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

Tuesday, March 31, 2009 

Striking Sovereignty

If you count at least a couple of months as qualifying for a minimum of living in a place, then in my adult life I've lived in Birmingham, Auburn, Opelika, Louisville, Chattanooga, New York City (Manhattan), Indonesia, & now Japan. Now let me be honest, going from Birmingham to Auburn back to Birmingham to Chattanooga to Louisville to Opelika did not exactly make me appreciate the scope of God's sovereignty or stretch my capacity to wonder in amazement at the omnipresence of God.

But when I met a different world in New York City, Indonesia, & now Japan & I can appreciate & think about the vast amounts of people, the diversity of culture, the trillions of things simultaneously happening at once & can actually picture places, faces, & things in those areas, I am blown away at the sovereignty of God. It is so easy to flippantly talk about God being sovereign, but I haven't been to or seen most of the world, & in my small travels & living in different places, now that I've tasted the food there, breathed the air there, it awakens in me a mind-blowing, mind-hurting humility that is just the pin prick beginning of even starting to comprehend the vastness of God. Just being able to live in one place & remember clearly a whole different existence going on back home has begun to cultivate a new understanding of how sovereign His sovereignty is.

In all these places He rules over ever weed, every bite of food, every slight gust of wind, every crystal of sand, every strand of dust, every death, everything. And then think of India, every province, village, & town, the same for China, all the island nations of the earth. Think of all that we can't even think of because we do not, cannot know, & so we cannot fully honor & appreciate what kind of God it is that never sleeps, always reigns, & is always good.


Friday, March 27, 2009 

Sealed for God

A loved one wrote me this deeply encouraging email this week that I had to share:

In the past, I thought about Calvinism in terms of coming to salvation. But lately, it has comforted me to think of how it also relates to how we "grow up" in Christ. We did not will ourselves into accepting Christ's salvation. If we believe that we were so depraved that it took the Holy Spirit to awaken us & enable us to become a Christian, then what makes us think that He expects us to "will" ourselves through sanctification? Who we BECOME, as Christians, is also in the hands of God!! Who we BECOME has been in His plans as long as who is to be called. Now, some may take this as a reason to worry "what if God hasn't planned on me being all that sanctified for Him on earth?" The Bible says that He CALLS us (salvation) for His glory. What would give that calling the most glory, but for us to grow nearer & more like Christ where the world could see?

So I am starting to believe that the mere fact that we gained salvation in the first place is proof that God will change & shape us.

Here are some verses about God's KEEPING power on our salvation, & His COMPLETING power.

He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. (I Cor. 1:8)

Now to the one who is able to keep you from falling, and to cause you to stand, rejoicing, without blemish before his glorious presence, to the only God our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority, before all time, and now, and for all eternity. Amen. (Jude 24 & 25)

In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now,being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Phil 1:4-6)

For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Eph 2:10)

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession—to the praise of his glory. (Eph 1:13-14)

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. (Phil 2:12-13)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009 

Glory Incomparable

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.

Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

- Apostle Paul

Friday, March 13, 2009 

My Trek Up the Mountain

Wednesday, March 11, 2009 

Japan Looks Inward

It appears that Japan is increasing looking inward and walling itself off from outside influences — a trend that's showing up in everything from movies to music to learning languages. Even as the supposedly irresistible tide of globalization washes against Japan's shores, insular and parochial attitudes are strengthening.

- read full article at GlobalPost.com

Tuesday, March 10, 2009 

Storm a'Brewin' in Shiz Town

Monday, March 09, 2009 

Japanese Households on Welfare Rise to Record

There were 1.168 million households on welfare in January, an increase of 8,700 from the previous month, Asahi newspaper said on its Web site. New applications for the government’s livelihood assistance program increased 30 percent, mostly from non-regular workers, the paper said.

Aichi and Shizuoka prefectures, where Toyota Motor Corp. and other car markers have factories, recorded the most welfare applications, the Asahi said. Aichi, west of Tokyo, had a 72 percent rise in applications from December, the paper.

Please do pray that God would use this as means in people's lives to turn to Christ. Pray that they would have spiritual eyes to see there is no hope in things, their country, their government, but that Christ is sufficient, worthy, powerful, trustworthy, & King.

Saturday, March 07, 2009 

Jesus Married Miyuko & was Buried in Shingo Village, Japan

You got to read it to believe it! Well, once you read it you hopefully won't believe it - if you do believe it, go look in the mirror - the word gullible is tattooed on your forehead.

The article as a whole gives some good insight into Christianity in Japan in the past & barriers to it now.

Click here to read more info on the legend like Jesus dying in peace at 106 years old & some insights from Jesus' supposed descendent, Sawaguchi. I'm not sure if it's funny, strange, or sad, or a quirky combo of all three.

Friday, March 06, 2009 

Please Pray for us Today (6th) & Tomorrow (7th)


Wednesday, March 04, 2009 

At the Top of a Mountain

Check out my new article over at Outreachjapan.org

Monday, March 02, 2009 

Blessed to Receive

The month of love has come & gone, but we did not feel neglected this February on the other side of the world. It is more blessed to give than receive, but that does not mean that sometimes receiving is a blessing itself, though incomparable to giving.

People just loved on us this month. The 2 items of focus here are by no means exhaustive, but just an example of the way we were encouraged & showered with love.

First, from a childhood friend of Mindy's who lives in Okinawa, a small Japanese island way down south from us, went to the military base there & shipped us 3 boxes of goodies that we cannot get here! Macaroni & cheese, Reese's Pieces & Peanut Butter cups for me, cake mix, taco shells, you name it...food for the homesick soul! What a priceless gift of selflessness & how loving it is to give.

The day before we received that box, a family from our home church sent us a very meaningful package complete with a book on the atoning work of Christ, a CD of Psalm themes set to music, & then a series of booklets for Luke on various topics like Bible Promises of God & Scripture Memory...simply reading some of the promises of God straight from the Word out loud to Luke have served to minister to me. The Word is powerful when proclaimed, even when listened to in song form or spoken out loud by your own voice. Spiritual food for the homeward-longing soul! What a priceless gift of selflessness & how loving it is to give.

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