Friday, October 30, 2009

The Reformation Day Polka
Enjoy this classic on Reformation Day. I had fun teaching and celebrating this to my social studies class this week.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I Love the Bible
(Part 3 - I love... series)
Why do I love the Bible? Here are 5 reasons:

1. It is so clearly true. In every way it has proven to be the Word of God. I don't know of anything else in the whole world that is more trustworthy. What can you believe 100% of the time besides this?
2. It brings me to God. People have all sorts of spiritual experiences and methods, but none is more reliable or more fool-proof than the Bible. God promises, "Seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be opened to you." (Matthew 7:7)
3. It shows me the path to the greatest amount of joy and love for the greatest amount of time. "In Your presence is fullness of joy and at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." (Psalm 16:11) God is not only the path, but He is the fullness of joy, love and pleasure forever.
4. It shows me that God loved me enough to show Me Himself clearly, not just generally. God doesn't just want to save me from hell, he wants to bring me into the greatest relationship of love I could ever know with Him.
5. It gives me a vision to live for. Why I am here? What should I be doing? How should I live my life? Where am I going? All of these huge important questions and more are answered in the Bible.

I encourage you to join me in reading your copy today. Just having the Bible in our own language is an amazing gift many have never experienced. Let's don't take that for granted. For us Christians, let's take time to thank God for the Bible during this Reformation Week. People gave their lives so that we could have this amazing gift!
Reformation Day Special

Until November 1 you can download for free Max McLean’s reading of Martin Luther’s speech, “Here I Stand” (24 minutes).
(HT: JT)

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Hunt for Gollum

Some have you have seen this new movie, (The Hunt for Gollum) but since several of my Lord of the Rings die-hard-fan type friends had not seen it, I wondered if others might also be in the same boat.

Watch this excellent you-tube movie for free here. Made for fans by fans - and on a budget of only $5,000! I couldn't believe it when I was watching... It is honestly very well done. Also, if you'd like to download the soundtrack, you can for free here.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Cool Fact of the Day
Bone is as strong as cast iron, resists bending as well as steel, but is only a third of steel's weight... And oh yeah, it's alive! See if you can create something like that! Go God!
Bone can withstand four times the weight of concrete and is only 14 percent of our total body weight!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Deflating Billions of Years
by AIG

Is there proof that the earth and universe must be old—billions of years old? Unfortunately for those who believe in an ancient universe, these “proofs” fall apart under scrutiny—and ignore the greatest source of historical information humanity has.

The majority of evidences for vast ages depend upon starting assumptions. Be alert for such phrases as “at a measurable rate” or “continuity” or “growth patterns.” These phrases essentially mean that the given reason that the universe must be old requires that several assumptions must be true:

  • the current rate is extrapolated into the past,
  • the starting value is assumed,
  • and little or no allowance is made for contamination into the system beyond what we measure today

This, in essence, is the key to the naturalistic philosophy. Naturalists observe the present condition of the universe and assume that what we see today is what has always been.

However, the flaw of this philosophy is that it rests upon a very tenuous foundation. If conditions have not always been the same as they are now or at the same rate, then the philosophy falls, as do the “proofs” for an old universe. You will often find that simply examining the assumptions will help you uncover the flaws.

Click here to read more about these examples:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I Thank God for my Family
I'm going to start a little mini-series here. Basically I want to let you in on my heart by sharing with you the things I love and am thankful for. These are in no particular order or degree of affection except to say that each of the things I love I thank God for. He is the reason - the only reason I have any good come to me. He is such a gracious and kind and forgiving God. I deserve a lot of pain for my God-neglecting ways, but all I get is mercy... unending mercy. These mercies are just a glimpse, just a tip of the iceberg, as it were.
I thank God for my wife. Where would I be without her! Probably not still in Japan. She has helped me to love Japanese people more and love life in Japan as well. She is so good with the boys - an amazing mother to our children. I praise God that she has decided to not work and instead invest in our kids!
My two boys are simply treasures to me. What amazing gifts they are. I love to spend time with them and see them start to learn and grow. I praise God for the time I have to invest in them each day.

Okay, this is just a random cute picture of my brother Doug and I, circa 1978 or so. I am so thankful for all my family. They are such great supports and sources of love, even though we do not even reside in the same continent. I am thankful for you and love you each! Thank you, God for them.
I Thank God for Iowa Football

Matt Chandler has said that getting emotionally involved with what 19-year-old boys do on a football field cannot be very helpful to him spiritually. After pondering that thought for a couple months, I think I would now have to respectfully disagree.

I don't think many would say it is wrong to get emotionally moved over a movie about a World War 2 hero who overcomes all odds to stay alive and see his loved ones. I would hope fewer would think it is unwise to become emotionally involved with one's spouse. Though emotional moments in this world may not always directly connect with our passion for God, they can and should move us to enjoy Christ more. They can and should point us to the grandeur and wonder of God in deeper ways. All of God's enjoyable gifts should be ones that allow our gaze to come back to the ultimate victory of the Savior and His amazing conquering passion on the cross which overcomes all foes.

With that in my mind I say, "Thank you God for football!" ... especially for the Iowa Hawkeyes this year. Though they are projected by many to lose on Saturday, it has been an emotional delight for me to see my old football team win, and keep winning. They are now 7-0 for the first time since 1985! Whereas in high school, this might have raised concern as a potential idol in my life, I now can enjoy Iowa's success and use it as a way to direct my gaze to the grand narrative of redemptive history - and future - in Christ. You see, I was made to get emotional over a hard fought win. It is not just the 19-year-old's story. It is my story. Through Christ, we are also defeating every foe, and it is not as a comfortable rich king in a palace - "through many tribulations you must enter the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22) Through blood and sweat and tears, those in Christ will overcome - just like the Hawkeyes. So again I say, "Thank you God for Iowa football". It points me to You and it points me to the story that You have put me on. I have need of endurance and of stamina and of perseverance. I too will overcome. I too will have the victory. But this victory has no next year. It is an eternal victory in Christ! Wow. Thank you God so so much.

Win or lose from here on out, the Iowa football team has already done much for me spiritually. And even if football isn't your thing, may we use all good things to point us to the giver and to the reason behind it all. But for those of you who live in Iowa, or are from Iowa, you may just enjoy this little highlight film.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Why Is God's Judgment So Shocking To Us?

I have been preparing to preach on Acts 5 and the story of Ananias and Saphirra on Tuesday night for our church's college/young adult gathering. This verse has stood out to me as significant.

Acts 5:5-6 - When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him.

This is just divine, on the spot, judgment. Seems pretty shocking doesn’t it? Ever asked yourself why that is our usual reaction?

Our presumptuous natures are quickly exposed. We simply assume that God is gracious.

This text should shine a huge light on the grace of God for us. You know why? All of us should end up like Ananias when we sin. Do you know anyone who has been killed on the spot by God? Not me. I can’t name a situation like this. Do we know anyone who probably deserves to be treated like Ananias? I do. I only need to look about as far as my own nose.

Our starting point as a people is not to ask, “God, why are you so good to me?” Our starting point is usually to take God graciousness for granted.

Do you ever get out of bed in the morning and thank God for the breath and life that he gives you that you don’t deserve?

John Piper has reminded me to marvel at the fact that God allows the sun to shine on a wicked city like Albuquerque. Day after day after day. All you have to do is turn on the news and see that if God was going to bring judgment on a city, Albuquerque would be first in line.

God doesn’t have to be gracious. Do we really believe that? If he was obligated to give grace, it would cease to be grace right?

So may we have a revolution of our minds so that this story is NOT that shocking. May our starting point be that we stand in awe of any sin that is forgiven as opposed to taking forgiveness for granted. May we seek to remember that God is not obligated to forgive anyone. He doesn’t HAVE to do it. He LOVES to do it because he loves to shine a huge light on his mercy but always remember that he doesn't have to.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Happiness in God

I believe many Christians today get hung up on the word "happiness". They think that God wants Christians to have a deep inner joy, but happiness, on the other hand, is a word for the worldly. They don't especially think that God wants them to be happy.

The following is a part of an e-mail I wrote to a fellow colleague as we discussed these things. I thought you might benefit from it also:

Recently I have been studying up a little bit on happiness/ gladness as presented in the Bible. Often times the word, "blessed" is used for deep and full joy/happiness. For example:

1 Tim. 1:11 "
in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted."

I think most people skip over this word, "blessed", as simply meaning "serene" or even as "recluse". I used to.

"Blessed" here means, "fully satisfied", "possessing the characteristic of deity". God, by definition is simply fully satisfied and full of deep and overflowing joy. It seems our word "enthusiasm" also comes from the two words, "en" and "theos", meaning the one who is enthused is literally, "IN GOD"! It is the glory of God (as we see in the above verse) to be the only one who can do all things, and thus is by definition God is a deeply satisfied, happy, joyful God. He chooses to take on our pain, but even over this He is sovereign. We can (and should) take on God's deep satisfaction, because we are in the Almighty God through Christ. All our pains and tragedies will work for our good. (Rom. 8:28)

Now if we really have all this satisfaction and joy and enthusiasm in God, our most natural outward response should be happiness and gladness. That is because our "happenstance" happens to be in Christ.

are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord, the shield of your help, and the sword of your triumph! Your enemies shall come fawning to you, and you shall tread upon their backs.” - Deut 33:29

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” - Is. 52:7

If we do not have this happiness/ gladness at all in our relationship with the Lord, it is a question if we really do know the Lord. We should pursue our own happiness in God and fight to keep it. We are commanded many times in the Bible to be happy/ glad in God:

1 Chronicles 16:31 (Show me 1 Chronicles 16)
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, and let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!”

Psalm 14:7 (Show me Psalm 14)
Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When the Lord restores the fortunes of his people, let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad.

Phil. 4:4 - Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, "rejoice"!

1 Thess. 5:16-18 - "Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Psalm 32:11 (Show me Psalm 32)
Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

Psalm 35:27 (Show me Psalm 35)
Let those who delight in my righteousness shout for joy and be glad and say evermore, “Great is the Lord, who delights in the welfare of his servant!”

Psalm 40:16 (Show me Psalm 40)
But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation say continually, “Great is the Lord!”

Psalm 48:11 (Show me Psalm 48)
Let Mount Zion be glad! Let the daughters of Judah rejoice because of your judgments!

Psalm 53:6 (Show me Psalm 53)
Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When God restores the fortunes of his people, let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad.

Psalm 67:4 (Show me Psalm 67)
Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. Selah

We are even threatened if we will not be happy in God:

47 "Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, because of the abundance of all things, 48 therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the Lord will send against you, in hunger and thirst, in nakedness, and lacking everything. And he will put a yoke of iron on your neck until he has destroyed you." - Deut. 28:47-48

It is clear that we are to enjoy God because this is precisely the thing that glorifies Him. Loving God but not enjoying Him is an oxymoron. We love/enjoy God and through this we glorify Him before all the world.

So, my conclusion is, if we speak clearly and Biblically, we should urge people to pursue their highest satisfaction and joy and happiness - in Christ. That is the only place abiding happiness will be found.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

My friend on Adoption
Zach Nielsen preaches on adoption - and shows us by his own example.

Untitled from Zach Nielsen on Vimeo.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Free Creation Video

Look here to download a free video from Ken Ham about the "Top Ten Questions About Genesis and Creation". After you click, use the coupon: ANSWERS44.

(They may ask for your credit card info. but I assure you that it is legit and you won't incur any costs.)
The God of This City

This is an older song, but it still moves me. There is no one like our God, and He will move and is moving in Japan and in around the world. He is moving around you and your life wherever you are. I encourage you to look for Him today!

Click here to view the video - it seems as if they won't let me post it.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Does God Exist?

While the quote from Einstein doesn't seem to be historical, the argument sure is a good one, and, I believe, the Biblically correct one. This also reminds me of Jonathan Edwards and his thoughts about how God can remain sovereign over free agents. (The Freedom of the Will)

(HT: Brian Neilson)

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Orphan Sunday
My friend Zach Nielsen recently made this video to show at the end of his message about adoption for Orphan Sunday. Zach and his wife Kim recently adopted a baby girl (you can see them at the end of this video.) It is exciting to see many of my good friends from college take up the call to adopt. I pray that this becomes a movement in Japan as well among Christians. Maki and I are thinking and praying about it ourselves.

DSC Video For Orphan Care Sunday from Zach Nielsen on Vimeo.

Though I Was Born an Orphan
My friend Eric Schumacher, whom I met in college, pastors a church in my hometown of Cedar Rapids, IA. He wrote this new song for Orphan Sunday. Be sure to check out the rest of the hymns he has written as well.

Though I was born an orphan,
Abandoned and alone,
Enslaved and bound in darkness,
Without a hope or home,
The God of grace and mercy
From his eternal throne
Ordained to be my Father,
To claim me as his own.

That I might be adopted
The Father sent his Son
To live in full obedience
And die for all I’ve done.
Now through his resurrection,
Through faith, with him I’m one.
A member of his household,
I am an heir, a son.

To soothe my fearful spirit
The Spirit from on high
Was sent to be a witness
That “Father!” I might cry.
O How I love this Father!
I’m never left alone.
For he comes to dwell with me
Until he calls me home.

If I have this adoption,
I cannot close my home
To widows and to orphans,
Abandoned and alone.
Lord, fill me with compassion
To love the fatherless,
That I might show the nations
How great my Father is!

(HT: brother Doug)

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Why the Bible is True
Voddie Baucham lets it loose. This is great stuff.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Orphan Sunday
Justin Taylor writes:
I’m thankful for the Orphan Sunday initiative and the folks who are laboring to equip the church to obey James 1:27. Watch the video below and consider what God might have you and your church do:

Orphan Sunday from Christian Alliance for Orphans on Vimeo.