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

Sunday, May 31, 2009 

We Don't Mind Being Foreign - We Just Don't Want Our Message to Be

There are doubtless many different languages in the world, and none is without meaning, but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me. - 1 Cor 14:10-11 -

Please continue to pray for us to be able to learn Japanese so that the Gospel of Christ would have life-changing meaning to the Japanese.

Saturday, May 23, 2009 

This book has become one of the most important ones I own. I don't have the time to sit & give an adequate review of it, so I'll post some others thoughts & tell you that I cannot recommend this too highly! Even if you don't agree with every jot & tittle, I guarantee you it'll get you praying more frequently & more faithfully.

Amazon reviewer:

This book is different. This book just might change things. Within the first few chapters, actually within the first few pages, I could tell that Paul Miller was describing something that I had never experienced before.

First, he honestly and precisely identifies the barriers to prayer - a short attention span, guilt, inconsistency, and weak attempts to follow a formula that would somehow make my prayers acceptable to God. Yet his winsome way of presenting these problems are not a condemnation of our failures, but are actually an encouragement not to give up.

Somewhere in the middle of the book, it begins to dawn on you that a relationship with God that is guided by prayer just might be attainable. Then Paul introduces a simple way to keep track of the many prayer stories that develop as we carry on an intimate conversation with a God who wants us to know and love him...

Paul David Tripp:

This is as fine a book on prayer that you will ever read, but it is so much more. It is the story of our struggle to actually live like we believe that our Heavenly father really does love us. If we did, nothing could keep us from being committed to the day by day hard work of prayer. Paul exegetes our struggle in a way that is convicting, insight giving and encouraging. This is a book on prayer that actually makes you want to pray!"

Wonder of the Gospel Blogger has compiled some nuggets from the first few chapters:

- "Prayer is not the central theme of this book. Getting to know a Person... is the center."
For Jesus "prayer is about relationship. When he prays, he is not performing a duty; he is getting close to his Father."

- "Personal prayer is one of the last great bastions of legalism."

- "How do we structure our adult conversations? We don't... Why would prayer be any different? After all, God is a person."

- "We received Jesus because we were weak, and that's how we follow him... We forget that helplessness is how the Christian life works."

- "Prayer is bringing our helplessness to Jesus."

- "Strong Christians do pray more, but they pray more because they realize how weak they really are."

- "Weakness is the channel that allows us to access grace."

- "You don't need self-discipline to pray continuously; you just need to be poor in spirit."

Sunday, May 17, 2009 

Where I Was on Saturday Night - That's Me Right Smack Dab in the Middle Above the Flags

Friday, May 15, 2009 

Blurring the Boundaries

The amount of girly men is one of the first things I noticed in Japan...insightful article into the culture of the Japanese male. My friend made a good observation that I had not considered - the fathers of this generation & even still of the current boys were not around. They work literally all day & many 6 days a week with the one day off taken just to crash & recharge. Pray that biblical manhood may attract many of these men seeking to find satisfaction in fashion, self, etc...

Thursday, May 14, 2009 

Preaching, Not Conversation

There is more & more of a push from well meaning folks today, even trying to cite Biblically from Acts, that preaching as we know it today was not part of the early church. We want to minimize preaching today in exchange for dialogue & "priesthood of the believer" becomes "you can't tell me objectively what this passage means - I figure out what it means to me, for me."

Greg Gilbert's comment on a misuse of a Greek word in Acts from the book, Houses that Changed the World, is very timely & helpful:

There are other Scriptural missteps, too. One of the worst—and least obvious—is on pages 84-85, where Simson says New Testament teaching was more a conversation than modern-day “preaching.” He writes:

The Greek word often translated “preaching” in the New Testament is dialogizomai, which means to have a dialogue between people. When Paul ‘preached for a long time’ in Ephesus (Acts 20:7) . . . Paul did not preach at all in the sense of having an endless monologue; he was having a dialogue, a time of questions and answers.

There are several problems here. First of all, Acts 20:7 does not use dialogizomai at all; it uses dialegomai, which can have the meaning, “to exhort” or “to address.” (See especially Hebrews 12:5). Even if we look at Simson’s word dialogizomai, however, we find it is used only 16 times in the New Testament, and not one of those refers to anything close to the preaching of the gospel. Most have to do, in fact, with the Pharisees “dialogizomai-ing” in their hearts against Jesus. The most common verb for “proclaim, exhort” is kerysso, a word Simson does not mention but which is used 61 times in the New Testament. The preaching of the gospel then is not a conversation; it is the proclamation of God’s grace in redemption, an exhortation to sinful people to repent and believe.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009 

Change of Sentiments - Progress Reported on May 13, 1899 From Japan

May 13, 1899, from Louisville, Ky, the Japan missionaries report to the board:

The year just passed has witnessed some remarkable changes in Japan, but none of these changes has more importance for the future than the gradual change of front with reference to Christianity. A year ago the newspapers (native) almost without a single exception, welcomed with peculiar pleasure any opportunity to regale their readers with articles abusive of missionaries, Christians, and Christian teaching. Within the last few months, however, some few of the leading statesmen have voiced sentiments which can be construed in no other way than favorable to Christianity, while two of the leading dailies, published at Tokyo, have time and again urged, as the only hope of the reformation of society, the adoption of Christian ethics. The reading and thinking Japanese public has been more or less influenced by the large number of Christian periodicals and tracts, as well as the broadcast proclamation of the Gospel. The missionaries and other Christian workers are accorded a respectful, though quite frequently cold, hearing, and there is a manifest desire to know something about the truths which Christianity teaches.


The Buddhist forces are keenly alive to the situation. Their publications teem with appeals to the people to prove themselves loyal to the faith of their fathers, while they cease not, day and night, to warn the public against the encroaching influence of Christianity.

The renervation of temples, the organization of schools for the better training and equipping of Buddhist priests, together with lecture courses by noted Buddhists, mass-meetings in the interest of Buddhism at the large cities, and extended tours of inspection by influential priests are some of the evidences that Buddhism proposes to contest stubbornly the ground.


Never before has there been manifested so ardent a desire for the salvation of the lost as now. All expedients, such as schools and colleges, are being relegated to their proper places, and more reliance is placed in the proclamation of the Gospel. Prayers that plead for the manifestation of the Spirit's power, hand to hand work with those who will hear, a larger view as to the provision of the Gospel, together with the gradual obliteration of caste distinctions, are some of the evidences that Christ is being enthroned in the hearts of His followers.

The fight is on. It's to be a hand to hand conflict, in which no quarter is or can be given or taken. The battle will be long and severe. But the victory is assured. "I have overcome the world."

Today, the fight is still on, it is still a long & severe battle, but victory is still assured...HE HAS OVERCOME THE WORLD.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009 

On This Day in 1893 - God Grant Men for Japan!

Japanese SBC missionaries report reasons for hope by telegrah to the Convention in Nashville, Tn:

One year's labor in virgin soil, overgrown by briers, thorns, and thistles of such a rank growth as Buddhism, Shintoism, Fetishism, Infidelity, Skepticism, and such like, will hardly be crowned with a harvest so luxuriantly abundant as to overrun the barns and storehouses and awaken enthusiasm for the new country. While our report may not arouse unbounded interest, I think we have cause for great rejoicing, abundant thanksgiving, and much encouragement to "expect great things from God," and to "attempt great things for God."

The most encouraging feature is the willingness of the people to hear. Anybody and everybody will ask a question, by which means we can secure an opportunity to tell them of Christ. Not only do the people gladly hear, but many hearing believe. God gave us a great harvest last year -- twenty-six baptisms. And when we remember that last year was our first year in Kiushiu, I am persuaded that we may look for a greater blessing this year.

Our need is men to prosecute the work. We are in close touch with nine million people, all of whom must have the gospel or perish. Twenty years hence one-half of these will be in eternity. Will our young men and women sit still and see these millions go out into eternal night while they might be saved by an outstretched hand? God grant men for Japan! The need is men -- men with the gospel in their hearts, manifest in their lives, and preached incessantly by word of mouth. We cannot ask for less than eight men -- men with their wives this fall. MEN, MEN, MEN, is our cry for the heathen. "Men" is the heathen's cry for themselves. Does not Christ say, Go!

Monday, May 11, 2009 

On This Day in 1855, 1876 - Give This Great Empire the Gospel of Christ!

On May 11, 1855 at a meeting in the great city of Montgomery, Alabama, Southern Baptists decided that though they recognized a need to go to Japan, it was not possible to send laborers into the field...yet:

The Board have not been indifferent to the question of establishing new missions, in accordance with the suggestions and instructions of the convention. But they have hitherto deemed it unadvisable to attempt the occupancy of any untried positions expecting at Sierra Leone, the British colony on the western coast of Africa. To this the Board allude under the head of African Missions.

Enquiries respecting South and Central America have been made, but the Board have not been satisfied of the expediency of entering these fields. The same is true of Japan. God will yet prepare the way for the establishment of effective missions in those portions of the globe, and it will be ours to stand prepared to obey the summons, which he may sound in our ears.

Then in 1876 on the same day, from Richmond Va:

The prospect everywhere is good for a steady increase of the work abroad; but the apparent want of foreign missionary spirit at home causes us the deepest solicitude for the future of our life work. Shall we take no part in giving Japan, and the interior cities of this great empire, the gospel of Christ? The Lord revive his work in the hearts of his people!"

Sunday, May 10, 2009 

On This Day in 1889

From Memphis, Tn the Board reported:

In 1859 the Board resolved to open a mission in this country. Several missionaries were appointed. Two of them, Mr. and Mrs. Rohrer, started for the field in the ill-fated "Forest City," which was never heard from after leaving this country. The enterprise has never been abandoned. Dr. Yates urged the Board to make a start there as one of the most promising lands for missionary labor.

Last year the Convention adopted the following commendation presented by the Committee on the "Enlargement of the Work of the Foreign Mission Board":

"The Committee especially commend to the Convention the establishment of a mission in the long-neglected but progressive empire of Japan. The commercial relations of this people with the United States are of such a nature as greatly to favor the success of the enterprise. The vessels bearing our missionaries to China must pass by the suffering millions of Japan, which is so situated geographically as to afford a most valuable strategic territory for the capture of the boundless regions beyond. The establishment of this mission was a favorite project with Dr. Yates. Shall our brethren of the North and English Baptists be permitted to toil there with no help from their Southern brethren?

Saturday, May 09, 2009 

On This Day in 1890

From Fort Worth, Tx, I had to laugh at the description of the Japanese language as young missionaries headed here in 1890:

The youngest of our missions is in Japan. On the 5th of November, 1889, Brothers Brunson and McCollum arrived, and are presently and temporarily located in the city of Kobe. It is understood, as the result of communications with the American Baptist Missionary Union and missionaries on the field, that our missionaries shall work to the south and west of Kobe. After acquiring more acquaintance with the language and people they will be better prepared, with counsel from the Board, to make a settlement judicious and satisfactory to all concerned.

Our young missionaries are full of hope, and the field is full of promise. This mission has a sacred interest in the mind of the Board, being associated with an attempt in 1860 to enter the field by our missionaries. Mr. and Mrs. Rohrer, who were lost on their way in the ill-fated "Edwin Forest." Our present missionaries have given their first impressions through the denominational press, but their main business is the mastery of the most difficult tongue of the East, to which they are applying themselves with well-trained minds and manly vigor and determination. If their life and health are preserved, the next Convention will no doubt have from them some cheering report.

Friday, May 08, 2009 

This Day in 1863

May 8, 1863, the Foreign Baptist Mission Board (now the IMB) reported at the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting about the first appointed missionaries to Japan, the Rohrers, lost their lives tragically before ever arriving:

It will be remembered that at the last meeting of the Convention, it was stated
that Brother J. Q. L. Rohrer and his wife had sailed for their field in Japan, via Hong Kong and Shanghai, and that brethren C. H. Toy and J. L. Johnson, were only waiting an opportunity to depart. The continuation of the war has indefinitely postponed the embarkation of the last named brethren.

The Board are called are called upon to mourn the loss of Brother Rohrer and his wife who were on board the "Edwin Forest," with brother and sister Bond, to whom allusion has already been made. Our brother and sister Rohrer, were choice spirits. With superior natural and acquired endowments, they seemed specially fitted as pioneers in the difficult work of bearing the tidings of salvation to the Japanese. The vessel in which they took passage, contained besides ours, four Pedo-Baptist missionaries, and the family of the Captain. Why was this preciously freighted bark permitted never again to be heard of, and the manner of her destruction to remain sealed up, until the last great day? God knows why, and with profound humiliation, we have only to say, "even so father, for so it seemed good in thy sight."

Thursday, May 07, 2009 

First SBC Missionaries Appointed to Japan

On April 2, 1860, the first SBC missionaries were appointed to go to Japan:

It is gratifying to be able to state, that during the year five missionaries have received appointments. Brother Crawford H. Toy, of Virginia, in the early part of the year, was accepted, and, in accordance with his wish designated to the new mission about to be commenced in Japan. Shortly after, an appointment to the same field was conferred on John L. Johnson, of Virginia. The former of these is spending a brief session at the Greenville Theological Seminary, and the latter is expecting to close his studies at the University of Virginia during the present year. Brother J. G. Schilling has been appointed to the Canton mission, and brethren J. J. Fitzgerald and George W. Parker to the Liberia mission. Several other brethren are now in correspondence with the Board on the question of laboring in the foreign field, two of whom will soon visit Richmond, for special conference on the subject.

Three missionaries are now under appointment for Japan. This band of brethren, consisting of brethren J. Q. A. Rohrer, Crawford. H. Toy, and J. L. Johnson will, we hope, ere the year closes, be upon their destined field. The former of these will probably sail in a few weeks -- the two latter sometime in the fall. Among this interesting people, we propose to commence an assault upon the powers of darkness. It will be a difficult enterprise. Not with carnal weapons, but such as are mighty through God, we propose to pull down these stray strongholds and trusting in Him, we send these young men as our standard bearers in this conflict. The Board are gratified to be able to say, that while they may not immediately succeed in the work they thus attempt, an increasing sense of its importance and magnitude presses upon their minds. The testimony of Brother Cabaniss, who is given much thought on the subject, is altogether favorable to an earnest prosecution of this attempt to dispense the gospel to the Japanese.

If you visit the blog tomorrow you will see that there is an immediate tragic ending to this good news. However, I also grieve in my spirit that 149 years later, Japan is less than 1% Christian. Is the Gospel so weak? By no means! God give us the wisdom, the language, & the BOLDNESS to preach & teach your Word with life changing authority as You send Your Spirit over this land. It isn't possible that the Gospel has failed here - makes us to open our mouths - surely you have many, many children here. God equip us then make us obedient!!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 

On This Day in 1892 - What We Need Now is Men to Preach

Our need in Japan today is not too different from the SBC's reporting of the needs of Japan from Atlanta, Ga 117 years ago today:

Let none be deluded with the too common notion that Japan is on the eve of turning to the Lord. She has coveted our Western civilization, and with it has embosomed elements which seem to throw her back upon her oriental religious ideas or forward upon the worse ideas of an occidental infidelity. A discriminating member of our mission writes:

"A revolution is going on in Japan, and as is always the case under such circumstances, the country is in a ferment. All sects are struggling for the mastery. Buddhism, like a sleeping lion, feeling the pain at the attempts of other sects to deprive it of its claw, has awakened and begun to roar, rallying its followers and seeking to make proselytes as never before. Shintoism and other forms of idolatry are rampant. Unitarianism and Universalism are aggressive. Skepticism and infidelity are rife among the upper and educated classes. Especially are they affected by men of culture who have studied abroad and think it a proof of their superior minds and advantages to declare themselves ardent followers of Huxley and Spencer."

This means for our missionaries severe work of faith, and should mean for our people constant prayer and ample means to send out coworkers for our little struggling mission.

"This is the age of transformation with Japan, and an age of transformation is the time to give the people the gospel. They are willing to hear in most places. What we need now is men to preach. Surely of the one hundred to be sent out this year we are to have eight or ten missionaries. Surely it is not the intention of the Board to allow another year to pass without more men for Japan. The other fields have all been reinforced.

Is it not Japan's time next? I beg now because I believe that now is the time to put men here; because I believe that if it was right for Brunson and me to come, it is right for others to come; because I believe that to ignore the work now is to allow our opportunity to pass. I am not insensible to the demands of the older fields, nor am I unmindful that Japan is a very small country. But Japan is moving tenfold more rapidly than China, even though China is now in rebellion. The revolution of Japan is twenty years old, and the indications are that reconstruction will soon become complete. The change from monarchic to constitutional government seems to me to be the last step in this reconstruction.

If Christianity is worth anything; if Christianity takes hold of men at one time more easily than another, it will certainly take hold of them when they are seeking for the truth and when their nature is crying out for freedom. May we not have help this fall? Two years must elapse before missionaries can do much work. Hence the sooner they come the better. Our plan of work for the year must depend on the question of reinforcement."

It is chilling to me how little has changed in over a century.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009 

Nothing Draws Like the Lifted-Up Christ

J.W. McCollom, also a missionary from Alabama, reported to the Convention on May 6, 1898:

The People, while showing no marked interest in the Gospel (rather manifesting a chilling indifference), are not entirely unwilling to be told of Christ the world-Saviour. Material prosperity has so absorbed their energies of heart, mind and body that, to all appearances, they were unwilling even to think that this life would ever end.

One peculiar outcome of this indifference has been a greater willingness to hear just the Gospel and nothing but the Gospel. They have no time to listen to fine-spun theories; but, though in great haste, the pure Gospel has for them an attraction which compels attention. Thus the truth of Christ's words, "and I if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto myself," has been strikingly verified. Nothing draws like the lifted-up Christ.

Statistics -- Our statistics will show that the year has not been entirely fruitless, though the progress has not been so marked as we had hoped it would be. However, when we remember that eight years ago very few of the sixty-one members repotted knew anything of the Saviour, we are made to rejoice anew in the fact that the Gospel is the power of God -- to every one who believeth.

To me it is so amazing that 111 years ago the main stumbling block to the Japanese accepting Christ was materialism because I think that is the top reason today. Besides that, it is not surprising to me that 111 years ago, 2,000 years ago, and today, nothing draws like the lifted-up Christ.

Monday, May 04, 2009 

"Come Over & Help Us - Now Is Emphatically Our Time"

A mission report from 1890 from SBC missionaries in Japan - if this was true then, it rings more loudly, more true now...won't you come over & help us because now is emphatically our time:

Brother Brunson has written an able paper on the present attitude of the Japanese to the Gospel, and he thinks it wise for us to recognize their desire to do much of their own work for the Christian evangelization of their people. The true theory of missions is really that the foreigner is to introduce "the Gospel" among the nations, and then allow the work to be completed by the natives themselves. Thus has it been in all the evangelized nations of the world. Our missionaries cry for coworkers, as do all our missions, and coworkers should be sent to them.


A conference of the missionaries of the American Baptist Missionary Union was held in Yokohama in June last. This conference asked the churches of the North for twenty-three new missionaries, and in presenting their request emphasized it by some facts. As these facts appeal equally to us here in the South, we quote them:

1. Japan has a population of 40,000,000 people -- 30,000 Protestant Christians, 1,000 of whom are Baptists.

2. Though missionaries of evangelical bodies number 200, yet a great, if not the greater, part of these are devoted to school and literary work, leaving but a small force to do direct missionary work among the people.

3. There are, including brethren on furlough, 13 men from the American Baptist Missionary Union, 2 from the Southern Board, and 1 from the English Baptists -- 16 Baptists all told -- one missionary to two and a half millions of souls.

4. There are 38 prefectures, with a population aggregating 34,000,000 people, in which we have no missionary located; besides the great cities of Kioto Fu, 870,000, and Osaka Fu, 400,000. Seven prefectures, with a population of 6,000,000, are without a missionary of any denomination. It is probably within the limit to say that 20,000,000 (one-half the population) in this country are out of practical working reach of the present missionary forces, and 35,000,000 out of reach of our present Baptist forces in Japan.

There is yet very much land to be possessed, and our plea to you is: "Come over and help us" to possess it for our God and for the truth as it is in Jesus.

That there has been a crisis in Japan is admitted by all, and this crisis has not passed away in the late revulsion of feeling against foreigners, although we believe it has changed in some of its phases. The situation is more urgent and pressing than ever. There remain as many souls to be reached; the work has been increased in difficulty; and our time for its accomplishment is diminishing. When it is remembered, in connection with the foregoing, that a little time is necessary to fit new men for work, now is emphatically our time.

Sunday, May 03, 2009 

Have You Considered Adoption?

Have you ever had a friend who became your friend before you even knew them well enough to even consider them a friend? I found that when going with my cousin to church as Mindy & I went to visit & pray about going to Southern Seminary in Louisville, Ky. These guys Will & Clay came to talk to us after a Wednesday night service, & we fell in love - it's one of those friendships for life that just sparked immediately.

Of course, come to find out, that's just what happens with these guys - everyone thinks they are their best friends! This is so true that several families up & moved - lay folk, not seminarians only, to go a few states east to plant a church. In fact, even though we felt strongly called to missions, Mindy & I prayed & even visited on a vision trip to see if the Lord would want us to plant our lives to help start this church. The Lord wants us in Japan, but our hearts long to work with, beside, & closely to these families that so richly bless all those they come in contact with.

After my historical series on SBC missions in Japan finishes over the next week and a half, I hope to focus on this church plant & those behind it so that you can know their story & be in prayer for these precious people. But here I want to focus on the latest blog post by the teaching pastor at the new church plant, Will, & his touching post on adoption:

Ethan may be the coolest kid you have ever met. Tarah and I adopted Ethan and his sister in 2006 after much prayer and pleading with God to fill our house with children. God answered that prayer bringing great joy to our home. Some moments have been more trying than others.

Ethan was so bad when we first got home from the Ukraine that he spent almost every minute of the day in the corner. I will never forget one day, early on, he was in the corner and was way past due from being released from that torture. Getting out of the corner required one easy step, just say, "I am sorry." Ethan's stubbornness not to say, "I'm sorry," persisted for some time. I'll never forget hearing the thump of Ethan's body hitting the floor. I rushed into the room only to find Ethan's doggedness had persisted so long that he fell asleep while in the corner!

There are so many great stories that Ethan has brought. Like last night, he was talking about his Poppy's (name for his fraternal grandfather) garden. He said, "Daddy, I can't wait to eat all that stuff in the garden. Watermelons, squash, tomatoes, beef . . .” We broke out laughing. "Ethan beef doesn't grow in a garden it comes from a cow!"

The one story that is forever etched in my mind comes from the first day away from the orphanage. I was laying on a coach in Kiev, Ukraine in a small rented apartment. Tarah had returned home to America to care for baby Jedidiah. I was tired and ready to get back to America. My ability to keep my eyelids at bay was becoming a conscious task every twenty seconds. Then I felt some little arms touching my arms. Ethan without inhibitions crawled up onto the coach, mounted my legs, laid his head on my chest, and said, "Moi Pa-pa!" I knew in that moment God had answered my prayers and a special bond between a father and his son was galvanized.

Have you considered adoption?

* Dr. Russell Moore has just published what is certain to be a helpful book on adoption

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