He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" - Romans 8:32

Friday, January 30, 2009 

OH!

Please be in prayer for Michael Oh as he travels & speaks at the Desiring God Conference for Pastors in Minneapolis, Mn. Dr. Oh is the founder & president of Christ Bible Seminary, here in Nagoya, Japan (2-3 hrs south/west of us). It is the fastest growing seminary in Japan. In a land where the few churches & seminaries are liberal, this is a man & ministry that anyone serious about praying for Japan should be praying for.

In his latest blog post, Dr. Oh writes, "I covet your prayers. I don’t think we can overestimate what the Lord could do for Japan and for His glory in all the world through these short few days. There are already some very exciting possibilities/projects that will be happening in the next few years that we’re discussing related to our partnership with Desiring God ministries. I’ll let you know more about this in the future."

My sister wrote me recently about how her church showed a missions video with God of This City playing in the background. She said she kept waiting for Japan to pop up - it never did. Dr. Oh describes his ministry as "a growing but small ministry in a forgotten mission field." I think that Japan is a forgotten mission field. Praise God for the laborers that are running to the Middle East & China & everywhere else people are obeying the Holy Spirit. But I do think in reality that the picture of a Muslim with her head covered or a starving child in Africa strikes at our heart much more than the image of a pinstripe suit wearing business man with a $300 cell phone, a leather bag, & clean city streets with bright lights in the background does. But now & historically, I'm not sure there's a more needy people spiritually than the Japanese. I'm convinced it is why God directed our path away from Indonesia & to Shizuoka.

I digress...please do be in prayer as thousands will surely hear of Japan & her spiritual need through Dr. Oh's message. He asked in one of his prayer requests that, "this world will be more gloriously and globally filled with the glory of God because of this conference. I’m personally praying that the Lord might raise up 5000 new missionaries for the unreached of the world and another 500 new missionaries for Japan."

It was at this same conference exactly 6 years ago that the Lord called me to missions through hearing the biography of Adoniram Judson - pray in faith especially for more workers for the harvest.


- read more about the history & vision of Christ Bible Institute

Wednesday, January 28, 2009 

Converted to Christ by Shinto Priest

My dad forwarded me this very interesting link today. Well worth the short read if you are praying for Japan.

Monday, January 26, 2009 

Shizuoka City = Showtown, Japan

Came across this dude as we walked in Shizuoka City. He had this girl that was planted in the crowd to bring folks up to form a wall of people so that others would be drawn to watch his gig. This gig that I speak of was made all the more incredible by looping loud Michael Jackson music that got him hyped up. The Japanese girl who was assigned the task of "crowd gatherer" asked us to "please admire his work". She told us that we should clap, & when to clap. Apparently, he is supposed to be the greatest juggler in all Japan (at least that's what she said - that was for you interns!). You can faintly hear in one of the videos Mindy saying, "Sumimasen, nihongo ga wakarimasen," which means, "sorry, I don't speak Japanese." So, she started talking to us in very choppy english & it was all for promotional sake, but we got to practice the Japanese phrases we know so it was helpful for us. We came away thinking, "if this girl is willing to be so bold for a juggler's show & be willing to make a fool of herself in poor english in her own strength, how much more should we be willing & able to be fools for Christ, no matter how bad our language or how little we know someone." Like she did with us, we want to lead people to gather around King Jesus & worship, to praise Him, & to admire His "work."

She knows our names but she did not give hers, nor did we know how to ask at the time. But the Lord does & He knows who we're talking about - pray that she would become a bold witness for Jesus. As we were leaving she told us he was having another show sometime soon. Pray that she come to know Christ, & that she be willing to invite others to His coming banquet.


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Sunday, January 25, 2009 

Boldness Out of Europe - What is a True Disciple?

Saturday, January 24, 2009 

Walking Home...Some Views of the Shiz

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Friday, January 23, 2009 

Did You Know 3.0? Fascinating...

 

So Preach as Though There Were Men Standing in the Back Waiting to Arrest You

"The hallmark of the apostolic method of preaching was boldness. Again and again as we read Luke's account we are arrested by the power and boldness that characterized the way in which the gospel was proclaimed by those early preachers . . . This characteristic boldness is all the more striking when we compare it with the preaching of our day, which is so often lacking in this biblical boldness. We may not like to admit it, but it is nevertheless a fact that many of today's preachers may be loud and bombastic at times, may even become tactless and offensive at times, but for all that, they lack the boldness that is so obviously evident in the apostolic preaching of Acts"

(Wagner, Tongues Aflame, p. 39).

- Posted by Douglas Wilson

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 

To the Unreached...

Never lose heart in the power of the gospel. Do not believe that there exists any man, much less any race of men, for whom the gospel is not fitted.

- Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Tuesday, January 20, 2009 

Obama? What Me Worry?

The day after Obama was elected our next president, I was very curious of how the Christian circles that I believe are the most biblical, evangelical, & Gospel centered would respond to the winning of the presidential bid by someone with a record as liberal as Obama. I was shocked to read almost 95% of the news & internet outlets for these ministries & pastors to respond overwhelmingly that what our responsibility is now is to pray for Barack Obama as commanded by Scripture (1 Timothy 2, etc...). I did not think George Bush was God's gift to this nation as many did, & so I was encouraged & relieved to more clearly understand in my own heart why I follow & respect the men of God - they are consistently biblical & have the mind & heart of Christ.

So we pray for our president, whoever he is, whatever his worldview. And the fact that our president will go out of his way to uphold abortion & other issues is a tragedy, so praying for our leaders doesn't mean we can't disagree & fight against evil policies in an orderly way. But, here's a bit of peace to all who may feel the sky is falling because Obama is the president, or for those who feel that heaven on earth is about to come to fruition because Obama is president. He is merely dust, clay in the hands of the one, true King. Take comfort in the proverb I read this morning..."The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord;
he turns it wherever he will." (Prov 21:1)

 

Being Called to the Red?


And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. - Luke 10:2

Please pray for laborers as the task left is too large for those in the less-reached & unreached areas. God is able, but His Son told us to pray for laborers because I believe He uses us for the means.

Lovingly yours,

The Rainers

Friday, January 16, 2009 

Shizuoka City Links - General Info

This link provides general information about Shizuoka City in English. It also provides a snippet of info on culture & history, the famous port here, information on the world famous green tea grown here, hobbies, & recreational activities here. It'll give a decent overview of where we are & some of the things the people we are trying to reach are known for.

Thursday, January 15, 2009 

First, the Lord

I was starting to study my first bit of language homework this morning. I had woken up early by alarm (not as early as I originally set the alarm for), set out for a shower, got dressed, got a drink to keep my mouth from drying out as I worked on all the new words, made sure Melinda was doing okay with the baby for the next while, & then sat down to my notebook, flash cards, worksheets, & whiteboard.

Oh yea...then literally 3 seconds after sitting down I spotted my Bible. Despite the fact that my entire intention in waking early was to be in the habit of always starting the day off with the Lord, even before language, somehow, I had forgotten. I was about to take on the impossible task of learning Japanese on my own - in my flesh. Stupid is as stupid does.

But I'm grateful the Lord kept Himself first, even when I didn't. I pushed away my Japanese & prayed. Then I opened the Word. In Proverbs 16, it was just another reminder, since the Lord knows I need those regularly:

"The plans of the heart belong to man,but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit. Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established." - Proverbs 16:1-3

It's great to know that the God of our redemption is also the God of our sanctification, & that even when we forget, He is faithful, He will surely do it (1 Thess. 5:24).

Wednesday, January 14, 2009 

Missions. How?

"For as the surest source of destruction to men is to obey themselves, so the only haven of safety is to have no other will, no other wisdom, than to follow the Lord wherever he leads. Let this, then be the first step, to abandon ourselves, and devote the whole energy of our minds to the service of God. By service, I mean not only that which consists in verbal obedience, but that by which the mind, divested of its own carnal feelings, implicitly obeys the call of the Spirit of God."

- John Calvin

Tuesday, January 13, 2009 

Shizuoka City Links - Weather

Want to know what is going on with the weather & whether or not it is raining on us & our fellow Shizuokans, clear, warm, cold, high wind gusts, annual rainfall, annual temperatures, or anything to do with the weather, check out this detailed weather link of Shizuoka City, Japan.

Sunday, January 11, 2009 

SEIJIN-SHIKI (成人式) - Coming of Age Day in Japan

Today is Coming of Age Day in Japan. It is a holiday that celebrates people turning 20 years old. It signifies the boy or girl crossing over into adulthood, officially being recognized as a man or woman. It means more freedom like buying tobacco & alcohol legally, being entrusted with more responsibility, etc...

The girls will dress traditionally in a kimono while the guys will dress in a hakama or suit. The seijin shiki covers all those who will reach this age during the current school year, which isbetween April and the following March. The ceremony is usually held in the morning at local city offices and all young adults who maintain residency in the area are invited to attend. Government officials give speeches, and small presents are handed out to the new adults. Then, after the ceremonies, the new adults will usually go out & party.

Please pray that as the Japanese recognize official adulthood & maturity in the young generation that is now growing up, that this would be the generation that marks Japan turning to Christ. Pray that thousands of those celebrating today would soon be those the angels are rejoicing over as they are redeemed by Christ, & that they would grow in wisdom, godliness, & Holy Spirit maturity.

 

Japan / Oceania 2009 Team with Willowbrook Baptist Volunteers

CLICK ON EITHER PHOTO TO ENLARGE



Here it is zoomed in on us so you can see Luke is quite happy to be in Japan!

 

Japan PM says Christians could Learn from Japanese

Prime Minister Taro Aso said Thursday some of the world's major religions could learn from Japan's work ethic.

The conservative leader, who is known for his controversial remarks, told a parliamentary committee that Japan's belief in hard work contrasted with that of the Judeo-Christian tradition.

"Our values in Japan regard hard work as important," Aso said during a discussion on the global economic crisis.

"To work is good. It's completely different thinking from the Old Testament," Aso said.

"We should share our philosophy with many other nations."

The parliamentary committee discussed the impact on Japan of the global economic crisis, with Aso voicing fears about the recent slump in the dollar.

Aso was apparently referring to the Bible's description of work as God's punishment of Adam for disobeying his commands in the Garden of Eden.

"In the Old Testament, God gave Adam punishment: labour. The Old Testament, Christianity, Islam -- if you add them up, what percent of the world is that? About 70 percent of religions hold a philosophy that work is a punishment."

He then referred to Japan's oldest known book, the Kojiki, which features Japan's creation myths. In the text, an important sun goddess saw many other deities working.

The Japanese are famous for their long working hours, which have turned the island nation into the world's second largest economy.

Thousands of Japanese literally work themselves to death each year, a problem that has become so common it has spawned its own word - "karoshi".

Aso, 68, is notorious for gaffes ranging from making jokes about Alzheimer's disease to once saying that Japanese were better placed to mediate in the Middle East because they do not have blue eyes.

- from Tokyo (AFP)

Saturday, January 10, 2009 

"Yes, Lord."

And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, “Have mercy on us, Son of David.” When he entered the house, the blind men came to him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.” Then he touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.” And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them, “See that no one knows about it.” But they went away and spread his fame through all that district. - Matthew 9:27-31

Yes, Lord...

I believe, help my unbelief that I won't learn Japanese.

I believe, help my unbelief that there are hundreds or thousands or your elect in Japan.

I believe, help my unbelief that you are more satisfying than corporate worship.

I believe, help my unbelief that you can and will use us.

I believe, help my unbelief that you are more sufficient than all family & friends half a world away.

I believe, help my unbelief that I can model godliness to my son...that I can be an example of Christ to my wife.

I believe, help my unbelief that Hell is awaiting all who reject you or do not know you so I may be more urgent in sharing your name & less aware of how others perceive me.

I believe, help my unbelief that in your presence, not America, is fullness of joy, & that at your right hand, not America, are pleasures forevermore.

Monday, January 05, 2009 

On Them a Light has Dawned

On Sunday I was reading in Matthew 4 & was struck by the words of this passage as my desire for Japan. Now, this is hermenutically incorrect, & I know this passage is a prophetic fulfillment in the life & ministry of Christ, but I simply mean the words are what I hope will be true of Japan, not what God intended them to mean in the context of Matthew 4.

Matthew 4:12-16: "Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:

'The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.'"

And I thought, "I so pray & hope that Christ will visit Japan with His Spirit so powerfully that people would say of Japan, 'the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, & for those dwelling in the region & shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.'"

Sunday, January 04, 2009 

Japan to Raise English Fluency

Based on the headline, I don't think I'm going to worry with learning the language...I'll wait for them to learn ours - just to be a good missionary. I'm joking of course, but according to an article from The Straits Times, "The Japanese government has set an ambitious goal of making the Japanese fluent in English, by recommending that all English classes for those aged 16 to 18 are taught mainly in that language from 2013.

The inability of most Japanese to speak English, despite compulsory classes from the age of 13, is well known and a source of embarrassment for Japan." The article goes on to debate if without other changes this will actually lead to greater English speaking ability for the Japanese. But that's not my purpose of posting this. I am hopeful that as more students learn to speak English, they will be more interested to talking to English speakers, & that the Lord will orchestrate many salvations through Japanese wanting to practice English with missionaries or believers from the West living in Japan. I was told just 2 days ago how a Japanese came to Christ when she was in middle school because she wanted to learn to speak English better & knew there was a missionary down the street, & began meeting regularly. Soon she was a believer - I'm praying this will be an open door for much of the same.

I'm also praying I'll learn the language for the millions who won't/don't know English!

Saturday, January 03, 2009 

Bible in 2009 - bibleplan.org

We're a few days into 2009, & it seems the theme right now for any good Evangelical blogging Christian is to post on bible reading plans & what you are using & why. Seeing that I'm a good Evangelical blogging Christian, I have to jump in with the masses & let everyone know what I'm doing and why. I am compelled.

I will be reading the ESV New Testament & Proverbs twice through this year, & read once through the book of Psalms. I can hear your gasps..."you mean, you're not reading through your entire Bible this year?" No folks, not this year. The Old Testament is so...old. KIDDING! I am not giving the New Testament any weight over the Old, but & I wanted this year to shoot for quality over quantity. I wanted to be able to focus on depth instead of breadth. So the last couple years I have read through the whole Bible each year. It's a good plan, a good idea. Yet, it can also become legalistic & a rush to turn the pages & check the list instead of life to soul. Knowing I would be learning a new way of life, language, & culture beginning this year, I thought it wise to focus & be transformed through meditation on the Word, not merely gettin' er done.

You read 2 chapters a day on this plan. It gives you plenty of time to think, meditate, & pray over the Scripture. It also gives you the opportunity to start & finish the day in those chapters if you find the time.

You can find the plan here. Or if you want, you can go here & have the daily readings sent to your email inbox by signing up. Perhaps you're thinking, I like the idea, but I want the Old Testament in one year. You are in luck my friends, the Old Testament in a year as well as a spread, a feast, of other plans is available here. But warning, if you like those plans where it's all chopped up into reading 4 different sections a day (how do you keep up with what you're reading?!?!) you'll be disappointed! Whew...now I feel like I've done my duty as a good Evangelical blogging Christian!

Thursday, January 01, 2009 

January 09 Newsletter - Rainer

From Shizuoka City

Loved Ones,

We are in Shizuoka City! We arrived on the 29th of December around 5:30pm our time, which is 13 hrs ahead of CST, 12 ahead of EST. We were picked up by our team leaders, the Tak & Lana Oue, & we spent the first night in Tokyo. It was surreal to be driving through the city you've only seen in pictures on the internet, & then to suddenly be in it & among it. The next morning we drove to Shizuoka City. David got to drive about a third of the way which was easy on the highway, but more difficult once entering into the city because you drive on the opposite side of the road on the opposite side of the car, sometimes on very narrow one way streets. Melinda has also gotten to practice her driving some now.

We love our home. It is small as most Americans would understand, but the Lord has always provided small places for us to live, so we feel very blessed by our amount of space, the location, & quality of the home. Obviously a home is not what you come to the field for, but it is a blessing to have a place to live provided for you. It is a very high tech home, all the gadgets that work security, heat/ac, toilet, shower/tub, stove, & oven. All of them have just Japanese characters on them & so we were grateful that the Oues & another couple who will be in our city for 1 more year, the Collins, have gone out of there way to teach us what is what & how things work. Speaking of the security buttons, David was shopping with the Oues one evening when the Collins came by our home. In order to get into the building, the visiting party has to buzz your room & you have to let them in via a button on a touch screen in your living room. Unfortunately, I had been told what to do but Melinda was trying to put Luke to sleep when I had that lesson, so without me around, she started just pushing all the random buttons, hit the emergency button, & I came home to a security officer & 6 cops in our home! Needless to say, it was only funny until after it was over! But rest assured, we are safe!

Since we've been here less than a week we don't know much yet, but we really like our city. If you look out of our windows, it looks like you could be in China, Japan, or Indonesia – all Japan is not Tokyo the way all America is certainly not Hollywood. It's hard to explain because it looks like we're surrounded by a million people, but you can here the birds chirp or girls on their bikes laughing from blocks away – it is very quiet. We are in a residential area, but it looks like a small downtown. We're eager to see the heart of downtown sometime soon. We can see Mt. Fuji from our bedroom in all its grandeur very clearly. When we walk in our neighborhood very few people stare at us & no one speaks. Yesterday when we were walking we didn't notice that Luke's toboggan had fallen off & this sweet 4 year old girl ran about 3 blocks to give it to us. Poor thing gave it to us out of breath in a subtle bow and a warp-speed burst of Japanese that we obviously did not know. All I could tell her was "arigato" (thank you) which is one of like 2 words I know now. How badly we want to be able to relate & function in this language.

Speaking of language, we have a meeting with all Japanese personnel in a few days for about 5 days at a retreat center, & shortly after returning from that, we'll meet with our language teachers & helpers & learn about our language study over the next few years.

Sometime in the next few weeks our crate with our belonging should arrive & we'll get more settled in. There is so much we could share but want to keep this brief as possible. We are grateful for you & your prayerful support of us. I hope 2009 is full of Kingdom advancement & the joy of Christ in your lives. Following this email I will send a separate email with pics of what we see when we look out our windows. Also, please feel free to check out our blog which we will update as time allows: http://davidrainer.blogspot.com/

Answers to Prayer:

1) We're here! Luke did as well as he could for an 8 month old on a long, long flight.

2) It looks like our language details are falling into place & that we will have teachers & helpers.

Prayer Requests for January:

1) Please continue to pray for Luke's adjustment. With jet lag & his schedule about to change yet again at our annual meeting, he just can't quite get Mama & Daddy to give him a break & keep things consistent. His sleeping is all messed up & so we're tired too, so please pray for that.

2) Pray that we would keep our focus first & foremost on Christ. This is not about an adventure for our family but about God being glorified through the redemption of lost Japanese who put their hope & faith in the all-sufficient Christ. All is in vain if we work in our flesh.

3) Language learning: Please continue to pray for this, & please persevere in prayer for this as it may be a request every newsletter. For this month please just pray that the teachers we get, the helpers we get, & the babysitter for Luke will all be blessings orchestrated by God & that a supernatural measure of grace will be granted to us for learning Japanese & trusting someone else with Luke who we do not know yet.

4) Please pray for our marriage. Pray that as we learn a new way of life, language, culture, that our relationship to one another would remain a priority so that our lives & love for one another are examples to the hundreds of thousands of Japanese who live among us, & that we would glorify God before Luke & give him a living example of Christ & the church.

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