December 06, 2008

 Noah is beginning to pray with us.  Of course we didn't teach him this!
He also likes to say "Jeeza" (Jesus) and "Bible".  I guess he knows what Mommy and Daddy like!
Fall comes a bit later in Japan than in Iowa.  Noah really likes jumping in the leaves though!
The emotions of eating breakfast!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Christmas Poem
I like writing poetry - especially at Christmas.  For some reason the mood of the season allows me to feel more reflective towards God and towards the times He has established.

Here is my Christmas poem from 2006.  As Christmas draws near, and if I can be still enough in the busyness of a new baby coming to reflect(!),  I hope to post a new poem.

Our God sent His most treasured gift
Human hands and feet - came to lift
to live, to love and to die,
to wash others feet and make them fly
Saying, "Blessed are the feet of those who bring the good news!"
Good news to all the nations
Those hands, they came to serve, and not to be served
So that in the power of His love, stones would be moved
                       - Mark, 2006

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Real Missionaries Never Make a Sacrifice

I feel I need to reemphasize something that I didn't emphasize enough in the post I made a few days ago.  Surely Christians and missionaries do "die to themselves" in this life, but not in any ultimate sense, even in this life!  Christians die to this fleeting vapor of a life in order to obtain TRUE LIFE with God, starting now and lasting forever!

Jesus said, "Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundred-fold now in this time, house and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life."  - Mark 10:28-30.

What we give up, God will be for us - 100 times and more for us, as we follow Him.

David Livingstone, missionary to Africa, once said,

"For my own part, I have never ceased to rejoice that God has appointed me to such an office. People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa.  Is that a sacrifice which brings its own blest reward in healthful activity, the consciousness of doing good, peace of mind, and a bright hope of a glorious destiny hereafter? Away with the word in such a view, and with such a thought! It is emphatically no sacrifice. Say rather it is a privilege. Anxiety, sickness, suffering, or danger, now and then, with a foregoing of the common conveniences and charities of this life, may make us pause, and cause the spirit to waver, and the soul to sink; but let this only be for a moment. All these are nothing when compared with the glory which shall be revealed in and for us. I never made a sacrifice."

Taken from Desiring God by John Piper.  You can read his chapter on missions online here, or the whole book here!  (I cannot recommend this chapter and book enough to you.)

Monday, December 01, 2008

Caedmon's Call - Sacred
 Recently I was reflecting on the song below by Caedmon's Call, one of my favorite bands.  I thought about my wonderful wife and how she laborers in the fields of the abundant harvest of our family every day.  What a ministry raising a family is!  I am so thankful for the partner that God gave me to walk through ministry and life together with.

this house is a good mess
it’s the proof of life
no way would I trade jobs
but it don’t pay overtime

I’ll get to the laundry
I don’t know when
I’m saying a prayer tonight
cause tomorrow it starts again

could it be that everything is sacred?
and all this time
everything I’ve dreamed of
has been right before my eyes

the children are sleeping
but they’re running through my mind
the sun makes them happy
and the music makes them unwind

my cup runneth over
and I worry about the stain
teach me to run to You
like they run to me for every little thing


when I forget to drink from you
I can feel the banks harden
Lord, make me like a stream
to feed the garden

wake up, little sleeper
the Lord, God Almighty
made your Mama keeper
so rise and shine

rise and shine cause


Words and Music by Randall Goodgame and Andrew Osenga (c) 2007 House of Mirrors Music (ASCAP) admin. by Simpleville Music, Inc. / 2007 Mighty Molecule Music. (ASCAP) admin by Music Services 

Friday, November 28, 2008

Advent Conspiracy

Question to self:  Could I give to those who are in need just as much or more than to those who are in my circle of family and friends this Christmas?

(HT: Z)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Atheist Dying and Comes Back to Life
Read this amazing story here.  (By the way I checked on the legitimacy of this story, and it seems to be a true story.)
Note:  Listen to the testimony personally by going to iTunes and looking for "Christian TESOL in Japan".
Fairy Tales for Big People

Find out how the giraffe got its long neck and other evolutionary fairy tales here.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Dying Seeds

"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.  Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.  If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am , there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him." 
                                                                      - Jesus (John 12:24)

Have you ever really tasted this verse?  I am not asking if you have ever agreed with this verse, but I am asking have ever really experienced it?

If you have ever been rejected simply because you are a Christian you have felt this verse to some degree.  If you have ever been abandoned by family members or other loved ones because you profess Christ, you have tasted it more.  Some have even so tasted this verse (and modeled themselves after Christ so much) that they have literally been slaughtered in order to honor God and not refuse Him.

Being a missionary is, in short, accepting a call to embrace this verse and taste this verse in a deeper way.  It is a call to die.  It is a call to live by dying.

Jesus promised missionaries that, "you will be hated wherever you go." (Matt. 10:22, 24:9) and that we would have need for endurance.  He didn't promise that we would be loved and accepted by men.  Peter, through the Holy Spirit said, "do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you."  - 1 Peter 4:12

But God does promise that these dying ones are the only ones who will not be alone.  Though separated from comforts and friends and family, these will not remain alone.

With this thought and these feelings in mind, I was actually very encouraged to hear of a fellow passionate missionary express his own struggles.  In some small way they encouraged me that I am not the only one who is spending his time "dying". There is a life to come that all true Christians live for today!

My friend writes:

"I cannot deny the fact that there is a part of me that longs to be here (home in the states).  The fellowship and safe net community is so wonderful.  There is so much provided here spiritually.  How safe I feel when I am here.  JAPAN is nothing like this!  I love and hate Japan.  The spiritual darkness is ever present and is like a 1000 lbs placed upon my chest.  It is hard to accomplish much with this weight on anyone.  Yet, my hope remains in the Lord.  He is the One that saves.
    However, I must be honest, I do not always believe He will save or can change hearts in Japan.  The numbers seem to great and the massive acceptance and tolerance of immorality seems as an unstoppable/out-of-control wild fire.  Yet, who is the One who parts the seas and made water come from rocks?  Yes, our GOD! 
    Oh, how I long for the joy of the Lord to be my strength everyday.  But some days are hard.  Oh how I long for spiritual food and encouragement from others.  But those times there seem like the chances of finding a precious jewel.  Yet, the Lord is ever present and my refuge and my salvation.  For whom shall I fear?  Yes, I know these facts, but it does not change how ones environment can effect you.  If you leave a piece of bread on the counter top it will over time dry out and get hard, crusty or moldy.  But, if you place it in the right environment, it will last longer."
He finishes with this statement, to which I would whole-heartedly agree: "There is NO doubt that I have been called to Japan!  I love the people and the place.  May the Lord go before me and change hearts there." 

Sunday, November 23, 2008

John Lennox on Debating Atheists

Faceoff from CPX on Vimeo.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Marriage and Hindered Prayers

Writing for the DGM Blog, David Mathis writes:
The apostle Peter writes,

Husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. (1 Peter 3:7)

This is strange at first glance. How does caring for your wife connect to having unhindered prayers?

Here's Wayne Grudem's challenging commentary:

So concerned is God that Christian husbands live in an understanding and loving way with their wives, that he "interrupts" his relationship with them when they are not doing so. No Christian husband should presume to think that any spiritual good will be accomplished by his life without an effective ministry of prayer. And no husband may expect an effective prayer life unless he lives with his wife "in an understanding way, bestowing honour" on her. To take the time to develop and maintain a good marriage is God's will; it is serving God; it is a spiritual activity pleasing in his sight." (1 Peter, 146)

Christian husbands shouldn't feel that time given to their wives is "time away from the real ministry." Time invested with our wives is time well spent. It's God's will—"a spiritual activity pleasing in his sight."
 Mark's note:  This post hit me square in the heart tonight.  How much more do I need to pray than simply to speak to others about Christ; and how much I need to really listen to my wife instead simply speaking to her.  God, thank you for humbling me!


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Bible's Buried Secrets

On Nov. 19, you can watch this very interesting looking NOVA program online here.

In the past I have found NOVA to be pretty anti-Bible, so I was glad to hear from my dad that this program was very good.  I encourage you to watch.

UPDATE:  After watching the preview video, I noticed a few false statements.  One, David was the founder of the nation of Israel?  A new idea?  God had a wife?  Hmm...  I guess we'll have to suspend judgment for now.
If You Love Jesus this will Move You

(HT: Z)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Daddy Time

With Maki trying to stay off her feet a lot lately, I have had the opportunity to spend some good time with Noah every day after work at a few local parks.  He is a precious gift from God to say the least.  Today we were riding in the car together and I heard from the backseat, "BICKLE!".  I turned to see a bicycle coming along the side of us.

Noah also loves to point at whatever he knows to tell us what it is.  Whenever he sees a baby or hears a baby he makes a sign for baby.  Recently (since we don't know when Maki will have to go to the hospital), we have been slowly starting to set up for Christmas.  One thing we have out already is a manger scene.  Noah simply loves it!  Even though it is far too high on the shelf to see, he knows exactly where it is and often points for me to lift him up to see it.  He will start to cry unless he spends at least 4-5 minutes there.  Of course his favorite is the baby Jesus.  He always wants to pick up the figurine and look at it.  Okay, maybe that is enough for now!  (I could go on and on!)
Is Christianity a Religion?

(Part 2 - Scroll down for part 1)

There is no religious ritual, ceremony or good thing you can do to make yourself acceptable in God’s eyes in any way because God simply has no need of anything man can do.

God says, “For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills.  I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine.  If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine.” (Psalm 50:10-11)

God is not impressed with any of our religious rituals or ceremonies as if people could control Him by their work.

Acts 17:24-25 says, “The God who made the world and everything in it, being the Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.”

The amazing thing is that though God has no need of our religion, He pours out His love on us and helps us and saves us for free, so that we can enjoy Him.

All of true Christianity is about God’s love and His work for you and not about you and or any of your religious efforts for Him, and thus Christianity excludes all pride over others.

But this is not to say that Christians are now perfect and have no pride.

In fact, we should not be surprised to find some nonbelievers who are outwardly nicer, kinder, wiser and even more humble than we are.

Why?  Christian believers are not accepted by God because of their superior moral performance, wisdom or virtue, but because of Christ’s work alone on their behalf.

A big-time sinner changed by God’s work may for a while look a little less polished than a person who has built up long-term habits of outward shows of kindness to others.

Jesus shocked the disciplined religious leaders of his day when he said to them, “I tell you the truth, the (lying and stealing) tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.”  (Matthew 21:31)

God is in the business of saving and changing weak and immoral people because He wants all the glory for our salvation.  He alone is God.

Rom. 8:28 is one of my favorite verses.  We are going to look at this passage of Scripture today, so I invite you to open your Bible to Romans 8. 

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good, for those who love God, for those who are called according to His purpose.”

You might look at that verse and says, “See Mark, after all you do need to do something to have God work all things for your good – you have to love Him.”

You see, Christianity IS a religion.

Order and context is very important here, so let’s keep reading.

“all things work together for good... for those who are called according to His purpose.”

Before anyone chooses to love God, God has already chosen to love that person personally and powerfully and has called them to Himself and into His plan and purpose. 

1 John 4:19 says, “We love because God first loved us.”  Without His love in our hearts, we have no real love to truly love him with, because He IS love!

All of our love will be self-centered or idolatry unless God is first living in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. The fruit of His work is love.  (Galatians 5:22-23)

Christians, though far from perfect, love God and love people because they know and have tasted God’s love deep in their hearts.

The next verse says, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”

Some people look at this verse and say, “See, first God foreknew that we would love him and choose him.”

That is why He chooses and predestines certain people to love and to save.  You see, in the end it is really up to us and if we are good enough or not.

We need to look at this verse closely because it is very important.

Who or what does God foreknow in this verse?

Several times we see clearly in the Bible that God clearly knows the future and all future events.  But what is the foreknowing here in this verse about?

This verse says “those he foreknew”.  God here foreknows His people, not just their choices.

The word “foreknew” here in Greek means more than just knowing facts about someone.  God foreknows His people – meaning God foreloves His people, before they have done or chosen anything to merit His love.

He loves His people before they are even born.

As Psalm 139 says, “Your eyes saw my unformed substance.  All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

People will not and cannot come to follow God unless God first works in their hearts and draws them to Himself.

Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.  And I will raise him up on the last day.”  (John 6:44)  and again in 6:64-65, “’Yet there are some of you who do not believe.’  For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him.  He went on to say, ‘This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.’”

Well, how about after the Father draws you by His love and you become a Christian?  Is it then up to you and your religious efforts to stay a Christian?

Someone might say, “Sure to become a Christian may not be religious, but to stay one you need to be very religious!”

You have to go to church every week, you have to give money to poor people, you have to do good things and love God all the time or else He will leave you and send you to hell, right?

That sounds more religious than most religions.

Wrong.  Christians need the gospel of God’s free and powerful grace just as much as we did before we became Christians!

God hates man-centered religion that boasts of man-centered effort and ability.

He hates it just like a doctor would hate it if a patient does not trust him enough to just receive the right medicine given, but tries hopelessly to make his own medicine.

A sick person needs merely to rest in the doctor’s care and let the doctor work to bring healing and wholeness.

As God, the Great Physician, heals our hearts and works on our behalf, we also begin to love God and desire to follow Him.

This is the evidence of the great doctor’s work and of healing, not of superior effort or ability to heal oneself.

Let’s keep reading:  “And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”

This great linking of words means that from before our birth to the point we are glorified in heaven, all of our success is a work of God or else it is not Christianity.

God justifies you, or declares you not guilty by faith in Jesus, but that faith itself is a work of God.  (Ephesians 2:8-9) And so we kneel and praise God for His unbelievable mercy and grace to save forever such wretches as us!  (Eph. 1)

As Chris said in his message, God imputes his righteousness to us, so as Jer. 23:6 and 33:16 say, “The LORD is our righteousness.”

God does call us to obey him, but that obedience will not happen unless God first works in us to give us His righteousness and then works in us so that we enjoy doing things according to His good pleasure.  (Philippians 2:13)

Philippians 1:6 says, “Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ.”

Though far from attaining perfection, a true Christian is powerfully worked on by God’s great scalpel, the Holy Spirit and has been given a new heart transplant in Christ as well as His imputed righteousness.

And one day we will be completely set free from evil and set free into God’s loving presence forever.

v. 31 says, “What then shall we say to these things?  If God is for us, who can be against us?”  If God saved you, who can be more powerful than God to unsave you?

v. 35 says, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger or sword?"

Do you see what the apostle Paul is saying here?

If God has really called you and loved you and put his seal on you as a Christian bound for glory, there is nothing that will be able to stop you from following Christ.

There is no temptation or hardship that could do it.  There is no demon in hell that is strong enough to do it, not even death can do it.

He goes on in v. 37-39, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers (Satan), nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, (evil spirits) nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Christians are the kind of people that have been so transformed that they can face death with peace (as v. 36 indicates) because God is guarding them for eternal life.

Steve Rohrer, whom most of you know, was once out camping with his then five-year-old daughter Julia.

As they entered their tent to sleep, the wind began to pick up and Julia was quite frightened.

“Daddy,” she said, “what if the wind blows our tent into the lake?  We could drown!”

Steve looked back and said, “Don’t worry, Julia.  I am much heavier than this tent.  It is not going anywhere.”

Julia was soon fast asleep.

There is no greater peace on the planet than to know that your eternity in heaven is secure and you yourself are secure because of God’s work and not because of your own work.

Christians, He is in your tent.

Are you sick of religion?

Are you sick of rituals and ceremonies based on fear or superstition?

Are you tired of having to give a lot of work and time and money that you don’t want to give?

Are you sick of religion that lifts up the pride of men over others?

Religions, even “Christian” religions have led to wars and problems the world over.

The answer is not atheism with its moral subjectivism and utter hopelessness for this life and the next.

The answer is coming back into a love relationship with God, your Creator, for free through Jesus Christ.

This and this faith alone has the power to humble us and inspire us towards great love in all the world.

God and not religion, is our only hope.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Is Christianity a Religion?

(This is the first section of a message I will give at church tomorrow.)

Increasingly in this modern secular world many people are beginning to hate religion.

It is not just some weird or cult-like religions that people hate, but for many, all religions are clumped into one category as being equally bad.

A common feeling in Japan is that religion in general is dangerous.

One popular book in America, in a string of best-selling anti-religion books is called, “God is not Great: Why Religion Poisons Everything”  (Christopher Hitchens)

The word “religion” conjures up various ideas for various people.

You may be surprised to hear this, but today I want to make it clear that in the most common use of the word today, Christianity is not a religion and that the Bible teaches that in fact religion does poison everything.

I said that to a non-Christian friend one time and he looked at me as if my head had just fallen off.  Christianity is NOT a religion?

What exactly do I mean by “religion”?  Well let me make some distinctions first.

Some would define religion as having a worldview that requires faith in something unseen.

In this sense of the word religion, all people, even atheists have a religion, in that everyone in the world has a worldview that puts faith in things we have never seen with our own eyes. 

For example, scientists cannot empirically test things that happened in the past and yet there are millions of people who blindly believe that life came from non-life as if it were a fact.

Tim Keller says it like this:

"Some believe that this material world is all there is, that we are here by accident and when we die we just rot, and therefore the important thing is to choose to do what makes you happy and not let others impose their beliefs on you.  Notice that though this is not an explicit, "organized" religion, it does contains a master narrative, a faith statement about life and its meaning, along with a recommendation for how to live based on that account of things... It is an implicit religion."

If religion equals faith in the unseen, then everyone is religious because everyone lives by faith in things not yet fully proven or seen.

Because of this fact, atheism has even been given legal religious rights in America, just as Christianity and Islam have.

In some sense then, we are all religious, whether we admit it or not.

However, the kind of religion that I want to talk about today is the kind of religion we usually think of when we think of religion.

It is the religion that requires one to use much effort and discipline in order to please or appease a God or gods or in order to be safe and reach a better spiritual state.

This kind of religion offers salvation or betterment of one’s life in some way through one’s own moral and/or spiritual effort or work.

In Islam the task is to accomplish the five pillars of faith in order to be accepted by Allah.

In Buddhism the task is to lose all desire, live rightly and to reach enlightenment.

In Shinto the task is to appease the kami by rituals and veneration.

In Catholicism, it is the task of keeping all the sacraments like going to Mass, baptism and confession to a priest and choosing that which would win God’s saving pleasure.

Religion that requires work and ritual lifts individual pride upon success and naturally leads followers to look down on others who do not follow as well as they do.

From this pride comes a host of evils, including hating and even killing those that are not as good or as disciplined as you are.

It also causes the truly sincere and earnest believer to despair or live in fear when he sees that he is not able to do all that is required of him.

In this most straightforward sense then the faith of the Bible - Christianity, is emphatically not a religion.

Christianity has nothing to do with the work or striving or any ability in man.  It has everything to do with admitting weakness and receiving God’s work as a free gift.

The Bible shows that we are all morally corrupt deep in our hearts – even Christians - and that only God is truly good and pure. (Romans 3:1, 7:18)

There is no room for religious pride and for the hating and killing and wars that come from religion in true Christianity because the faith of the Bible shows that everyone in all of the world is the same – we are all sinners, helplessly in need of God’s kindness and grace.

And because God is a God of love and mercy, true Christians, who have been humbled and changed by God’s love, desire to love others also.

Rather than emphasizing the efforts and abilities of man, the Bible rather centers on what God has already accomplished for us by becoming a man in Jesus Christ.

In Christ’s death and resurrection God cancels our sin debt and imputes His righteousness to our account as a free gift of grace.

Titus 3:4-7 says, “...when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing and regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

We can say then that Christianity is simply a relationship with a wonderfully kind God and is emphatically not a religion.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Fear of God or Fear of Atheists?
Some recent ponderings about religion in Japan and America:
In Japan many people fear God/gods and hate religion.  In America many people do not fear God/gods and hate religion.  In Japan most people think that people who really believe in God/gods are weird and untrustworthy.  In America most people think that people who don't really believe in God are weird or untrustworthy (see below).  In Japan, religion is best when it is only culturally expressed and not believed seriously.  In America, religion is best when it is taken to heart and not just a cultural repetition.  In America people don't trust atheist politicians (see below).  In Japan people don't trust religious politicians.

 "In the United States, there is widespread disapproval of atheists. As a result, there has only been one openly non-theistic member of Congress in history; Pete Stark. According to motherjones.com, 52 percent of Americans claim they would not vote for a well-qualified atheist for president.[14] More recently a 2007 Gallup poll produced nearly identical results.[15] A 2006 study at the University of Minnesotasociologists Penny Edgell, Joseph Gerties and Douglas Hartmann conducted a survey of American public opinion on attitudes towards different groups. Forty percent of respondents characterized atheists as a group that "does not at all agree with my vision of American society", putting atheists well ahead of every other group, with the next highest being Muslims (26 percent) and homosexualsAfrican-Americans (27 percent). [16][17] Joe Foley, co-chairman for Campus Atheists and Secular Humanists, commented on the results, "I know atheists aren't studied that much as a sociological group, but I guess atheists are one of the last groups remaining that it's still socially acceptable to hate."[18] Nevertheless, atheists are legally protected from discrimination in the United States. They have been among the strongest advocates of the legal separation of church and state. showed atheists to be the most distrusted minority among Americans. In the study, (23 percent). When participants were asked whether they agreed with the statement, "I would disapprove if my child wanted to marry a member of this group," atheists again led minorities, with 48 percent disapproval, followed by Muslims (34 percent)."  - Wikipedia (read more here)
I Want to Play Football Again

More often in the past, but even now at 32(!), especially during the fall, I have had dreams of strapping on the helmet and playing football again.  There weren't too many things more fun than laying on a smashing tackle and celebrating with your teammates.  Apparently this referee had the same kind of dream!

For those of you who study Japanese (or want to start studying Japanese!), I found this site to be very useful.  Also, to aid in understanding Japanese e-mails or webpages, I use Jim Breen's site quite often.  All you have to do is copy and paste in the Japanese text and accurate readings & definitions come out to help you.  This may not be the the best for people with only a beginner's knowledge of Japanese however.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Noah Mozarembrandt

These days Noah can be found turning on the piano and composing his own "music".  He will sign when he wants the CD player on - which is usually!  Today I found him erecting his own color castle (see picture).  Is this boy still 16 months?  Okay, to be honest, usually he is destroying castles instead of making them...  He is a boy! 
Please pray for our baby

I write to ask you to pray for all of us here.

Maki was told two weeks ago by the doctor that her body was preparing too early to have the baby.  Since then she has been trying to stay off of her feet as much as possible.  Two days ago we went to the doctor again and he said that the water is now coming down farther yet.  The due date is not until Dec. 17.  Based on the current size of the baby, there could be physical problems if the baby was to be born within the next 3 weeks.

Please pray that Maki would be able to stay off her feet, that I would be help her during this time and that God would keep the baby from being born until we are in a safe period.  Of course these are our requests, but more than anything we pray that God would prepare us for the baby that He wants us to have.  We don't believe God ever makes mistakes and there is definitely a good reason for why this problem has come about.  We cannot see that, however, so we ask that you pray for us!

I'll let you know as soon as I can as things progress!  Thanks for standing with us.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Piper on Missions and our Finances

 John Piper writes:
"Contrary to what the Prosperity Gospel teaches, wealth is not usually a blessing. It is usually a curse. Jesus said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God” (Luke 18:25). Wealth is a mortal danger for those who have it. It does not make us generous and humble. It makes us buy more stuff, and it numbs our conscience because we have to blind ourselves to our inconsistencies with the Calvary road.
Paul said to the prosperity preachers of his day, “Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs” (1 Timothy 6:9-10).

The Problem: We Have So Much Money

No, it isn’t for lack of money that there are 1,568 peoples (people groups) with no missionaries. It’s because we have so much. The comforts of the West have made us soft and cautious and fearful and indulgent and self-protecting, instead of tough and risk-taking and bold and self-controlled and self-sacrificing."

Let me ask you - if you had more money, would you be likely to give a greater percentage of your income?

Watch, listen or read the whole message.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

"Give and it will be Given to You"

In this uncertain financial time period we have some really great promises from our never-failing God to literally bank on.  Instead of hording your money and sitting in a dark corner until the economy gets better, Jesus says, "Give".  He says, "Don't worry about tomorrow" and that if He cares for the lilies of the field and for the little sparrows that are worth a few cents, surely He will care for you!  He even knows the number of hairs on your head - and cares for each one!  How will you then worry, you of little faith!  ((My paraphrase:  "Stand up boldly Christians for Christ's Name!"))

During tough financial times, we as Christians have huge opportunities to show the truth of Christ's words.  By continuing to give boldly and spend with confidence to further Christ's kingdom, we can be sure that our storehouse will not run dry.  (This is also, by the way, one of the keys to pulling the economy back into shape!)  In Malachi, God urges His people - "Test me in this!"  Test God that he always provides for the work that He calls us to.  He is the God who owns a thousand cows on a thousand hills and holds all the stars that he spoke into existence in the palm of His hand.  Surely, through difficult times we are given opportunities to show that we believe such things.

"Give and it will be given to you:  good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over will be put into your bosom."  - Luke 6:38
Free John MacArthur!

There's some great news coming from the ministry of Grace to You, the ministry of John MacArthur.  Starting on Nov. 5, all of his sermons (over 3,500!) will be available for free download.

Check out more here.

I have personally been very blessed by John MacArthur's ministry and find him to be one of the most solid Biblical preachers in the world today.   I encourage you to check it out on Nov. 5, if the bandwidth holds up!

(HT: JT)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

In Science does Majority Rule?

Five-hundred years ago more than 95% of scientists would have told you that the sun revolves around the earth.  For thousands of years man engineered flight was considered by more than 95% of scientists to be impossible (even in the year that the Wright brothers first flew) and a foolish endeavor to pursue.
Today about 95% of scientists tell us that macro-evolution is a fact.  What should we believe?

From AIG:
"...one day a friend told me that something like 95 percent of scientists believe evolution is true. That made me completely rethink things. I’m a layman when it comes to this stuff. All I know is what I learnt in school or read on this website. So my opinion on the topic of evolution is only based on what smarter people than me have said. And basically, it’s your views vs. everyone else’s. Who am I to say that all those incredibly smart people are wrong?"

Read the fine response here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ballot Box Blues
Justin Taylor on why this election year is so difficult for Christians.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

It Sounds Pretty Far-Fetched That Obama Would Vote To Allow Born Alive Infants To Die, Right?

Justin Taylor:

Robert George and Yuval Levin, in a new article on Obama and Infanticide, argue that Obama's response during the third debate regarding the Illinois Born-Alive Infants Protection Act "followed the pattern of his approach to this subject throughout the campaign: deny the facts and confuse the issue."

Read the whole thing. Here's the conclusion:
Some of Senator Obama's supporters are now making one last, rather desperate-sounding attempt to defend his votes against protecting infants born alive after unsuccessful abortions. Their argument goes this way: Permitting children who survive attempted abortions to be abandoned is so heinous, so barbaric, that for someone to accuse Senator Obama, a decent man who is himself the father of two daughters, of supporting what amounts to legalized infanticide is too outrageous to merit an answer. There is a problem, though. In light of the documentary evidence that is now before the public, it is clear that the accusation against Senator Obama, however shocking, has the very considerable merit of being true.
When I was watching the debate (transcript) and heard Obama say this, "If it sounds incredible that I would vote to withhold life saving treatment from an infant, that's because it's not true", I was immediately thinking, "Man, that is a good strategy on his part. It does sound pretty far fetched that he would do such a thing. This dude is seriously crafty."

Before you vote, please do the research. Don't be a lazy voter.

This post will help that process.
This one will too. 
(HT: Z)

Friday, October 17, 2008

I Love David Crowder
... because he makes me see and love Jesus more.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Four friends and I went up to Tokyo on Sunday and Monday for Passion Tokyo 2008.   We were greatly blessed by it!  First, we got second row seats, because we were there early.  All of my favorite worship bands were there - and not just there - they all tried to use some Japanese both in their songs and in their intros!  All of the songs were translated on the screen and Louie Giglio had a translator (a man that I have met personally and talked with) that did a great job.  Japanese aside, the message was consistent through the whole night and was extremely powerful and culturally relevent, both for Christians and non-Christians alike.  The two non-Christians that were in our group both said that they enjoyed their time a lot.  One of them said that he had never heard Christianity presented in that way.  He said that he was interested in reading 1 Corinthians for himself (the text that Louie used in his message).  Praise God for what He is doing in Japan and for the ministry of Passion!  (Check out more at www.268blog.com)

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Remembering Wilberforce

I am currently teaching about the life of Wilberforce to my social studies students.  Enjoy this video and thank God for the freedom His grace brings.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Dr. Johnathan Wells at the Kansas Evolution Hearings:

Wells is not a Christian, but as a brilliant scientist he brings out a great point that Christians (and non-Christians) would do well to consider:

"Darwinian evolutionists have consistently argued against Design. Darwin himself did. Hundreds of pages in The Origin of Species included the argument against design. The argument was that the evidence will show that what looks like it's designed can actually be explained by natural processes.
Now, if evidence can show that something is not designed, then in principle evidence can show something is designed. You can't have it both ways. You can't say suddenly-- well, you can't argue for design because all of a sudden that involves something supernatural. Darwin was excluding the supernatural and claiming that the evidence justified it.
I would say if you're going to resort to evidence on one side, you can resort to it on the other. And for me that's all Intelligent Design does, says the evidence we see points to design. Where we go beyond that is a theological question. I'm also a theologian so I know those questions, but that's not science."

Monday, September 29, 2008

Are your words offensive... enough?

One reason I love Luther is that he said things as they should be said.  He spoke to wolves to shoot them, just as Jesus did to the Pharisees (religious people) of his day.

Are your own words offensive enough?  Watch Mark Driscoll's message here.
(Updated link)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Pray for Iran

Having known an Iranian Christian in Japan, my heart went out to him as I read this post by Joshua Harris:

A few weeks ago our church prayed as a congregation for the nation of Iran. Among the things we prayed about was a bill before Iranian parliament to mandate the death penalty for Muslims convicted of apostasy. Sadly, the bill passed by overwhelming majority in favor of the death penalty. In fact, just two days before the vote two Iranian Christians were charged with apostasy.
Although apostasy is now a capital offense, judges are free to decide what penalty will be given, and the two men await their penalty. Please pray for these men, for other believers in Iran and for the leaders of this nation.
Here is some additional information compiled by my friend Kevin Rogers that will help inform your prayers for this country:
Formerly known as Persia, Iran is the seat of one of the world's oldest major civilizations, and Persian history figures prominently in the pages of the Old Testament. Today, this nation rich with history and culture faces grave circumstances. Human trafficking has been internationally recognized as a significant problem, religious persecution causes thousands of people to emigrate each year, and poverty and unemployment continue to rise. Despite these circumstances, God's unstoppable plan is unfolding in Iran. It is believed that people are responding to the gospel in great number. These converts face great cost as pressure from family, friends, and Islam looms ominously in their lives. By God's grace and in spite of the isolation from the outside world of believers, the young church in Iran thrives.
Still, most of Iran's 65 million people adhere to Shi'a Islam. This month, they will join Muslims around the world in celebrating Ramadan, a time of fasting, prayer and purifying themselves through self-restraint and good deeds.
Please Pray:

• For the Iranians and Muslims here in our community as they celebrate Ramadan, that they would see that only Jesus can purify them and reconcile them to God. • For Muslims in Iran who convert to Christianity as they potentially face significant penalties. Ask that God would protect Muslim-background believers in Iran and that they will stand strong against tremendous pressure to return to Islam.
• For the rapidly growing church in Iran, that God would raise up godly pastors and leaders and that they would be firmly grounded in biblical truth.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Kirk Cameron speaks about Fireproof
"I'll only kiss my wife." 

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Watch the preview and read about why you should see this new movie.
Christina Rohrer's Story
(Christina is a high school student at the school I teach.)

Have you ever been told that you had something in your body that could cause you to die very suddenly?  In May, I was having severe headaches in the right side of my brain, so we went to the hospital to get it checked out, and we found two problems, an AVM (a malformation of veins and arteries) and an aneurysm (a swollen artery).  The AVM was located inside my brain, so if it was to bleed, it could be fatal.  The aneurysm was located outside of my brain behind my right eye, so if it bled, it would not be fatal, but it would affect my eye. Because of this, we decided that we should get the AVM operated on as soon as possible, and wait for the aneurysm surgery.  That is what I did this summer vacation.  I had open brain surgery on August 5th.  The operation went well, but when it was over, I started having trouble seeing with and moving my right eye.  The doctors decided that this was because of the aneurysm, and they said that if I wanted my eye to get better, I should have another surgery.  Even though I really did not want to go through the pain again, I had my second brain surgery on August 26 and 27. This may all sound horrible, and to tell the truth, it did not feel good, but now, looking back on it, I am so thankful for this experience.  While going through this experience, I learned so much about God, and I became closer to Him than I ever have been before.  He gave me so much peace before both surgeries that I was able to go into the operation room without fear.  He has also helped me to heal so quickly and to be able to pretty much return to my normal life.  My right eye is still in the process of healing but it has improved a lot since the surgery, and I know that that too is a gift from God.  I am so thankful that I have such a wonderful God in control of my life, because He knows exactly what He is doing, and He does not make mistakes.  He has a plan for my life, and He is going to use me in a wonderful way that will bring Him glory.  He showed me this through my difficult experience this summer, and I am so grateful to Him.  God also showed me what a gift life is and that it is not something to be taken for granted. I am so happy that He allowed me to keep living, even though I know that even if I had died, I would be with Him in heaven.  It is never too early to make sure that you are ready to die.  I realized that all too well this summer.   - C.R.

Praise God!  And please keep Christina's continued recovery in your prayers!  Thank you.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Why I Love Astronomy

Check out this truly worshipful experience as you take a journey into space.

BTW: This post couldn't come at a better time as I am getting geared up to teach a little bit of astronomy to 4th and 5th graders!  They will love it too.

(HT: JT)

"You Can't Legislate Morality!"

(HT:Z via JT)
"See if these comments from MLK Jr. apply to the debate about abortion and all those that I have been discussing this with lately who keep telling me that laws against abortion don't matter because you can't legislate morality."

Martin Luther King Jr.:
Now the other myth that gets around is the idea that legislation cannot really solve the problem and that it has no great role to play in this period of social change because you’ve got to change the heart and you can’t change the heart through legislation. You can’t legislate morals. The job must be done through education and religion. Well, there’s half-truth involved here. Certainly, if the problem is to be solved then in the final sense, hearts must be changed. Religion and education must play a great role in changing the heart. But we must go on to say that while it may be true that morality cannot be legislated, behavior can be regulated. It may be true that the law cannot change the heart but it can restrain the heartless. It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me but it can keep him from lynching me and I think that is pretty important, also. So there is a need for executive orders. There is a need for judicial decrees. There is a need for civil rights legislation on the local scale within states and on the national scale from the federal government.

-Taken from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s address at Western Michigan University, December 18, 1963, cited in The Case for Life: Equipping Christians to Engage the Culture by Scott Klusendorf (forthcoming).

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Everyone is Religious

 Recently I have been reading, "The Reason for God" by Timothy Keller.  Here is a great quote from a great book so far:

(What is Religion)..."Some say it is a belief in God.  But that would not fit Zen Buddhism, which does not really believe in God at all.  Some say it is belief in the supernatural.  But that does not fit Hinduism, which does not believe in a supernatural realm beyond the material world, but only a spiritual reality within the empirical.  What is religion then?  It is a set of beliefs that explains what life is all about, who we are, and the most important things that human beings should spend their time doing.  For example, some think that this material world is all there is, that we are here by accident and when we die we just rot, and therefore the important thing is to choose to do what makes you happy and not let others impose their beliefs on you.  Notice that though this is not an explicit, "organized" religion, it contains a master narrative, an account about the meaning of life along with a recommendation for how to live based on that account of things... It is an implicit religion."

If you want to save yourself from a lot of reading, this video is a great summary of the book, it seems.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Learning from a Dead Dad
   from my brother, Doug:

  Today I got a little hungry for Christian biography.  So, I went into our church library, browsed for awhile, and finally pulled off the shelf, The Story of John G. Paton.  I had heard about this missionary before but never read the full story of this man who was called by Spurgeon, “The King of the Cannibals.”  
So far I’ve been most influenced by Paton’s father.  What an example he was to his kids.  Look below and learn from this dad in the way he prayed, disciplined his children, and loved his wife.  He may be dead, but his legacy lives on.

His Prayers
John and his brothers and sisters often heard their father praying for their salvation, as well as for the heathen people in distant lands who had never heard the gospel.  Even when he was still only a young boy John began to cherish the hope that one day he might, by God’s grace, have the privilege of taking the gospel to some part of the world where the inhabitants lived without the knowledge of Christ.
His Discipline
Of course, there were times when one or more of the children had to be punished.  When that happened John’s father would first go to his ’sanctuary’ and there pray for God’s wisdom that he might do what is right.  Then before dealing out the punishment he would carefully explain the reason for what he was about to do.
His Love for His Wife
John’s mum and dad truly loved each other and their love filled the home with great joy.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Recently summoned by officials of the city of Amagasaki, Japan, Mr. Minoru Nogiri, 45, a flower shop owner, found himself lining up to have his waistline measured. With no visible paunch, he seemed to run little risk of being classified as overweight.
Because of the new state-prescribed limit for male waistlines is a strict 33.5 inches, he had anxiously measured himself at home a couple of days earlier. “I’m on the border,” he moaned.
Japan, a country not traditionally known for its overweight people, has undertaken one of the most ambitious campaigns ever by a nation to slim down its citizens.
Under a national law that came into effect April 2008, companies and local governments must now measure the waistlines of Japanese people between the ages of 40 and 74. That represents more than 56 million waistlines!
Those exceeding government limits - 33.5 inches for men and 35.4 inches for women - will be given dieting guidance. If after three months they do not lose weight, they will be steered toward further re-education and special checkups.
The government will impose financial penalties on companies and local governments that fail to meet specific targets. Officials have moved aggressively into measuring waistlines, stressing that the campaign will keep the spread of diseases like diabetes and strokes in check and help curb the waistlines of an aging society.
When the turn came for the flower shop owner, Mr. Nogiri of Amagasaki city, he entered a booth where he had to bare his midriff, exposing a flat stomach with barely discernible love handles. A nurse wrapped a tape measure around his waist across his navel: 33.6 inches, or 0.1 inch over the limit.
“That’s a stunning blow!” he cried out, defeat spreading across his face.
Matsushita, one of the big companies in Japan, must measure the waistlines of at least 80 percent of its employees. They must get 10 percent of those deemed overweight to lose weight by 2012, and 25 percent of them to lose weight by 2015.
As part of its intensifying efforts, the company has distributed to its employees towels that double also as tape measures.
NEC, Japan’s largest maker of personal computers, said that if it failed to meet its targets, it could incur as much as $19 million in penalties.
Kenzo Nagata, 73, a toy store owner, said he had ignored a letter summoning him to a so-called special check-up. His waistline was no one’s business but his own, he said. He planned to disregard the second notice that the city was scheduled to mail to those that refuse to comply.
Source: NY Times, by Mr. N. Onishi, 2008-06-13

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The How, When and Why of Creation
Listen to this head-on message by Dr. John MacArthur.  I found it very helpful in my own study of creation.

(Note:  Stay tuned until the end of the message when you can learn how to receive a free copy of the book, "How Can I Trust the Bible?")

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Go to/ Pray for Passion Tokyo 2008!
Click here for more!
Phillip Johnson - An interview with NOVA (PBS)

"A philosophy of naturalism or materialism is what generates the Darwinian theory. It's what generates the certainty that only unintelligent natural forces were involved in evolution, which is to say in the creative process that brought our kind into existence as well as all the animals and all the plants. That is all a non-negotiable claim on their part. And why is it a non-negotiable claim? Because if the naturalistic starting point isn't valid—if it isn't completely correct—then something else must have happened. What is that something else? It's something that they don't like that might get a foothold in science itself.
"Maybe the creator is something more than an imaginary projection of people's minds. Maybe a creator is a necessary part of reality."
Q: Are there social consequences to this philosophy of naturalism or materialism that you describe?
Johnson: Yes, absolutely. Now, these consequences may be good or they may be bad. And they are attractive to some people and unattractive to others. For example, the naturalistic viewpoint is praised by those who like it for its tendency to liberate us from religious authority.
Q: But what's the negative side? My understanding is you see not the positive side of materialism but the negative side.
Johnson: I'm happy to concede that there is a positive way of looking at something and a negative way of looking at something. The negative side is that the naturalistic viewpoint leaves the way open for a kind of freedom from divine authority, a kind of moral anarchy."

Read the whole thing here.
This article was also helpful in remembering that ideology plays a big role in media (ie. PBS) as well as in "science".