Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Recent Family Adventures

Learning the Language of "Hug"
Japanese men don't hug. Even women rarely hug eachother, in my experience. Even so, everyone, (including every Japanese person I've ever met) loves hugs. I think most Japanese are relieved that Americans actually want to hug them and that (in this case) it is okay to "break" the cultural norm.

Well, if you ever want to be close friends with an American, (I'm speaking to my Japanese friends here) then you need to learn the language of the "hug". My good friend Mark Rood (living in Tokyo) instructs the BEST club here well. Go ahead, take some notes...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Recent Conversation with Agnostic Believers
The following is my response (and the resulting conversation) to the following facebook post from a non-Christian friend, Mr. B. I thought you might find it interesting. (Identities have been concealed for privacy.)

Mr. B:

The only purpose grand enough for a human life; not just to love but to persist in love.

"...Love endures all things. Love never ends" - 1 Cor. 13:7-8

Mr. M:
"But Sihon king of Heshbon would not let us pass through, for the Lord your God hardened his spirit and made his heart obstinate ... We took all his cities at that time, and we utterly destroyed the men, women, and little ones of every city; we left none remaining." - Deut. 2:30,34

Ms. H.:
Now that sounds like the Bible I know! The real truth IS brutal. That's the challenge --- To live and love despite the chaos.

Michael, if only you knew God's amazing love and grace personally. Everything would change!

Mr. M.:
I assume you're not referring to the amazing love and grace displayed by Yahweh in the section I quoted above.

Actually, yes I am. It is amazing grace and love that He didn't destroy Israel along with the Canaanites. They, and we, sure do deserve to be destroyed for our sins. "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord." - Romans 6:23. God is not only love, he is also just and fair. That is why Jesus went to the cross for our sins... they all deserve the death penalty before a holy God who deserves all love and focus. I pray you stop fighting against God and actually start to open your heart to his great love.

Ms. H:
For an all-powerful creator of the Universe, God sure does need lots of undying adulation from his mere mortal earthlings, don't you think? Seems a bit out of proportion. Sorry, not buying it.

Mr. M:
People who advocate the destruction of those whom they deem to be enemies of their deity are extremely dangerous.

Ms. H, you don't have to buy it. God wants the greatest joy for everyone, and only He can satisfy that desire deep inside us. Love gives the best to the beloved. God wants the absolute best for you, and so He gives us Himself for our joy. Apart from Him there is nothing but hell.

Mr. M, I don't advocate destruction of enemies, I advocate loving them so they don't have to face the just punishment that awaits any without Christ. I would die for my enemies.

Ms. H:
I do not believe you would literally die for your enemies. I find when someone talks "bible-ey" all the time, it's kind of scary. It's like they are trying to convince themselves that their "truth" is the only one. Gee, even Mother Theresa doubted at times. I can't help it if I question what I feel is not the real truth, but a man-made recollection of stories skewed to placate and promote personal agendas.

I'm sorry, I don't agree with you, Ms. H. I would die for my enemies because I already know where I am going - I am living now to help others. That is not to say it would be easy! But I trust that God would help me. I want my life to be one that reflects Christ's love. What a better way to die than in an act of love to others. About truth- by definition truth is narrow. I encourage you to keep seeking with an open mind and heart. God is so good, and He loves you too. I have experienced that He can be trusted fully.

One last note: I am so thankful for my friend (Mr. B) who "hosted" our conversation, and who doesn't see my Christianity as a personal attack on himself, but as a point of thought, discussion and reflection.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

You Can't Be Serious!
My friend and fellow Northern Iowa alum from 1998, Zach Nielsen writes:

UNI 69, Kansas 67 = the biggest win in Northern Iowa history. I graduated from UNI in 1998. I couldn't be more proud to be a Panther today.

For all of you who might not be well versed in basketball logic let me break this down for you. This shot that he takes here to basically put the game away is the most gutsy shot in the world. If he misses they will probably lose since Kansas was scoring at will.

What is crazy is that they had 30 seconds left on the shot clock with a one point lead. That means that since they had a one point lead they could have held the ball until there was about 5 second left on the clock, take a shot and if they make it then they would be up three and Kansas would only have 5 seconds to tie it up with a three which would have been tough. Based on this you would understand why most coaches would have had a heart attack seeing him pull up for this three pointer. But he made it!!! Game over. Insane. My kids thought I was on drugs as I was jumping all over the living room and screaming.

By far, this is the biggest win in UNI history. Kansas was picked by most to win the whole thing. They got beat by a bunch of farm kids from Iowa. So good.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Is Studying Theology Important?
Josh Harris tells you why it is.
(And introduces his new book Dug Down Deep)

DugDownDeep_Carnahan.mov from Covenant Life Church on Vimeo.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Did the Tim Tebow Super Bowl Ad Accomplish Anything?


Thank you, God!

(HT: Challies)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Darwin's Connection to Hitler
(Clip Taken from: Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed)

How Did Life on Earth Begin?
(Clip taken from the movie: Expelled- No Intelligence Allowed)
Where Are You Spending Time?
"Whether you are a doctor, a lawyer, or a businessman/business woman, you are human first. And the human connections - your relationships with spouses, children and friends are the most important investments you will ever make.
At the end of your life, you will never regret not closing another deal, not winning one more verdict, or spending more time at the office. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a child, a friend or a parent." - Barbara Bush

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Who is Jesus? Who Cares?

Here are some videos that explain who Jesus is, what the Bible says, and why you should care.

The Gospel = Good News

The Gospel is the basic message of the Bible. It tells us how we can get to know God. Listen carefully!

Gospel Graffiti - Billy Graham Video from clickpopmedia on Vimeo.

Nothing Else

Ever felt like you try to fill your life with so many things, but they still leave you empty? Listen to this song…

Matthew West - Nothing Else from John Schroter on Vimeo.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My two and a half year old's prayer tonight
"Abba, thank you...

for ladybugs,

and bread,

and raisins,

thank you for gorillas

and ants

and bees

and tables

and ants (2nd time)

and tissues

and polar bears

and thank you for cake

and cake...

I like cake. I ate cake with Ayumi-chan.
(He rarely gets to eat cake, so that must have been pretty special for him... Even though it was 3 days ago on Sunday, it gets 3 mentions in one prayer - beating out ants and ladybugs!)

Thank you for ladybugs (There it is... this is a daily favorite)

and Mommy (glad somebody made it into the list!)

and vegetables

and carrots

and brocollis (I guess he likes more than one... not bad!)

The Fatal Self-Contradiction of Naturalism

"Materialism gave us a theory which explained everything else in the whole universe but which made it impossible to believe that our thinking was valid." - C.S. Lewis

Charles Colson (in his book, How Now Shall We Live?) writes:
"Scientific naturalism is incoherent and self-contradictory, for scientists must exempt themselves from the very framework they prescribe for everyone else. All humans beings are reduced to mechanisms operating by natural causes - except scientists themselves. Why? Because to carry out their experiments, they must assume that they, at least, are capable of transcending the network of material causes, capable of rational thought, of free deliberation, of formulating theories, of recognizing objective truth. They themselves must form the single glaring exception to their own theory. This is the fatal self-contradiction of naturalism."

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

"Dolphins are People Too"
Peter Heck writes about the recent annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

His conclusion:
"But when you begin with the assumption that there is no Creator, the distinction of humanity quickly gets lost in a fog of philosophy. We blur lines that should otherwise appear clearly visible and get caught up in strange and bizarre arguments that lack any substantive grounding.

The end result is a society that would grant dolphins and apes the unalienable right to life while denying baby humans in the womb the same. That is the very definition of confusion...tragic confusion."

See how he works this out here.
Whatch U Lookin' At?

My Favorite March Madness Memories
My twin brother Doug's post inspired me to think about my favorite March Madness memories.

Monday, March 08, 2010

This is for all you Gaijins (Foreigners living outside Japan)
Living in Japan for almost 10 years now, I sometimes forget what seems
funny and strange to Americans who first come to Japan.
A newly retired pastor and his wife recently came to Japan as missionaries. (Great way to spend your retirement!) They couldn't believe that this road is actually used for cars...if you can fit, that is. By the way, this is not an unusually strange road for cars in Japan! So, you ask, have I ever gotten stuck between two walls on a road in Japan? Yes, but only a couple of times!

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Consider Supporting this Great Ministry

I would agree with these words by Jerry Johnston:
"I don't know Dr. Oh [personally], but as a missionary in Japan, I can attest to the truth of his words. It is almost impossible to find a church in any kind of central location in Japan. They are usually hidden away in remote areas where land and real estate is affordable. Please consider giving generously. The current economy means that prices for land and buildings are becoming affordable for churches in Japan. This country is in such great need to hear the Gospel, especially from other Japanese people. If you can't give, please PRAY. As mentioned in the video, the Protestant population of Japan is about .2%, with a total population of around 186 million. Japan needs Jesus, and needs your prayers."

If God leads you, here is where you can make an online donation.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Hear Jonathan Edwards Preach: Librivox.org

Have you ever wanted to hear Spurgeon, Whitefield or Edwards preach? Here is your chance. Use your commute to listen to all those books and sermons you never have time to read. Download free MP3 files of sermons and books written by these and many more famous preachers and authors throughout history. (Librivox.org)
R.C. Sproul Interviews Stephen Meyer

R.C. Sproul interviews Stephen Meyer, author of Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design, on philosophy, evolution, education, Intelligent Design, and more. The interview is about 45 minutes in length.
(HT: JT)

Friday, March 05, 2010

How Christian Education is Changing Lives

I count it a great blessing to be able to help raise up the next generation in Japan with the knowledge of Jesus and his love. At our Christian bilingual school (KIU) I am able to meet with and teach the same children (70% of whom are not from Christian families) for over four years within the confines of a small, safe and loving community. That is why it was wonderful for me to see this video about how Christian education changes lives by Gospel for Asia. Please pray for all of our dear children at KIU. Please pray that they could find what Ahanti found.
Labeling People unto God's Glory

Sometimes it is a necessary evil that we label people. Generalizations are never perfect and can always be misunderstood, and yet sometimes we must use them in order to sum up what we mean.

Recently on ABC News there was a piece about people who were upset about Rahm Emanuel, (the White House Chief of Staff) who had said the word, "retarded". (I find it interesting that these people were not also offended by the other words he used in this verbal barrage, but that is another story.) The offended parties felt it was hurtful to people who have Down's Syndrome and other mental disabilities. Regardless of that issue, it seems words that just like the word "retarded", words like, "idiot" and "moron" were once acceptable medical terms also.

I think in the world of Christianity we have some words that have similarly degraded over time. The word, "religious" was once a label to describe a Christian. Over time this word has become a negative word, meaning something closer to, "Pharisaical". The word "fundamentalist" has had a similar downward slide. Once meaning, "One who sticks to the fundamentals of the faith", now it can mean basically the same thing as "religious". I am wondering which word will be next.

So should we just stop using labels completely? As I said above, I think that is a little bit of an unrealistic goal. Rather, I believe we should, as far as it is possible, describe what we mean, especially when talking about other people. Let us, as far as it depends on us, live at peace with all men and strive to label people with love, sincerity and truth.

This video, from my friend Zach, shows Mark Driscoll doing that pretty well, I believe.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Report from Inside the Womb

(I translated this from my wife's blog)

I was traveling in the car yesterday with Noah (2 and a half), when suddenly he started to talk about when he was inside the womb. (I think it had to do something with the fact that we had looked at his birth pictures together the night before.)

Noah: Mommy, remember when I was in your tummy?

Maki: (I thought, "Wow, this could be an opportunity to talk about what life was like in the womb.") Of course I do, Noah. Could you hear Mommy when you were in there?

Noah: Yeah.

Maki: What was Mommy doing?

Noah: Mommy was laughing.

Maki: So were you happy inside Mommy?

Noah: I was sad.

Maki: Why? (Feeling kind of shocked)

Noah: It was loud.

Maki: Could you hear Daddy's voice?

Noah: Yeah, Daddy was happy.

How ever many times I asked and whatever way I asked it, Noah kept on saying that he was sad when he was in the womb. While I always heard that the most important thing was for the mom to be happy during the pregnancy, it seems that it not good to be too happy!

Later, Noah also made comments about how it was dark and warm inside the womb. I asked a number of questions to check if he really understood what he was saying, and each time the answer was the same without hesitation.

(end of translation)

I do remember Maki laughing a lot, as she tends to do... but I was still a little skeptical about this little exchange.

After hearing about this, I (Mark) decided to do some of my own investigating. While we were taking a bath together I asked Noah some questions:

Mark: Noah, were you happy in Mommy's tummy?

Noah: No.

Mark: Do you want to go back into Mommy's tummy or do you want to stay here?

Noah: I want to stay here.

Mark: Why?

Noah: I was sad in Mommy.

Mark: Are you happy now?

Noah: Uh-huh.

I don't know what to say about all of this. Do you think he really remembers? Either way, I think we will be a little quieter the next time Maki is pregnant!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Dunk of the Night
I love it.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Quote of the Day

"I am just a nobody telling everybody about Somebody who can save anybody!"

Taken from: iamnotashamed.org which is currently putting together the first online video Bible.