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".

Monday, September 08, 2008

Which Battle is more Real?

Before I got home tonight I was listening to a CD from the David Crowder Band.  One of the songs had this refrain:  "Life makes it so hard sometimes to know what's real."   I was reading a general missionary prayer card today when one line struck me.  It read, "Missionaries are like soldiers on the front lines of a fierce battle."

The two phrases came together and hit me so hard that I had to get it out in writing.  What blew open my heart was the sense that we should be saying and feeling something very different about missions.  Wouldn't a phrase like this be much more accurate:  "Missionaries ARE (not like) soldiers on the front lines of a fierce battle, bigger than any other."

Now hear me out.  Missionaries do not use guns or bombs, but the spiritual battle that we fight together with God's people is more real and more crucial than any physical battle!  (See Ephesians 6) The spiritual battle for souls going on around us every day is infinitely more important and more costly than the war in Iraq or the war in Afghanistan.  I can say it that bluntly because people who die in this battle don't just lose an 80 year earthly life, they lose an ETERNITY with God in heaven!   It is time for us Christians to wake up to this fact and reckon with its implications for our daily lives.  Which battles do you spend more time thinking about and praying about?  Political or spiritual?

Ten years ago, before I came to Japan, I read a book called, "Unveiled at Last - Discover God's Hidden Message from Genesis to Revelation" by Bob Sjogren.  The book was so-so, but its content was what has changed the course of my life.  In the book, Sjogren highlights this heart-exposing story:

  [I was] seated in one of the largest fundamental congregations in the country.  The morning service was smoothly orchestrated; I had relaxed in genuine meditative praise while enjoying a sweeping choral anthem in preparation for the biblical message.  Glancing at the order of service in the bulletin, I saw that Greg Livingstone was scheduled to give a "missions minute."
  "Right," I thought.  "This guy's really going to be able to say something significant in 60 seconds.  The one-minute missionary."
  The anthem ended and a square man who looked like a boxer stepped up to the podium.  Without so much as an introduction he asked, "How many of you are praying for the 52 American hostages in Iran?"
  I, of course, raised my hand.  All present raised their hands.  "Wow, that's terrific," he said.  "There must be 4,000 people here."
  "Now, let's be honest; Jesus is watching.  How many of you," the boxer continued, "are praying for the 45 million Iranians held captive in Islam?"
  One hand slowly went up.  Two hands.
  "What?  Only two people?" he yelled.  "What are you guys Americans first and believers second?"  The ensuing silence was not smoothly orchestrated.  It was a powerful 60 seconds I will never forget.  He closed by saying, "And I thought this was a Bible-believing church!" and then sat down!

Don't know about you, but I'm off to pray for my Muslim friends!  (... by the way, feel free to join me by going to the 30 days of prayer team as I share about below.)

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Moral Disqualification

Why Barak Obama fails the test to be president.

This is perhaps the most important post that I have ever seen about why no sane person should vote for Barak Obama.  Be sure to watch the video at the end.

HT: Vit. Z

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Pray for Muslims

1.4 billion (1 out of every 5 people on the planet) are Muslim.
Yesterday, Muslims around the globe started RAMADAN- the holy month of fasting.
Muslims will fast from dawn til dusk each day- not eating or drinking anything during the day. They will often break fast together. They will also try to read thru the entire Quran.
The purpose of Ramadan is purify one's self and draw near to God. 

Below is a link where you can sign up to get a daily email over the next 28 days- it will be a short story and/ or description of a Muslim country and then ask you to pray.

Please consider joining us as we cry out for these precious people who are created in the image of God- just as we are- and desperately need Jesus - just as we do!
You can subscribe at this website:

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

This looks to be a super helpful resource... and it is FREE! basically gives short clips of movie scenes that one could use to spark discussions or aid in Bible studies or messages.