Friday, December 31, 2010
Irrational Rationalism Apart From Scripture
If you are a reader of this blog, you know that I believe that in these days scientism (a.k.a. the belief in the sufficiency of autonomous human reasoning) has a power over a majority of minds, including many Christian minds, in a number of unhealthy ways.
Reasoning power alone is a wonderful God-given blessing. Christians are called to administer this gift in a number of ways, especially to be able to give a reason for the hope that is in them. God also gives us logical reasons why we should listen to and follow Him throughout the Bible, in order to minister to our minds. He gives us many details in the Bible in order to help us know things truly and sufficiently, though because our minds are tainted by sin, never completely or fully in this life.
That is why I found these quotes from Dr. John Frame to be so wonderfully helpful in explaining some key facets of the problem of rational thinking apart from the certain guidance provided by God in Scripture.
Frame writes in his book, The Doctrine of the Word of God:
"irrationalism (is) the view that there is no ultimate meaning in the universe." (Basically the oxymornoic belief that we can hold to the "rational" in a universe devoid of any overarching meaning, purpose or order.)
"rationalism (is) the view that a godlike knowledge can be obtained from the creation alone." (Basically the oxymoronic belief that we can have true and sufficient rational knowledge through simply observing a creation we are also a part of.)
This last quote is the most revealing: "Of course, Satan and his followers embrace rationalism irrationally, for they have no right to insist that their minds are the ultimate criterion of truth. Similarly they embrace irrationalism rationalistically, assuming the ultimate authority of their own minds... That irrationality permeates the whole fabric of human knowledge. So we can understand how the assumption of intellectual autonomy destroys knowledge." (p.16 - Emphasis mine)
I urge us all to seek true and sufficient knowledge from the only One who truly knows.
Note: J.I. Packer, in his forward of this book, claims that it is the most indispensable book of our day on the nature of Scripture.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Do you want to increase your child's vocabulary and creativity?
My three-year-old son looked at me and said these words this morning, "O Man of the Sea, hearken to me! My wife Isabelle will have her own will and has sent me to beg a boon of thee."
If you have young children, I really recommend this site.
My sons have really enjoyed listening to the Brothers Grimm as well as Alice in Wonderland being read aloud. You can download hundreds of books, put to MP3 files FOR FREE. We burn them to CDs and let the boys listen to these when we have had enough of reading our own books to the boys. It has amazed me how fast Noah memorizes words and ideas (I don't think that is unusual for three-year olds!), and this is a wonderful way to immerse them in language! He has asked us many questions as a result of these CDs.
Monday, December 27, 2010
Sunday, December 26, 2010
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
I love John Piper. What he says about the Bible is almost always what the Bible in fact says. This little video reminds me though to beware of accepting everything any one man says, or quickly accepting as fact what I read in books, or what is seen to be as acceptable by the majority of the "reputable". One man never holds all truth, only God does, and truth is never determined by popular vote (unfortunately). The more I base my thinking on the Bible (just as John Piper usually does), the better off I will be.
Piper says, "Whatever science says it is, it is." Come on, John, really? What does science tell you about miracles? That they are not possible. What does science tell you about a virgin birth? Better get rid of your Christmas beliefs. The bigger issue is this: Science cannot tell us even one fact about the past, since by very definition, science concerns itself with what is testable and repeatable. Science does not give us all the answers, especially "historical science" based on the popular thoughts of men.
My friend Mark Rood highlights the growing financial problem for missionaries in Japan:
The price of a Big Mac in Tokyo is 680 yen. (complete with fries and a coke!) This has increased in the past several years by a few yen. No problem. The problem comes when in the same period the value of the dollar has dropped from from $1 = 120 yen in 2007 to this month’s rate of $1 = 82 yen. Ouch. That 680 yen burger at McDonalds which did cost $5.67 now costs $8.29! For the Japanese the change in the past few years has been a percent or two, but to us whose income is from the states, there is over a 30% increase.Of course the same is true of our rent, gasoline, food, water, electricity, and everything else. It has all basically has increased by about a 30% in the past few years.
Please pray for us and for the many others who are in the same situation.
I was greatly encouraged by this.
My brother Doug writes:
Dr. Tom Nettles, (is) widely regarded as one of the foremost Baptist historians in America.
Watch as Nettles unleashes this giant of a role model, trapped in the pages of history, for us all to spend a few minutes with, and thereafter long to follow.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Matthew 24:14 says, "And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." Matthew 28:19 says, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,"
It is clear, if you read the Bible, that God loves all nations! We, as followers of Jesus, should presumably love all nations as well!
What then, is a "nation" or "ethne" in the way Jesus used the word? (These days, in order to clarify the matter, we often hear the words, "people group".)
Ralph Winter writes:
"In March 1982 a group of mission leaders came together in Chicago for a meeting sponsored by the Lausanne Strategy Working Group. It was designed to help bring clarity and definition to the remaining missionary task. At no time before or since this meeting has as large or as representative a group gathered for two days to focus specifically upon the necessary definitions for strategy to reach the unreached peoples. Two basic definitions came from this meeting;
1. A People Group is 'a significantly large grouping of individuals who perceive themselves to have common affinity for one another because of their shared language, religion, ethnicity, residence, occupation, class or caste, situation, etc., or a combination of these.'
2. An Unreached People Group is 'a group within which there is no indigenous community of believing Christians able to evangelize this people group.'"
Now maybe some are thinking, "Well, if these groups have two or three Christians, then aren't they reached?" But let's step back to consider this more deeply. Without greater numbers of Christian support, these Christians themselves are in danger of losing their faith and or dying out.
More than this, let us consider:
Because Jesus loves all nations, we should love Muslim peoples. We should love communist-controlled peoples, we should love people groups that hate us! Because Jesus loves all nations, we should give ourselves to the task of REALLY reaching all nations, just as Jesus has promised they would be.
Well, where does Japan fit in? Japan is currently the second largest unreached people group in the world. For most this comes as a shock. Less than .5% of Japanese are evangelical Christians, and therefore Japanese do not have the numbers to effectively evangelize their own people group without significant outside help.
How could such an advanced country be so missed in the commission that God gave to all of his disciples, not to mention all of his disciples living today? If you would like more information on how you can pray for or help Japan, please leave your e-mail address in the comment section below and I will contact you.
One News Now:
But suggesting that reason alone is sufficient to direct behavior is intellectually dishonest. Human reason will always be guided by presuppositions. That is why civilizations like ancient Rome found it reasonable to murder handicapped children while we in the Western world find that to be abominable.
Jacoby noted that Roman philosopher Seneca the Younger wrote, "'We drown even children who at birth are weakly and abnormal,'...stressing that 'it is not anger but reason'" that provides justification for such an act. This horrific practice is the result of reason built upon a Godless foundation.
Read the whole thing.
This Christmas I am thankful for the Christian sub-culture, influenced by the Bible, that has directly and indirectly influenced both America and Japan in many ways.
Monday, December 20, 2010
Here is a must-read poem for men, especially young men, from a family nearly destroyed by porn:
I Looked For Love in Your Eyes
I saved my best for you.
Other girls may have given themselves away,
But I believed in the dream.
A husband, a wife, united as one forever.
Nervous, first time, needing assurance of your love,
I looked for it in your eyes
Mere inches from mine.
But what I saw made my soul run and hide.
Gone was the tenderness I’d come to know
I saw a stranger, cold and hard
Distant, evil, revolting.
I looked for love in your eyes
And my soul wept.
Who am I that you cannot make love to me?
Why do I feel as if I’m not even here?
I don’t matter.
I’m a prop in a filthy play.
Not an object of tender devotion.
Where are you?
But the hardness in your eyes does not.
You think I’m cold
But how can I warm to eyes that are making hate to someone else
Instead of making love to me?
I know where you are.
I’ve seen the pictures.
I know now what it takes to turn you on.
Women…people like me
Tortured, humiliated, hated, used
Images burned into your brain.
How could you think they would not show in your eyes?
Did you ever imagine,
The first time you picked up a dirty picture
That you were dooming all intimacy between us
Shipwrecking your marriage
Breaking the heart of a wife you wouldn’t meet for many years?
If it stopped here, I could bear it.
But you brought the evil into our home
And our little boys found it.
Six and eight years old.
I heard them laughing, I found them ogling.
Hands bound, mouth gagged.
Fisheye photo, contorting reality
Distorting the woman into exaggerated breasts.
The haunted eyes, windows of a tormented soul
Warped by the lens into the background,
Because souls don’t matter, only bodies do
To men who consume them.
My little boys
Laughing and ogling the sexual torture
Of a woman, a woman like me.
Someone like me.
An image burned into their brains.
Will their wives’ souls have to run and hide like mine does?
When does it end?
I can tell you this. It has not ended in your soul.
It has eaten you up. It is cancer.
Do you think you can feed on a diet of hatred
And come out of your locked room to love?
You say the words, but love has no meaning in your mouth
When hatred rules in your heart.
Your cruelty has eaten up every vestige of the man
I thought I was marrying.
Did you ever dream it would so consume you
That your wife and children would live in fear of your rage?
That is what you have become
Feeding your soul on poison.
I’ve never used porn.
But it has devastated my marriage, my family, my world.
Was it worth it?
(HT: Tim Challies)
Saturday, December 18, 2010
One News Now:
"Even though Gaskell says he is not a creationist, he claims he was passed over for the job at UK's MacAdam Student Observatory three years ago because of his religion"
Many Christians are quick to accept evolution (and millions of years) so as not to appear foolish in the eyes of secular "science". The problem: Christians are already foolish in the eyes of most secular scientists, regardless of what they think about evolution.
This article showed me again that we must stick with the Bible despite unwarranted attacks on our science and on our credentials. The issue is not science, the issue is a spiritual one. This age is increasingly resembling the time of Noah, along with the slander and abuse that he endured. The most foolish thing would be to give in to popular opinion at a time like this.
Read the whole article.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010
CNN recently interviewed Phillip Yancey.
CNN: How is the practice of Christianity different in China than in the U.S.?
Yancey: At my church, when something bad happens, people immediately ask God to fix it: get me a job, heal my aunt, whatever. I pray those same prayers, and I see nothing wrong with them. In China, though, I heard different prayers, not “God, take away this burden,” but “God, give me the strength to bear this burden.”
Tuesday, December 07, 2010
Friday, December 03, 2010
Monday, November 29, 2010
What an important message from Jerram Barrs:
When people spend time with us do they more often see us filled with love and joy, or do they more often see us disparaging situations and those we disagree with? As Christians, are we demonstrating the grace and love of God in our words about non-Christians, or does it feel better to poke fun at, look down on, or even sneer at those who do not yet get the gospel of grace? Have we forgotten that we are Christians because of God's sheer mercy and grace alone?
I encourage you to listen to Dr. Jerram Barrs speak on this crucial issue (Postmodernism and Culture Wars) here, for the sake of more effective witnessing in the future.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
If YOU were born into a fundamentalist Islamic family what would YOU want Christians in America to do? If YOU were born into a family of a Shinto priest, how would YOU want Christians in America to respond? Knowing what you know today, certainly you would want them to share with you about eternal life through the Savior of the world Jesus Christ. Certainly you would want them to bring the Gospel to their nation and teach them about salvation for their souls and about eternal life. Certainly you would want churches and Christians in other nations to sacrifice financially to send missionaries to teach you the Bible, God's Word to this world.
But again, by the grace of God, you WEREN'T born into those circumstances. You were born into your own. So you can ignore what COULD HAVE BEEN and just continue in the circumstances you have been given by God's grace. Or you can choose to recognize that you are who you are, that you are saved, that you are blessed, that you are undeservedly loved— only by the grace of God— and choose to do all that is in your power to help those in need. To invest the blessing of your education for those who have none. To invest the blessing of your finances to help those who have little or none. To invest your spiritually blessed life to help those around the world who are lost without Christ to hear the good news of Jesus Christ.
Takanori Oba is a young man who was born in Japan, the largest unreached nation of the world. He was born to a father who when he would get drunk took out his anger by beating his son and throwing golf balls at his head. In the evening when his father returned to their apartment Takanori would quickly turn out his light and pretend to be sleeping hoping to avoid a whipping by his father's belt. Perhaps you are thinking, "Thank God that I wasn't born into a life like his." Eventually Takanori and his mother escaped their father and home to start a new life. Years later the grace of God reached down to Takanori Oba and saved his soul. He later became the first graduate of Christ Bible Seminary in Nagoya, Japan where I serve as president. During the second year of his studies he was able to visit his abusive father, seeing him for the first time in over 15 years. When he saw his father, God gave Taka a logic-defying compassion for the man who had caused him such pain.
Why was Takanori born into his circumstances? Was it a curse? No, it was the grace of God. And today Takanori is seeking to share that same grace with the father who abused him. That's what Takanori would have wanted if he were born into his father's circumstances. That's the Golden Rule.
Friday, November 26, 2010
Overcoming Spiritual Barriers in Japan
Do you want to know more about how you can effectively pray for Japan?
I want you to know! I will be giving away one free copy of this book to a random reader of this blog. If you want to be registered for the drawing, just include your first name and your physical and/or e-address in the comment section below.
Here is a blurb about the book:
"More workers, more money or better methods will not help a situation that is a result of spiritual strongholds. When Christianity landed on the shores of Japan 450 years ago, Japanese people were so attracted to the Gospel that they chose torture and death rather than renounce their faith. Today, Japanese people seem indifferent to the message of salvation. What changed?"
Note: The give-away will end on Dec. 3, Japan time.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Occasionally I am asked by Japanese people, "Do you think you will go back home someday?" That is always a difficult question to answer. I know they mean, "Do you think you will go back home (to the states) someday?" But it never really comes into my heart in that way.
A fellow missionary friend sums up my own thoughts nicely:
There is a “home” that is very comfortable and that we can easily fit into and be “normal people.”
[Then] we have our “home” here in this land where 2 of our 3 kids were born and where much of our heart is now. This home isn’t always comfortable, and we don’t often easily fit in, but yet we are here now and this is what God has us for now.
Finally, there is a third “home” - and that is our true HOME (and the greatest home). Hebrews 13:14 speaks of it this way, “For here we have no lasting city (or HOME), but we seek the city that is to come.”
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Richard Dawkins is perhaps best known for his much-cited comment that evolution "made it possible to be an intellectually satisfied atheist." With the steady growth of atheism in America and Europe, it would seem that many are increasingly being "satisfied" by this bankrupt theory.
For most Christians one major part of our stories is coming to the point of seeing our need for Christ. We realized that the we were unsatisfied with the things of this world, both spiritually and intellectually.
To an atheist the material world is all there is. It would seem then that Christians, who truly love God and others, should be making it an aim to help others see how materialism is an unsatisfactory belief, in every way. If Christians can show the complete moral, spiritual and intellectual bankruptcy of the theory of abiogenesis/evolution, we could in many ways begin to reverse the secularizing damage that has been already been afflicted on so many.
Sure, evolution, like the love of money, is not the root of all evils. It is simply one of the major roots of deception around us today. However, taking out this massive and cancerous root of deception, I believe, will surely take an increasingly central role in the ministry of Christians around the globe as time goes on.
In football it is all or nothing, win or lose with no points for close games (unfortunately for my Iowa Hawks today!)
How about life? I sometimes wonder, are all my little efforts for anything lasting? Does it really count or matter what I do in secret? If my efforts are not seen or praised by other people, do they still matter?
If God does not exist, all my efforts and good deeds (seen or unseen) eventually count for absolutely nothing! The most giving, kind, powerful, influential, famous and historical figures will someday all vanish from all recollection and remembrance. Without God everything is finally and absolutely meaningless and vain; in other words it is nothing - just chemical reactions. However with God, faith as small as a mustard seed will give us a perfect score and record in heaven (through Christ's work) for all eternity! Not only that, but we will have an eternity to celebrate the victory in Christ! For my money, that is a better bet than any college football team!
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Have you ever wondered why some people come to Jesus as their Savior and Lord, and some do not? How can some hear the good news of Christ all their lives and never come to a true saving faith, and how can others hear the message for only a short time and become fully convinced of the rightness and truth of the message?
John Piper writes:
"Why don’t people come to Jesus? At one level the answer is because they “refuse to come.” In other words, people do not want to come. Some call this the choice of free will. Jesus would probably say it is the choice of a will enslaved to sin. “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin” (John 8:34). Jesus would say that people do not come to him because they are enslaved to their supreme preference for other things. “The light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light . . . everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light” (John 3:19-20).
How then has anyone ever come, since we are all enslaved to sin and spiritually dead? Jesus’ answer was that God, in his great mercy, overcomes our resistance and draws us: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44). “No one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father” (John 6:65). God grants the gift of new birth and repentance, which opens the eyes of the spiritually blind to the truth and beauty of Jesus. When this happens, all suicidal objections fall. We are finally free. And, finally free from slavery, we come."
I thank God for his powerful work among my Japanese brothers and sisters. I truly see his work in you!
Monday, November 15, 2010
When I first came to Japan this book was a life-saver.
In America, the fundamental social fiction is "You and I are equal and we are all friends." This fiction -- and its corollaries -- explain much of American behavior (such as employees calling their bosses by their first name or the President telling jokes on TV) which is otherwise bewildering to Japanese people.
The corresponding fundamental fiction in Japan is "You are great and I am not very good." This social fiction (along with its corollaries) explains Japanese behavior that is equally puzzling to Americans (such as putting visiting guests alone in the backseat of the car).
Here are some other "polite fictions" further explained in the book:
Americans tend to converse casually with strangers. Japanese tend to converse very formally with strangers.
U.S. - You and I are individuals. We make independent decisions. / Japan - You and I are a part of the same group. We make decisions as a group.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
I have really enjoyed reading this book to my students during the Thanksgiving season. What a great story about God working through horrible situations. Eric Metaxas wrote this children’s book called Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving, which includes the story of Squanto's Christian faith.
You can jump over to my friend Justin Taylor's blog for a stream of the abridged version.
Friday, November 12, 2010
I love this guy. Chris Caligiuri has been, and is, one of my best friends on the planet. Reason? He is so real, and so full of the gospel of grace. Be blessed as you enjoy this funny, real and life-giving message.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Everyone, even secular film producers, instinctively know that the death of animals is a horrible thing.
I was watching Planet Earth (a BBC documentary) today when this scene came up. The filming crew later said that it grieved them to watch the behavior of the lions. Why? Why should natural and "normal" processes grieve anyone? Does the "death" of plants produce the same reaction? Of course not. And therein lies a huge problem for those who do not believe the Bible as well as for those who want to insert millions of years into the Biblical text.
Read more here and here.
Talking about his recent dealings with BioLogos Dr. Al Mohler writes:
"Virtually every form of theological liberalism arises from an attempt to rescue Christian theology from what is perceived to be an intellectual embarrassment - whether the virgin conception of Christ, the historicity of the miracles recorded in the Bible, or, in our immediate context, the inerrancy of Scripture and the Bible’s account of creation."
Hebrews 2:1 warns us, "Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it."
Read the whole article.
Monday, November 01, 2010
Thursday, October 28, 2010
I have been enjoying teaching my 4-5 grade students about Astronomy lately. It is amazing to think that although the Bible is such an ancient book, it always gets scientific information right. Take for instance Astronomy. The Bible makes some claims that would have been pretty outlandish to the ancient reader, and in the case of #3, outlandish even 60-70 years ago:
1. The Earth is Round
(Job 26:10, Isaiah 40:22)
2. The Earth Floats in Space
3. The Universe is Expanding
2 Sam 22:10 Job 37:18 Isaiah 51:13
Psalm 18:9 Isaiah 40:22 Jeremiah 10:12
Psalm 104:2 Isaiah 42:5 Jeremiah 51:15
Psalm 144:5 Isaiah 44:24 Ezekiel 1:22
Job 9:8 Isaiah 45:12 Zechariah 12:1
Job 26:7 Isaiah 48:13
Read the details here, along with some reasons to think twice about believing the Big Bang Theory.
Monday, October 25, 2010
What an amazing couple of days at the Franklin Graham Festival in Osaka.
I was amazed by:
1. The turn-out (about 7-10 thousand each night for three nights)
2. The quality of music (probably the best quality I've ever heard in my life - not kidding)
3. By the response of the people (as you can see many people went forward to receive Christ - for three nights in a row).
The people that went forward are now being followed up on by various churches in the area with very good materials. In addition to the people that came forward, four-hundred others also became Christians through the Christian training seminars that were put on in the months proceeding the festival. It is exciting to think of future home-grown festivals that we will be able to put on as a result of what we learned from this one. Thank you for your prayers!
Official results are in:
- During the three day festival 30,786 people participated.
- About 2,500 came forward for the invitation.
- A little over 50% came to receive the Lord Jesus Christ into their lives.
- The remaining people of the group that came forward did so for (1) reassurance of their eternal life or (2) rededication of their lives for the Lord.
During the four week Christian Life & Witness Course 420 seekers made a decision for the Lord Jesus.
Please pray that the budget of 1.5 million dollars will be met.
Friday, October 22, 2010
Josef Ton, the former pastor of the largest Baptist church in Romania (now living in exile):
"I came to the conclusion that there were two factors which destroyed Christianity in Western Europe. One was the theory of evolution, and the other, liberal theology... Liberal theology is just evolution applied to the Bible and our faith."
James and Marti Helfley, in their book, By Their Blood: Christian Martyrs of the 20th Century, write:
"New philosophies and theologies from the West also helped erode Chinese confidence in Christianity. A new wave of so-called missionaries from mainline Protestant denominations came teaching evolution and a non-supernatural view of the Bible... The Chinese intelligentsia who had been schooled by orthodox evangelical missionaries were thus softened for the advent of Marxism. Evolution is destroying the church and society today, and Christians need to be awakened to that fact."
For the third time in just over one month, President Obama has refused to include any mention of the "Creator" in his recitation of the Declaration of Independence.
The Founders believed that "all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness."
Repeatedly now the president has simply said Americans are endowed with certain rights, but persistently refuses to acknowledge with the Founders that these rights are a gift from God.
He stripped God from our founding document on September 15 (video here) when speaking to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute. He did it again on September 23 at a fundraiser in New York City. And he did it yet a third time on Monday night at in Rockville, Md. when speaking to Democratic Senate candidate donors.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
A 73-year-old man in Tokyo, whose wife died sometime ago, exchanged vows with a 69-year-old woman who had agreed to live with him.
Thinking of the mistakes they made in their first marriages, they worked hard at it and typed out 18 pledges to each other, including:
We acknowledge the differences in our sense of values and ways of thinking.
We individually own the articles in our respective rooms and keep our respective bank passbooks, but share expenses.
We will enjoy our life together to the fullest.
If one of us gets angry, he or she will pay a penalty of 10,000 yen. (US$118; GB£75; R800)
“We have separate families and separate assets built up over the years,” the man said. “The 18 promises we made to each other reflect our desire to ensure that our new life doesn't conflict with our prior lives established from before.” The woman agreed and their children on both sides agreed.
True believers in Christ do not agree to live together just by a set of rules, as a directive for happiness. The standard of the Bible is much higher that that!
just as Christ loved the church
and gave himself up for her
(Ephesians 5:25, NIV).
When Jesus made a covenant with us, He held nothing back, not even His life!
If a couple cannot give of themselves freely in a marriage covenant, perhaps the marriage should be re-considered.
Trusting your spouse completely is the essence of a satisfying marriage!
(From Neil Verwey, missionary in Japan)
Saturday, October 16, 2010
My good friend Trey Rowzie writes:
Please pray for:
- A Great Harvest
(Many would come with expecting hearts, hear the Good News, turn to the living God, and be saved)
- Laborers for the Harvest Field
(Many hard-working volunteers before, during, and after the events; at the venue and behind the scenes)
- Working as One Body
(Wise leadership, clear communication, strong unity)
- Protection from the “Wolves”, “Foxes”, and “Bugs”
(Personal security issues, equipment/facility problems, software bugs, etc.)
- God's Glory
(For all that we do and the way we do it to exhalt our Heavenly Father)
For more information on the Festival:
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
The Mistakes of Scientism
After refuting the claim by Hawking and Mlodinow (The Grand Design) that natural laws are consistent with creation appearing from nothing, J.P. Moreland explains why the influence of Hawking and Mlodinow’s claims are troubling:
In previous times when average people knew more philosophy, these claims would simply be laughable because they are philosophical assertions being made by scientists who have little or no philosophical training. Thus, however brilliant they are in their own field, Hawking and Mlodinow are laypersons when it comes to the relevant issue at hand.
But we live in a scientistic culture. When a scientist speaks, he is taken to be an authority irrespective of what the topic is. And that attitude reflects poorly on the educational level of the public.
Thus, the deeper issue for me in all this is not whether or not the universe could come into existence from nothing without a cause. It is, rather, the scientism that lies at the heart of Western culture. I have long believed that philosophical naturalism, with its unjustified scientism, has helped to create an intellectually unsophisticated culture, and this is one reason why I think this way.
Friday, October 08, 2010
A few days ago on my way to work I overheard a crow and a sparrow. As I did, I began lamenting the lack of songbirds in Japan. "If only there was a nice song to start my day, instead of this rude and abrasive cawing and chirping all the time!" I began to notice right away that my heart was wrong and apologized to God for my lousy attitude.
Later that week I was watching a biology DVD that mentioned songbirds: "Songbirds mostly like to sing among the trees. Besides mating, these birds honestly just like to make music, if they are in the right environment."
Later that day, I was riding my mountain bike and decided to take a different route - a more scenic route and a more relaxing route - among the trees and fields. As I did, I suddenly heard in the trees above a songbird merrily piping a beautiful tune. I stopped to listen and soak up the beauty. As I did I felt God speaking to me: "This is why you need time away in the trees and the fields also."
I encourage you to take time to immerse yourself in God's creation during this fall also, and let your heart sing again. I know mine did.
Thursday, October 07, 2010
Wednesday, October 06, 2010
Dads are the 'Supermen' students needThe new documentary, Waiting For Superman seems to be a good one.
Roland C. Warren:
The film's title is intended to be a metaphor: America's schoolchildren wait for a savior to come and fix a system that prevents kids from achieving their potential, in the same way people would wait for Superman to arrive at the last minute to save a runaway school bus about to plunge off a bridge...
Of the five families portrayed in "Waiting for 'Superman,'" the father appears to be living in the home in three of them. And only one of those dads says a word on camera throughout the film. His daughter, Daisy, incidentally, seems to be the most ambitious and least troubled of the group.
All of the other family interviews are with moms and grandmothers. Dad is in the background. Education is apparently mom's territory. In one scene, a mom is shown trying to help her three young children do their homework. Where is the father? Another mom is struggling to keep her apartment and pay parochial school tuition. Where is the father?
As many as eight in 10 children in many of our nation's most disadvantaged neighborhoods live in father-absent homes. Study after study confirms children from father-absent homes are twice as likely to drop out of school, twice as likely to repeat a grade, less likely to enjoy school, less likely to be read to on a daily basis, less likely to get A's and more likely to misbehave in school.
Read the rest here.
Tuesday, October 05, 2010
Friday, October 01, 2010
Here are a few of the points addressed, along with my suggestions included:
Noah's Ark "story": Sadly, Christians are as guilty as anyone else for making the historical Biblical narrative of Noah into just a "story", or as O'Reilly says here, "an allegory". The Bible is emphatically not an allegory, and when allegory is applied in the Bible, it is used clearly as allegory- even introduced as such. (Galatians 4:24) If the text is read as it stands, we have no problem seeing that the account of the flood is to be taken as real history. This testimony is reinforced by the hundreds of ancient legends all over the world about a world-wide flood. The only way to explain that is that a world-wide really did wipe out everything!
There are "stories that are untrue": Because many have rejected the flood for evolutionary dating, we MUST accept that Noah's flood story is at some point untrue. However, if we take the Bible at face value, we come to a fossil record that can only be accounted for by a world-wide flood. As Maher said, the Bible is the "Word of God" and should be read as such.
"How about killing your neighbor if you see him working on a Sunday":
O'Reilly tries to switch the topic instead of addressing this legitimate concern/question. Obviously Maher is not out to get his questions answered, he is simply out to make people (who believe what the Bible says) look stupid. Unfortunately, O'Reilly does what many Christians do by neither addressing his question or his motivation- he goes right to the New Testament alone. Only THAT is important, they say. The O.T. is too hard to understand, right? Well, is it? This surely was not Jesus' approach. He affirmed and upheld the Law and the Prophets as being fully inspired by God, without error. Jesus wasn't afraid of looking stupid, neither was Paul.
(For some ideas on how I would answer Maher's question, look here. If Maher would accept his own premise, that the Bible is written by God, there would obviously be things that would seem, at first, to make "no sense" to finite, sinful humans.)
"Nobody can explain [our origins] but it doesn't mean we should make up stories like children to explain it."
This is the most laughable comment made in the whole piece. Unlike the agnostic (i.e. unknowing) story of macro-evolution - the fairy tale for grownups, the Bible is the only first-hand historical account of our origins. Therefore believing the Bible is not, like O'Reilly says, a "leap of faith". Indeed Christians put faith in God, but this is based on actual experience with God Himself, and an overwhelming amount of logical evidence to go with it (fulfilled prophecies, archeological findings, internal and external textual evidence etc.). Maher, on the other hand, believes implicitly in things in which he has no experience, nor any good evidence to believe. The driving factor for him, and for atheists in general, is that he does not want to believe in God. Romans 1:18 makes it clear that we all know there is a God by the created things we see around us, but we push away that truth so that we can do what we want to do. So in fact Maher's accusation falls on his own head: He is creating a fantasy world for himself so that he can do whatever he wants without God.
Instead of condemning Maher, it must be said that all of us do that same thing at times and therefore we all need the grace of God! My goal in a conversation like this would not be to end like O'Reilly did, but allow Maher to see the joy that I have in God and point him to this very loving God that can save him.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
One concept that is rarely mentioned in the evolutionary storytelling is the origin of sexual reproduction (sex). Asexual reproduction is a very effective method of reproduction compared to sex.
The origin and maintenance of sex and recombination is not easily explained by natural selection. Evolutionary biology is unable to reveal why animals would abandon asexual reproduction in favor of more costly and inefficient sexual reproduction. Exactly how did we arrive at two separate genders-each with its own physiology?
"The first sex cells may have been.... By chance, some may have been.... Perhaps some were.... Over time, the.... It is little wonder that, in their more candid moments, evolutionists admit, as Ackerman eventually did, that “when it comes to sex, we inhabit a mystery.” (1)
Lewis Thomas, the highly regarded medical doctor who served for many years as the president and chancellor of the prestigious Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan, was unable to contain either his enthusiasm or his praise for the system we know as “sexual reproduction.” In his book, The Medusa and the Snail, he wrote about the “miracle” of how one sperm cell forms with one egg cell to produce the cell we know as a zygote, which, nine months later, will become a newborn human being. He concluded:
‘The mere existence of that cell should be one of the greatest astonishments of the earth. People ought to be walking around all day, all through their waking hours, calling to each other in endless wonderment, talking of nothing except that cell.... If anyone does succeed in explaining it, within my lifetime, I will charter a skywriting airplane, maybe a whole fleet of them, and send them aloft to write one great exclamation point after another around the whole sky, until all my money runs out." (1)
Dr. Thomas’ money is perfectly safe. No one has been able to explain—from an evolutionary viewpoint—the origin of sex, the origin of the incredibly complex meiotic process that makes sex possible, or the intricate development of the embryo (which is itself a marvel of design).
Read more here.
Marital sex is a beautiful thing that we should cherish and uphold with God. We should learn WHY it was created so that we can savor it the way it was meant to be savored.
Learn more here.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Sunday, September 26, 2010
What a blessing it was to have my good friend, Rudy V. come and share with my science students on Friday about flying airplanes. The kids loved it, and the good news of God was clearly shared in many ways. What a beautiful thing to see God working among us.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
"A Conversation with Your Child about Why Bad Things Happen"
On multiple levels I really recommend this book to you.
In a solidly biblical, straightforward and easy to understand way, this book brings out truth for your kids (and yourself!) that will warm their
hearts to God's goodness and sovereign plan.
"Explaining illness and death to children is one of the most difficult tasks adults undertake. This heartwarming story by Stacia McKeever explains sickness and death in a wonderfully sensitive way. Readers are introduced to Emily, whose friend, Keiko, has leukemia. Through a conversation with her parents, Emily comes to understand why the world is the way it is. From a discussion of the first two people, Adam and Eve, through an explanation of death, sin and spiritual rebirth, Emily is comforted in the knowledge that God cares very much for her friend."
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
A Franklin Graham Festival is much larger than the few days of the actual event. Please pray that the months of work and partnership among churches and training among Christians throughout the Kansai region of Japan will result in a large harvest this October 22-24, as Franklin Graham and others come to minister here. As you may know, less than 1 % of Japanese are Bible-believing Christians.
Saturday, September 18, 2010
My brother Doug writes:
"My friend, Eric Schumacher, in collaboration with David Ward (and others) through the ministry of Reformed Praise, just released their latest album, Merciful to Me. It was co-produced by David Ward and Steve Cook (of Sovereign Grace Music). It contains the vocals of Devon Kauflin, Shannon Harris, Jake Armerding, Lucia Newell, and others, as well as a host of great instrumentalists from around the country. The 13 tracks are an eclectic mix of styles, including bluegrass, pop, classic jazz, driving rock, and orchestral arrangements. This album is rich in the deep realities of the gospel."
Personally, I really enjoyed the song, O Jesus, but every song makes me sing! Eric and company not only have a great heart for God and the deep doctrines of grace, they also know how to make amazing music.
Doug's Worship Pastor, Benjamin Brainard, also reviewed the album and gave this recommendation:
This CD has been encouraging to my soul and is filled with lyrics that enjoy the full realm of the Christian life. I think of Sovereign Grace, Sandra McCracken, Fernando Ortega, Indelible grace, Red Mountain Church, CD’s when I hear this. Some songs are meant for contemplation, and others for congregational worship. I do enjoy the stylistic variance throughout the CD. If you want a CD to worship to, or to be encouraged by, compliment your collection with this one.
Eric just created a special coupon code ("Japan") for readers of this blog to receive 20% off the album! Simply go to the website, purchase the album (CD or download) and enter the coupon at checkout. This coupon will not expire, but it is good only for those purchasing the album in Japan.*
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Quote of the Day
He who forgets the humming of the bees among the heather, the cooing of the wood-pigeons in the forest, the song of birds in the woods, the rippling of rills among the rushes, and the sighing of the wind among the pines, needs not wonder if his heart forgets to sing and his soul grows heavy.
A day’s breathing of fresh air upon the hills, or a few hours, ramble in the beech woods? umbrageous calm, would sweep the cobwebs out of the brain of scores of our toiling ministers who are now but half alive. - C.H. Spurgeon
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
"Two problems prevent anyone from legitimately calling evolution a theory. First, there is no direct, observable experiment that can ever be performed. Scientists can measure bones, study mutations, decode DNA, and notice similarities in morphology (the form and structure of animals and plants), but they can never test evolutionary events in the past.
Some point to natural selection as a form of “evolution in action,” but natural selection can only act upon the genetic potential that already exists. What we do observe from natural selection fits perfectly with a recent creation and does not point to common descent.
Secondly, and related to the above, evolution misses the mark as a theory because all the supposed “tests” to confirm Darwinism do not necessarily and distinctively correspond to the idea. In other words, each has an alternate and equally viable explanation. A theory requires that the confirming experiments correspond to one specific hypothesis. Otherwise, the experiment cannot establish legitimacy. Evolution has no such legitimacy."
Monday, September 13, 2010
DANGER OF NOISELESS CARS
For the first time in automobile history, carmakers who have been trying to make cars quieter, will try to make their cars noisy! If they run too quietly, pedestrians may fail to notice them approaching!
HVs (Hybrid Vehicles) make hardly any sound when they are driven slowly. The Toyota Motor Corp.'s ‘Prius’ makes a sound of about 30 decibels which is as quiet as a whisper. Experts are concerned that visually impaired people may fail to notice the vehicles approach due to this quietness.
The transport ministry is paving the way for HVs to make artificial sounds in order to insure safety on the streets. The ministry has set up a committee comprising of university professors and other experts, to address this problem. However, experts point out that the task will not be easy.
“We want carmakers to individually make efforts to develop their own sounds, and we hope such a situation will automatically narrow down good ones,” a senior ministry official said. “We don't want them to make background music as used in stores or other sounds that could be mistaken for something else other than cars.”
I was thinking if recording someone saying, "VROOM, VROOM" would be a good idea. Any thoughts?
Source: Yomiuri News, 2010-04-10
Monday, September 06, 2010
September marks ten years since I first came to Japan. It is amazing to think about all the Lord has done since I first came here as a naive 24 year-old foreigner. Though we may not see all of what God has done in those ten years, it is enough to know that He continually has given me a heart and a love for the precious people of Japan, and that it is a pleasure to give my life away for them every day.
More than 99% of Japanese are like sheep without a shepherd, going about life trying to find the best way, and yet lost, and starving, and dying. Every day more and more are suffering and dying. They do not know the wonderful food - the love, peace, and joy of God that surpasses all understanding, both in greatness and in duration. It is my longing for my dear brothers and sisters in Japan to know that, and to know Him personally. Please pray with me that they would; that their eyes would be open and that they would seek and find God through Christ Jesus.
"For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." - 2 Cor. 5:14-17
Sunday, September 05, 2010
Today our hometown of Kyotanabe, Japan made the highest temperature ever recorded in September in Japan. For those of you who don't know, Japan had the hottest temperatures in 100 years this summer. We were thankful to be in America until now at least (and happy to be in the air-conditioning all day here)!
Two other times our hometown was the hottest temperature in Japan this summer!
Thursday, September 02, 2010
Alleged, a new Hollywood movie to be released in theaters soon, reveals how the major media delivered a distorted view of the trial in an attempt to attack biblical Christianity. The film "provides a counter to the anti-creationist play Inherit the Wind (1955) and its subsequent namesake films (1960 and after)."
Friday, August 27, 2010
God’s Plan in Car Troubles
God has been outdoing us in showing love (as usual) even in our troubles. We know that God is sovereign & in control of all things. But that is more difficult to believe when troubles come!
On August 7th we set out for a two week trip.
My dad had his car serviced and ready for us to take. (Thank you, Dad!) We made it within a quarter mile of our destination in Des Moines before the car started to overheat! What a blessing this didn’t happen on the side of the interstate with our two little boys! We were able to get to the church safely and then without my asking, my friend Marc offered to help us. To make a long story short, God allowed us to spend time with our good friend and his new wife, go to their church the next morning and get the car fixed for free! Without our car problems we would not have experienced any of these gifts of grace.
A few days later we arrived in KY to visit my twin brother, Doug and his family. While
there, our parked car was side-swiped and so we were given an extended stay with Doug and with our good friends, the Vaughans! The Vaughans have special missionary
housing, including a pool and 18 acres of land. It truly was an oasis for tired people! We want to personally thank each of these great people for their love and help. We also thank God for getting us safely back, in His timing... especially when we later found out the tie rod to the front wheel was not even fastened on tight! God truly spared our lives and gave us multiple opportunities to praise Him and love others.
And to think it all came through our troubles.