Monday, February 28, 2011

Please Pray for Japanese Men

Japanese men are a small minority among the already small number of Christians in Japan. It isn't hard to see why:

1. Men have no time.
Once men get a job most are more married to their work than to their own spouse. Because the work week is so grueling, it is unusual for men to even have the energy to get up on Sunday much less attend church.

2. It is not culturally acceptable.
For men to open up their hearts or show themselves to be weak or vulnerable in any way is considered culturally unacceptable, especially in regard to religion. Imagine the man's man of the 1950s in America and then multiply that by a hundred. That is the "samurai spirit". The pressures to conform are also great beyond comparison.

3. Temptations are everywhere.
While the internet has become a global problem for purity, the easy availability of prostitution and the cultural acceptability of many kinds of sexual immorality has always been a problem for Japanese men, single or married. Married men often do not have the time or the energy to develop even a decent relationship with their wives. Single men often choose to live alone in order to make their temptations easier to live with.


Through the grace, mercy and love of Christ, all of these barriers can be transformed for God's glory. God loves to act as we pray in His Name, for His glory. He wants to use us to model something so much better!
How to make sense of it? Denny Burk does a fine job at succinctly summing up the Biblical doctrine in response to Rob Bell's new book. I really recommend reading this.
(HT: JT)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Brad Pitt and God

John Piper writes:

In a 2007 interview for Parade, actor Brad Pitt describes how he stumbled, as C.S. Lewis and Michael Prowse and Erik Reece before him, over God’s ego.

Pitt was raised a conservative Southern Baptist. For a while, his religion worked. But not for long.

Religion works. I know there's comfort there, a crash pad. It's something to explain the world and tell you there is something bigger than you, and it is going to be alright in the end. It works because it's comforting. I grew up believing in it, and it worked for me in whatever my little personal high school crisis was, but it didn't last for me.

Why not? He points to the ego of God.

I didn't understand this idea of a God who says, “You have to acknowledge me. You have to say that I'm the best, and then I'll give you eternal happiness. If you won't, then you don't get it!” It seemed to be about ego. I can't see God operating from ego, so it made no sense to me.

So there it is again.

God is infinitely wise, just, holy, strong, and good. But God’s command that we see him for what he is, and be glad about it, is the reason Pitt found God unintelligible. God’s god-ness has always been the main problem.

There is an answer to the seeming egomania of God, and his demand that we embrace him as the supreme—and supremely satisfying—Treasure of the universe:

Reason #1 — He is supremely valuable and supremely satisfying.
Reason #2 — Receiving him as such is the only way we will find full, everlasting joy.
Reason #3 — Therefore, his demand that we do so is love, not egomania.

Pray for the thousands of Brad Pitts to see that God’s demand for worship is a demand that we enjoy what is supremely enjoyable.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Power of Prayer
This looks like a great series for kids. Does anyone have any details about it? (On the second video you need to skip ahead 2 and a half minutes or so.)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Fundamentalist Scientist

Tim Berra at writes:
"Religious fundamentalists want us to believe that the evolution/creation debate is ostensibly about science for they have a great deal at stake... In short, they reject all scientific knowledge that does not fit their view of the world."

Interesting thoughts. In Berra's eyes I am a "fundamentalist" simply for believing in a Creator. (Sadly, many Bible-believe Christians would join Berra in labeling me "fundy" simply for believing in a "young earth".) In Barrera's eyes I must believe the way I do, since I have so much at stake in the matter.

But if I am wrong, and the Bible does not say what it clearly seems to say, and the universe really is billions of years old, then I do not have to be an atheist. I can still be an "old earth" creationist. I could even join the ranks of Bruce Ware and become a theistic evolutionist (God did evolution). There is ultimately not much at stake for me and my worldview, and eternal outcome, though it certainly would surprise me if I get to heaven and find out that I was wrong.

However, the fundamentalist scientist cannot change his opinion on the age of the earth, or on creation because then they would have to admit that macro-evolution is wrong. Time and time again I have found that secular scientists, "reject all scientific knowledge that does not fit their view of the world." They have much more to lose than me: respect in their field, lots of money, and almost definitely their entire careers as scientists. Now you see the motivation that inundates our culture and media with evolutionary "science".

And that is why the fundamentalist scientist, "wants us to believe that the evolution/creation debate is ostensibly about science for they have a great deal at stake." As Berra gives away, this debate is not chiefly about science, it is about worldview. Everyone has the same scientific data, and there are experts on both sides of the debate. However, some are so blinded by secular, no-creation-possible reasoning that they can no longer see past their evolutionary glasses or allow themselves even to do so.

A caution to Christians: Do not let yourself be taken by popular "science", and the millions of years that go with it, as if there is no driving agenda behind it. I encourage you to get past those set of glasses and study the issue for yourself.
Jesus Storybook Bible
These videos, as well as this book, are just excellent. I am using this book to teach English to my third grade students at KIU. Noah and Taka love the book, audio and video also. I've even used this on occasion to teach English to adults on Sundays.

A New Way To See from Jonathan Michael on Vimeo.

(HT: Z)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Iowa Boy Forfeits Wrestling Match to a Girl

Interesting story here from my old high school in Iowa. It seems to be making national headlines.

Zach Nielsen writes: It seems quite ridiculous to me that our politically correct, gender neutralizing culture, we have forced this kid to be in a quite awkward, no win situation. Crazy.

John Piper has a great take on this also.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

We Can't Know that we Know Anything apart from God

Watch how Dr. Jason Lisle fleshes this out here.
(The first 4 1/2 min. gives you the basic idea.)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Are we better than they?

In our pride and insecurity we sometimes like to think so.

God gives us the low down,
"Not at all...
all under sin..
None is righteous
no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside;
together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.
There is no fear of God before their eyes.
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God..."

So what's the good news?

"And are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ." (Romans 3:9-18,23,24)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Like Winter in Iowa
Except for the flowers that is.
7 Keys to Practical Love
National collegiate director for the Navigators, and long-time friend, Jim Luebe writes:
Here are seven simple (but not easy) biblical steps that can help you foster love and unity in any relationship.
  1. Be humble. (1 Peter 5:5,6)
  2. Believe the best in people. (Philippians 4:8)
  3. Keep short accounts and take pains to have a clear conscience with both God and people. (Acts 24:16)
  4. Don’t let a root of bitterness grow in your heart. (Ephesians 4:31)
  5. Overlook offenses when possible. (Proverbs 19:11)
  6. Make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. (Romans 14:19)
  7. Be controlled by the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18)
These have certainly helped me in my marriage. I have seen the fruit of Jesus' love and wisdom in Jim as well.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Quote of the Day
"...we can draw a straight line from the emergence of evolutionary theory to the resurgence of atheism in our times. Never underestimate the power of a bad idea." - Al Mohler

Read his whole article here.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Why All Scripture is Essential

Sometimes we like to pick our favorite stories in the Bible. Sometimes we hear people say, "I like the God of the New Testament, but not the one in the Old." Other times we hear, "I don't know what to make of the stories in Genesis, but I guess that's not so important anyway."

In response Jesus says, "If you believed in Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?"

John Frame comments, "Those writings, Jesus says, are about him, about Jesus. In verse 47, Jesus in effect makes believing Moses's writings a prerequisite for believing in Jesus himself... So the words of Moses have a high importance over a thousand years after they were written."

God's personal word can never become anything less than that. It cannot fail or lose its authority or importance. It is the Word of God, not simply the "words" of God.
Surer than an Audible Voice from Heaven

Some have said to me, "If there really was a God he would speak from heaven and let us know he is really there."

Of course, God has spoken from heaven already to let us know. The fact that he does not speak to all in the same way reveals to us the separation that our sin has caused. If God chooses to speak it is nothing more than grace upon grace. (Rom.3:23-24)

But God does speak to us all, even today. Peter, who heard the voice of God audibly from heaven, realized that Scripture was more sure than all the miracles and lightening bolts and voices from the clouds.

2 Peter 1:
16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, [1] with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Mohler: The New Shape of the Debate

Discussing the creation vs. evolution debate, Al Mohler writes:

"We now face the undeniable truth that the most basic and fundamental questions of biblical authority and gospel integrity are at stake. Are you ready for this debate?"

"...The problem with this argument is obvious: Darwinism and Genesis do clearly overlap. The Bible does not merely speak of the who and the why. It also makes explicit claims concerning the how. Likewise, even a cursory review of the evolutionary literature indicates that evolutionary scientists routinely make assertions concerning the who and why questions. It is just not intellectually honest to argue that evolutionary theory deals only with the mechanisms of the existence of the Cosmos and that the Bible deals only with the meaning of creation."

Read more here.
What Kind of Religion Is This?!

“In a sermon Dick Lucas once preached, he recounted an imaginary conversation between an early Christian and her neighbor in Rome.

“Ah,” the neighbor says. “I hear you are religious! Great! Religion is a good thing. Where is your temple or holy place?”

“We don’t have a temple,” replies the Christian. “Jesus is our temple.”

“No temple? But where do your priests work and do their ritual?”

“We don’t have priests to mediate the presence of God,” replies the Christian. “Jesus is our priest.”

“No priests? But where do you offer your sacrifices to acquire the favor of your God?”

“We don’t need a sacrifice,” replies the Christian. “Jesus is our sacrifice.”

“What kind of religion is this?” sputters the pagan neighbor.

And the answer is, it’s no kind of religion at all.”
—Tim Keller, King’s Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus, p. 48.

(HT: JT)

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Dinosaurs & Dragon Legends
Interesting look at the behemoth and liviathan of the Bible.