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

Saturday, July 31, 2010 

Halaven Through Rick's Eyes

One of my good friends serving a local church as discipleship pastor in Beaumont, California, reflects on the day he spent with a boy in the Ukraine on their current mission trip:

When we went out to Halaven, I knew our job was to interact with the kids. To sit next to them while they did the craft, listened to the story, and sang songs. So I sat next to a boy named Misha during the craft. I watched while he drew, and talked to him through an interpreter. When he was done, we thumb wrestled and I tried to think of ways to interact with a kid I need a translator to talk to.

At one point, I started to talk to another boy across the table and Misha took my hand and with his other hand started rubbing my arm. I don’t think he had ever felt a hairy arm before. Could it be that he had never had a man sit next to him and spend time with him? He just rubbed and rubbed my arm. When we left, my arm felt weird from having the hair rubbed the wrong way and my heart ached for this little boy. I am so thankful that the church in Chernigov will continue to go back week after week and share the gospel with Misha and the others.

Rick Brady….

“For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:13-14

Wednesday, July 28, 2010 

Iowa Man Feels Called to Saudi Arabia

Yes, this is a joke:

DES MOINES — Kevin Watson, a lifelong Iowan, hopes to make a big difference for Christ in Saudi Arabia. He decided to go there while watching a video about Islam in his adult Sunday school class last week.
"I felt such a burden for those Islamics," he says. His strong emotional response confirmed God's call on his life, he says. He is using savings from his grocery store job to buy a plane ticket. He also invested $120 in a Berlitz course to learn some phrases in "Saudi Arabian," he says.
Once Watson arrives in Saudi Arabia he plans to let God open doors for him. He feels a "strong spiritual tie to the Saudi royal family" and believes he will have a "divine appointment" with them once he arrives in country. He plans to tell them that "oil has been a big part of my life, too" because Watson worked at a QuikTrip to put himself through community college.
"That will open their hearts to hear the gospel and travel down that Romans road," he says.
Watson also plans to start a men's accountability group and do some street witnessing in Riyadh.
"It'll be fun," he says. "I can't wait to see what God does with me there." •

- Lark News

Monday, July 26, 2010 

Keeping Whitey Down

As a poor, white, Christian from conservative Alabama, I found this interesting:

Last year, two Princeton sociologists, Thomas Espenshade and Alexandria Walton Radford, published a book-length study of admissions and affirmative action at eight highly selective colleges and universities. Unsurprisingly, they found that the admissions process seemed to favor black and Hispanic applicants, while whites and Asians needed higher grades and SAT scores to get in. But what was striking, as Russell K. Nieli pointed out last week on the conservative Web site Minding the Campus, was which whites were most disadvantaged by the process: the downscale, the rural and the working-class.

This was particularly pronounced among the private colleges in the study. For minority applicants, the lower a family’s socioeconomic position, the more likely the student was to be admitted. For whites, though, it was the reverse. An upper-middle-class white applicant was three times more likely to be admitted than a lower-class white with similar qualifications.

...This provides statistical confirmation for what alumni of highly selective universities already know. The most underrepresented groups on elite campuses often aren’t racial minorities; they’re working-class whites (and white Christians in particular) from conservative states and regions.

- read entire New York Times article here

Sunday, July 25, 2010 

Orphan Statistics & Prayer Requests

Every day 5,760 more children become orphans. Every 15 seconds, another child in Africa becomes an AIDS orphan. Approximately 250,000 children are adopted annually, but, each year 14,505,000 children grow up as orphans and age out of the system by age sixteen. Each day 38,493 orphans age out with no family to belong to and no place to call home. In Russia and the Ukraine, studies have shown that 10%-15% of these children commit suicide before they reach age eighteen. These studies also show that 60% of the girls become prostitutes and 70% of the boys become hardened criminals (2008). Keep these children in your prayers. Ask for the Lord’s provision in their lives, and ask how He wants you to be a part of their provision.

- Rachel C. Adams of Lifeline Children's Services

Saturday, July 24, 2010 

The Unintended Consequences of Facebook

Facebook is about to celebrate its 500-millionth user, but the social media application has had wide consequences, even for those who have never signed on.

- read article here -

Friday, July 23, 2010 

Japan Rice Paddy Art 2010

This year’s selection of rice paddy art has begun to crop up in fields across Japan.

Rice  paddy crop art in Japan, 2010 --
Rice paddy art in Inakadate (Aomori prefecture) [photo]

Two historical figures — the legendary warrior-monk Benkei (left) and the warrior Ushiwakamaru, a.k.a. Minamoto no Yoshitsune (right) — have emerged in a pair of fields in the Aomori prefecture town of Inakadate. For nearly 20 years, the town has prided itself as home to Japan’s finest rice crop art, which is created by carefully arranging different colors of rice plants in the field.

Rice  paddy crop art in Japan, 2010 --
Benkei (left) and Ushiwakamaru (right) [photo]

Rice  paddy crop art in Japan, 2010 --
Benkei [photo]

Rice  paddy crop art in Japan, 2010 --
Ushiwakamaru [photo]

Rice  paddy crop art in Japan, 2010 --
Ushiwakamaru in late June [photo]

Rice  paddy crop art in Japan, 2010 --
View of Ushiwakamaru at ground level [photo]

Rice  paddy crop art in Japan, 2010 --
Ushiwakamaru [photo]

Rice  paddy crop art in Japan, 2010 --
Benkei [photo]

Rice  paddy crop art in Japan, 2010 --
View of Benkei at ground level

+ Video of Inakadate rice paddy art (filmed in late June)

* * * * *

Here are a few more works of rice paddy art from other parts of Japan.

Rice  paddy crop art in Japan, 2010 --
Animals in Asahikawa (Hokkaido) [photo]

Rice  paddy crop art in Japan, 2010 --
Animals in Asahikawa (Hokkaido) [photo]

Rice  paddy crop art in Japan, 2010 --
Samurai Keiji Maeda in Yonezawa (Yamagata prefecture) [photo]

Rice  paddy crop art in Japan, 2010 --
View from top of Keiji Maeda’s head [photo]

Rice  paddy crop art in Japan, 2010 --
Princess Okaiko, a local folklore figure, in the town of Shirataka (Yamagata prefecture) [photo]

Rice  paddy crop art in Japan, 2010 --
Rice paddy art at Denpark in Anjo (Aichi prefecture) [via]

Rice  paddy crop art in Japan, 2010 --
Rice paddy art at Sakakibara onsen (Mie prefecture) [photo]

Rice  paddy crop art in Japan, 2010 --
Ducks near Fukushimagata Lagoon Water Park (Niigata prefecture) [via]

Rice  paddy crop art in Japan, 2010 --
Ground level view of ducks near Fukushimagata Lagoon Water Park (Niigata prefecture) [photo]

Rice  paddy crop art in Japan, 2010 --
Ducks near Fukushimagata Lagoon Water Park (Niigata prefecture) [via]

Rice  paddy crop art in Japan, 2010 --
Buddhist sword dancer and Anpanman in the Mizusawa area (Iwate prefecture) [photo]

Rice  paddy crop art in Japan, 2010 --
Anpanman in the Mizusawa area (Iwate prefecture) [photo]

- Pinktentacle.com

Thursday, July 22, 2010 

5 Dangers Facing Over-Churched Kids

1. Familiar Stories Lose Their Power: When kids hear the same Bible stories year-after-year they can become a little boring. Even worse – these stories are often told without imagination or any listener interaction. Most over-churched kids have heard the same 100+ Bible stories since they were in the Toddler Sunday School. They no longer connect with the characters or feel moved by the plot resolution. Once I was told by a seminary professor, “ It is a sin to make the Bible boring.” I’m starting to think he was right.

2. Knowledge Can Promote Pride: Something happens inside of us when we become the expert. Children feel that same sense of superiority when they have more religious knowledge than their peers. Too often over-churched kids build their identity around that achievement, even when it doesn’t involve a growing relationship with Christ.

3. They Have Learned to Pretend Pray: A real struggle for grown-ups is connecting with God through prayer. Too often it becomes routine and dry. Most younger children learn prayer as an act of imitation. Many don’t even realize that something cosmic is happening when we address our words to God. They don’t feel the presence of God or even expect that they should.

4. They Don’t Feel Their Lostness: Many over-churched kids don’t know what life is like without the comforts of faith. Their brain say ‘forgiveness’ before their heart feels ‘I’m sorry.’ Because they know about grace, they have never really struggled much with guilt.

5. The Ugly Side of Church: Kids who hang around Christians know the yucky side of the church. They hear the complaining. They know Jesus didn’t fix daddy’s temper yet. They know that church is not always the safest place in their lives. Beyond all this they notice when adults are being fake or doing religious role play.

- read Tony Kummer's entire post here

& here are 9 Strategies for Reaching Over-Churched Kids

Wednesday, July 21, 2010 

A Picture of Us in Our Sin

A firefighter rushes to aid his colleague who ran into trouble amid thick oil cover as they attempted to fix an underwater pump in Dalian, China on Tuesday. Crude oil started pouring into the Yellow Sea off a busy northeastern port after a pipeline exploded late last week, sparking a massive 15-hour fire. The government says the slick has spread across a 70-square-mile stretch.


Pleasuring Ourselves to Death – How Porn Harms Us

A month ago a standing-room-only crowd attended a briefing on Capitol Hill to listen to several researchers summarize their findings about how pornography harms men, women, children, and culture.

Below is a portion of that briefing, featuring Mary Anne Layden, Ph.D. (Please note: this video contains mature subject matter.)

Layden is a well-known sex addiction researcher and anti-pornography advocate. In 2004 she appeared before a Senate subcommittee for the “Hearing on the Brain Science Behind Pornography Addiction and the Effects of Addiction on Family and Communities” (pdf).

Layden comments here that the term “Hypersexual Disorder” is going to appear in the new diagnostic literature for mental health specialists.

If you want to learn more about the harms of pornography, you can watch more from this briefing on YouTube. Please note, however, the video material from this briefing contains very explicit subject matter and some strong language.

- Covenant Eyes

Tuesday, July 20, 2010 

Titi Monkeys: Man Arrested in Mexico Carrying 18 Monkeys in His Girdle

This is probably my favorite news story of all time:

Titi monkeys, six-inch tall endangered primates native to South America, can bring in up to $1000 apiece on Mexico's black market. Mexican authorities arrested a man in Mexico City's main international airport Tuesday for allegedly attempting to smuggle 18 titi monkeys in socks within a girdle.



The world does not need words. It articulates itself
in sunlight, leaves, and shadows. The stones on the path
are no less real for lying uncatalogued and uncounted.
The fluent leaves speak only the dialect of pure being.
The kiss is still fully itself though no words were spoken.

And one word transforms it into something less or other—
illicit, chaste, perfunctory, conjugal, covert.
Even calling it a kiss betrays the fluster of hands
glancing the skin or gripping a shoulder, the slow
arching of neck or knee, the silent touching of tongues.

Yet the stones remain less real to those who cannot
name them, or read the mute syllables graven in silica.
To see a red stone is less than seeing it as jasper—
metamorphic quartz, cousin to the flint the Kiowa
carved as arrowheads. To name is to know and remember.

The sunlight needs no praise piercing the rainclouds,
painting the rocks and leaves with light, then dissolving
each lucent droplet back into the clouds that engendered it.
The daylight needs no praise, and so we praise it always—
greater than ourselves and all the airy words we summon.

- Dana Gioia

Sunday, July 18, 2010 

Losing the Crusades - A Blessing?

Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times poses an interesting question for Christians to consider:

On my family’s recent trip to Israel, one of the topics we were debating was whether the loss of the Crusades was ultimately a good thing for Christianity, and the loss of the Second Temple ultimately a good thing for Judaism.

I’m no scholar of religion, so I simply throw the idea out there for you to weigh in on. The argument is that losing the Crusades freed Christianity from a focus on a particular site and made it more global and universal in a way that made it more likely to appeal to Asians, Africans and Latin Americans. In other words, losing the Crusades helped the church grow in the long run.

In the case of Judaism, the argument is that as long as the Second Temple was around, religious worship focused on sacrifice and traditional practices, and that losing the temple led to a greater focus on spirituality and ethics and all the things we now associate with religion. I raised this issue with a Reform rabbi, very delicately, assuming that this was heresy. To my surprise he said that it was accepted in many quarters that the destruction of the Second Temple had ultimately been a good thing for Judaism, and that even Maimonides had said this. Not heresy at all, he said.

This isn’t the kind of issue I normally write about on the blog, but it was a provocative discussion and so I’m happy to pass it on and invite your thoughts.

Saturday, July 17, 2010 

Pod Porn

One of the older fears about pornography that has not been borne out has been the fear that widespread pornography would create a sexually enflamed male populace. But what has happened is that porn has actually dampened sexual interest in real women, serving many men as a cheap substitute. When it comes to real people, and real lives, and real beds, it turns out that restraint and prudence are erotic.

Of course the older arguments in favor of porn tried to assert that since sex was natural and healthy, it follows that this porn interest represented something open and fresh after generations of previous repression. Now that we started letting it all hang out, all our hang ups would disappear and what a lovely time it would be too.

But the reality has started to set in, and pastors and counselors are starting to notice. The presenting symptom for husbands with a secret porn problem is often a radically decreased libido for real time sex. If a husband is routinely going without for stretches of time that would render a faithful and normal husband cross-eyed, then porn may well be at the root of it. The "porn is sex and sex is natural" meme has run its course. There is nothing natural about this. Porn provides the kind of sex life that someone living in a Matrix pod could enjoy.

- Douglas Wilson

Friday, July 16, 2010 

Congo's Forgotten War. Come Quickly Lord Jesus.

Thursday, July 15, 2010 

How Do I Lovingly Confront Someone Who Claims to be Converted But Who Live Like a Non-Christian?

  1. Pray for yourself and the other person. Pray that you would be faithful merely to speak truth, relying on God’s Spirit to do the work of true persuasion (1 Cor. 3:6-7; 2 Cor. 7:8-10). Pray that he would convict and change the heart.

  2. Speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). Approach the person tenderly, patiently, and kindly. Explain that you are confronting them out of a deep and loving concern for their eternal good.

  3. Point them to the Scriptures. Explain that your goal is not to render a final verdict on their souls. Rather, you are concerned they aren’t living like Scripture says a Christian lives. Refer them to passages like Matthew 7:13-29, Romans 6:12-23, 8:13, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, 2 Corinthians 13:5, and the whole book of 1 John.

  4. Question them gently. Ask things like, “Do you think your life matches the Bible’s picture of a genuine Christian? Are you genuinely fighting sin or secretly cherishing it? Do you believe that being a Christian means repenting of your sin and trusting in Christ?”

  5. Remind them of their profession of faith and baptism. Remind them of the gospel.

  6. Urge them to consider eternity. Remind them that their eternal joy or condemnation is at stake (Ps. 49; Matt. 25:31-46).

- 9Marks

Tuesday, July 13, 2010 

Twouble with Twitter

Priceless. Bravo.

Sunday, July 11, 2010 

Spreading Gospel a Mission of Death: Christian Converts Sent Back to Evangelize in North Korea

Associated Press Son Jung-hun, who defected and now lives in South Korea, shows a picture of his brother Son Jong-nam in Pyongyang, North Korea. Son Jong-nam was reportedly tortured to death in prison after carrying 20 Bibles and 10 tapes of hymns into his home country.

- Read Washington Times Story Here -

Saturday, July 10, 2010 

Should Pastors (or missionaries for that matter) Try to Be Cool?

Many people assume that the best way to reach people is to be like them. So, if pastors want to reach cool people, they should try to be cool. But there are several problems with the idea that pastors should try to be cool:

  1. Being a cool pastor is not the power of God unto salvation—the gospel is. If we think that the success of our evangelistic efforts depends on the image we cultivate, we show that our trust is not finally in the power of God’s Word working by God’s Spirit, but in our own ability to attract people to ourselves.

  2. Being connected to the culture is a double-edged sword. Having tattoos may endear you to bikers and hipsters, but it certainly won’t endear you to most Muslims.

  3. Our desire to be cool may reflect more pride than we’d like to admit. Let’s say you want to be cool. Is your desire to cultivate that image driven by a desire to save the lost or a desire for people to like you?

  4. Much pastoral ministry is profoundly un-cool. Preaching the cross is a stumbling block and foolishness to cool people. Moreover, faithfully pleading with others to repent of their sins and be reconciled to God requires a pastor to be earnest and enthusiastic in a way that is utterly at odds with the ironic detachment that being cool requires.

  5. We must never despise “un-cool” brothers and sisters in Christ. The more we try to be cool ourselves, the more we’ll be tempted to look down on Christians who are not like us.

  6. Being like the culture can make it hard for others to see the gospel. The more we understand the world and its definition of “cool,” the less attractive we should find it. In fact, in a society that is increasingly morally and spiritually bankrupt, it may be our incongruity with the culture that serves to highlight the gospel. Rather than trying to be cool, pastors should lead their churches to cultivate a vivid otherworldliness (to borrow David Wells’s phrase) that points to a gospel that is genuinely different from what the world believes.

(Much of this material has been adapted from Michael McKinley’s article, “Contemplating Cool”)

- 9Marks

Friday, July 09, 2010 

Isn’t Expositional Preaching Too Monological and One-sided? Don’t People Better Learn Through Dialogue?

* Some people resent expositional preaching’s monological mode. One man stands up for many minutes and preaches while everyone else listens. Isn’t this unfair or even oppressive? What about conversation?

* Certainly, there should be plenty of venues in the life of the church for conversation, whether through inductive Bible studies, follow-up sermon studies in small groups, or other contexts.

* But the monological mode of expositional preaching is very important for at least three reasons. It teaches us that:

1. God is God, we are not. God does graciously listen to the pleas of his people (e.g. Gen. 18:23ff), but God also requires his people to draw near him and listen, not speak (see Eccl. 5:1-2). And a faithful preacher preaches not for the congregation to hear his opinions and ideas, but God’s.

2. The words of life and salvation come from God, not the “perspectives” or “opinions” of people (Prov. 4:10; John 6:63, 68; 2 Tim. 3:16-17). Throughout Scripture, God acts through his Word. His Word alone creates and recreates (Gen. 1:3; Ps. 33:6; 2 Cor. 4:5-6). Paul therefore writes that “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17). Peter says that we have been born again “through…the living and abiding word of God” (1 Pet. 1:23).

3. Sinners like us need a direct, gracious address from God. We contribute nothing to our salvation. God does it all. And in preaching, the hearers contribute nothing to the sermon itself—their job is to sit under the Word, to give heed to the Word, and to allow themselves to be transformed by the Word. Expositional preaching is thus an apt picture of God’s sovereign, unilateral work of salvation.

So expositional preaching both represents God’s saving work, and is one of the chief means by which he accomplishes his saving work. Itshould be monological and one-sided, because it is by means of that very one-sidedness that God saves sinners.

- 9Marks

Thursday, July 08, 2010 

Health is a Precious Gift

Health: Fear Grips a Family - nytimes.com/videos from The New York Times on Vimeo.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010 

Silence of God

One of my favorites over the last year or so:

It's enough to drive a man crazy; it'll break a man's faith
It's enough to make him wonder if he's ever been sane
When he's bleating for comfort from Thy staff and Thy rod
And the heaven's only answer is the silence of God

It'll shake a man's timbers when he loses his heart
When he has to remember what broke him apart
This yoke may be easy, but this burden is not
When the crying fields are frozen by the silence of God

And if a man has got to listen to the voices of the mob
Who are reeling in the throes of all the happiness they've got
When they tell you all their troubles have been nailed up to that cross
Then what about the times when even followers get lost?
'Cause we all get lost sometimes...

There's a statue of Jesus on a monastery knoll
In the hills of Kentucky, all quiet and cold
And He's kneeling in the garden, as silent as a Stone
All His friends are sleeping and He's weeping all alone

And the man of all sorrows, he never forgot
What sorrow is carried by the hearts that he bought
So when the questions dissolve into the silence of God
The aching may remain, but the breaking does not
The aching may remain, but the breaking does not
In the holy, lonesome echo of the silence of God

- Andrew Peterson -

Tuesday, July 06, 2010 

Family Unplugged: How Technology Disconnects Us From Deep Relationships

Is technology enhancing or inhibiting our ability to relate to one another? Some scientists believe our wired culture is changing the way we think and behave—and we may be paying too high a price in the relationships that matter most to us.

In some ways I feel more connected to others than I’ve ever felt before. My Facebook account allows me to get regular updates on old friends who live many hours away. My wife can send me a quick IM while I’m at work and while she’s juggling kids at home. My Google Reader lets me know about fresh news stories and blog posts from some of my favorite authors.

But more and more people are noticing how their digital lives are inhibiting their face-to-face relationships. At the beginning of June the New York Times ran the story, “Hooked on Gadgets, and Paying the Mental Price.” It looked at the subject of how technology is rewiring our brains. Many researchers are finding that our plugged-in, multitasking lifestyles are making us less able to focus on the things (and people) right in front of us.

Meet the Campbells

Take the Campbell family for instance. Mr. Campbell regularly sits in his home office before two computer screens buzzing with e-mail, tweets, IMs, chat programs, and the latest computer code he is writing. He falls asleep at night with his iPhone or laptop on his chest. For relaxation, he escapes into video games with his kids. His wife and children playfully tease him about favoring technology over them. “I would love for him to totally unplug, to be totally engaged,” Mrs. Campbell said. She added that he becomes “crotchety until he gets his fix.”

Leisure time is saturated with technology. On the first night of their vacation all four members of the Campbell family just sat staring at their devices. Eight-year-old Lily has an iPod Touch, a portable DVD player, and her own laptop. Sixteen-year-old Connor has his own dual-monitor setup, one monitor playing music, the other alive with updates from Facebook and Reddit. His parents believe these distractions are to blame for the C’s he just received on his report card.

Mr. Campbell says all the technology is a mixed blessing. “If you’re not careful, your marriage can fall apart or your kids can be ready to play and you’ll get distracted.”

Balancing Online and Offline Life

My friend Dan Lohrmann speaks in his recent book about what he calls the “Seven Habits of Virtual Integrity.” Dan is Chief Technology Officer for the state of Michigan and has decades of experience in the field of computer security. He says these “Seven Habits” must become regular practices in our lives so that we can avoid the pitfalls of online life.

Habit 5 is “Balance Online and Offline Life.” In his book Dan demonstrates how unchecked Internet use at home isolates members of the same household from one another, limiting our meaningful interactions with the people we love. He offers practical tips for time management and ways to “unplug.”

  • Set parameters for your Internet surfing tasks. Don’t just get lost in cyberspace. Schedule computer time: this will ensure you don’t use all your spare time surfing.
  • If possible, limit your time online to certain times of day. Use technology that limits the times of day and the amount of time spent online.
  • Close your e-mail and turn off your IM and RSS feeds if you don’t need them to be open.
  • When doing Internet searches, have a goal in mind.
  • Keep a running list of interesting links you uncover and return to them later.
  • If you are easily tempted by things like Internet pornography, choose not to go online at vulnerable times (when you are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired). Find someone to hang out with instead.
  • Schedule quality time with the people you love. Choose activities away from the gadgets and devices.
  • Beware of how vacations and holidays can be eaten up by time online. Make plans to do something with others during these times.

For more tips, pick up a copy of Dan’s book, Virtual Integrity, or watch some of his instructional videos on NetSafetyResources.com.

- Luke Gilkerson

Monday, July 05, 2010 

Learning About Japan: Dads Urged to Swap Desks for Diapers

Hiroyuki Ogino stayed home from his job in telecoms to take care of his son for a month this spring -- one of a tiny but growing number of Japanese men opting for paternity leave despite the risk to their careers.

"It really is as if we are putting a minus against our names, causing problems for our colleagues by not being around to pull our weight," said Ogino, a 38-year-old father of two.

"In spite of it all, I'm glad I did it."

With only 1 percent of the country's eligible male workers taking time out, dads like Ogino are hard to come by in Japan.

Japan's fathers spend less time on child care and housework than their counterparts in any other developed country.

But thanks to a new set of government initiatives that encourage working dads to take time off -- part of a broader effort to boost Japan's rock-bottom birthrate -- the number of fathers who swap their desks for diapers may be about to rise.

Under the revised Child-care and Family-care Leave Law, which takes effect on Wednesday, fathers will be allowed to take more time off to look after their children.

Employers will also be obliged to allow a shorter six-hour working day to staff with children under three years old and in some cases, fathers will be exempt from working overtime.

Masayuki Yamaguchi, a spokesman for Japan's labor ministry, said the initiative, which includes the launch of a self-help website, aims to help dads manage their work-life balance.

According to a Ministry survey, as many as a third of Japan's dads would like to take paternity leave.

But many of Japan's "salarymen," who are notorious for working grueling hours, are afraid that taking time out as a stay-home dad could harm promotion prospects and damage relations with colleagues who have to cover for their absence.

Even at the ministry, leave-taking dads account for a mere 2.3 percent, far below the government's target of 13 percent by 2020, Yamaguchi said

"When I decided to take leave, my parents told me that it was the end of my working life," Masaaki Hashimoto, a product developer at Benesse Corporation who took a month off for paternity leave last April, wrote on the Ministry's new website.

"When I told my boss and my colleagues, it felt like everyone around me was saying 'that's the guy who's going to take leave'," Hashimoto said.

Mitsuhiro Sato, 34, a lawyer who works in Tokyo, decided to take six months of paternity leave to look after his newborn son.

"Compared to working it was a completely different sort of challenge," he recalls. "But there really wasn't a down side."

One group trying to change Japan's dads' workaholic image is "Fathering Japan," a not-for-profit organization aiming to promote understanding of stay-home dads.

"If a male worker announces that he is going to take paternity leave, people around him start to doubt his suitability for the job. There's a chance that they'll start thinking that he's planning to quit," said Tetsuya Ando, who founded the organization five years ago.

"So many male employees are worried about even talking about taking time off. We need a change in attitudes, and a change of environment in the work place."

And there are some signs of change.

A relatively new, and so far small, group of prominent stay-home dads who put their career on hold to look after their children have been making headlines.

Japan's so-called "Iku-men" -- a play on the Japanese word for child-rearing, "iku-ji" -- include the mayor of Tokyo's Bunkyo ward, Hironobu Narisawa, and Takeshi Tsuruno, a high profile celebrity.

"I would wake up at 6 a.m. to make the kids' packed lunches and then see them off to school. I've seriously come to understand the difficulties my wife faced," Tsuruno, 35, told reporters when he announced his plan.

"But I hope that society will change so that men can take leave too."

To gauge these changing attitudes, O-net, one of Japan's most visited online match-making services, asked 900 single women what was most important when looking for prospective husbands.

Iku-men fared better than high wage-earners.

The dating service, which has over 40,000 registered users, found that 88 percent of its respondents gave high scores to men with a positive attitude toward housekeeping and childcare, compared to 75 percent who listed income as important. Only 61 percent cared about their prospective husband's profession.

Back in his Tokyo apartment, Sato looks back on his time as an iku-men. "It was up to me to prepare all of our meals and do all of the cleaning," he recalls, as his wife Yoko took care of their son Kiichi.

"I don't think that paternity leave is for everyone. But if a man wants to take time off to look after his child, it's important for there to be an environment where he can do so."

The revised Child-care and Family-care Leave Law comes into effect on Wednesday.

- washingtonpost.com

Sunday, July 04, 2010 

Biblical Balance about Independence Day

"...we must reject the false accusations of those who want America to confess her blessings as though they were sins, and continue on in her sins as though they were rights. America must repent, and must turn back to Christ, but this is not anything like what the America-haters think."

- Douglas Wilson


Happy Fourth from Japan!

Saturday, July 03, 2010 

What Else But God Himself?

What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? ... this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and unchangeable object; in other words by God himself.

- Blaise Pascal -

Friday, July 02, 2010 

Shameless Propaganda: Bolivian Children

I have no idea who Steven Van Kranenburg is, & I think YouTube suggested this video for me based on other things I watch, but good grief, this had me weeping. We are so blessed. There's nothing radical about not hanging on to 100% of the wealth & resources you've been given. Nobody has to go live in a tent & repent of being American, but aren't there some of us not giving to missions, not joyfully giving to the church, not helping our poorer brothers & sisters in Christ, etc...? We are supposed to give our lives, dying in fact to self, so I have no problem using this emotional bit to try & see if the Holy Spirit will rouse hearts who are clinging to all God's resources & maybe release a bit as a baby step in obedience to the church, to the orphans, to the sick, to the lost, however the Lord leads.

Thursday, July 01, 2010 

Pastors: Cultivate a Spirit of Adoption in Your Church

A pastor can easily set the tone for a church. Very often, what a pastor values, the church body will also value. What a pastor doesn't value, a church may quickly forget. So when it comes to adoption, a pastor can become an open window for a congregation's opportunities, or a closed door to put it far from their minds.

Clearly understanding the strong influence a pastor has on his church body, the Southern Baptist Convention began a grant system to encourage pastors to do more than just suggest adoption as an option.

"It's one thing to talk about [adoption] and preach about it," says Johnny Carr, National Director of Church Partnerships for Bethany Christian Services as well as a former Southern Baptist pastor. "It's another thing to actually do something tangible to help people."

To create even more motivation for pastors who are called to adopt, Bethany has agreed to provide a $1,000 grant for each of the first 25 pastors in the SBC adoption program who choose to adopt with Bethany.

"We know that for many folks, especially with inter-country adoptions, the finances can be one of the biggest hindrances," explains Carr. "We just want to see as many children in good Christian homes as we possibly can get there."

This initiative will not only encourage pastors to adopt, but it will hopefully soften the hearts of entire congregations toward taking in orphans.

"When a pastor does this, it really can change a church. [It] can change the culture of a church, how it views orphan care ministry, and how it views adoption."

Carr has experienced this sort of church change firsthand. His family adopted while he was a Southern Baptist pastor. The life-altering experience even affected the way he preached.

"The whole idea of taking care of an orphan really came alive for me," says Carr. "It became part of my life. As I preached on Sunday, this would come into almost every sermon.'"

Adopting had a great spiritual impact on Carr as well, as he suspects it will for others who choose to adopt. "The more I experience horizontal adoption or physical adoption, the more I understand my vertical adoption," notes Carr.

For any Southern Baptist pastors who wish to change the life of a child for Christ through the Biblical call to adopt, visit www.Bethany.org/sbc and apply for these grants today. For those who don't fit this description, you can still help! The Southern Baptist Convention would love for those who care about adoption to help fund their own grant. To help pastors financially as they seek to save a life, click here.


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