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

Thursday, July 28, 2011 

Don’t Complicate the "Missionary Call"


I was never called to be a missionary, nor was I drafted. I volunteered. No special call was needed. I chose to go; I wanted to go; I was compelled to go. And where I go is always determined by an open Bible and a stretched-out map of the regions where Christ is still unknown and un-praised!

I chuckle when I hear missionaries and pastors talk about “surrendering to the call” of ministry. I always want to ask, “After you surrendered, were you water-boarded, or just hauled off in handcuffs and leg irons.” Was it really necessary for you to be abducted by a heavenly vision before you would go into the work of the gospel?

The missionary call is not like a prison dog that tracks us down, sniffs us out, and hog-ties us for the nations. That is silly-talk and really bad theology. Nowhere in Scripture is a mysterious (supernatural) call a prerequisite before we can respond to the Great Commission. The opposite is actually true.

Don’t Wait for a Call

No aspect of mission is more bogged down with extra-biblical baggage than the “missionary call.” The clear command of Christ “to go” should be, by itself, sufficient to set you on your way “into all the world. . . proclaiming the gospel to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15). You can’t go wrong by trying to go. Trust the Lord to direct your moving feet. If you are convinced of your “call” to “stay”, this will only serve as added confirmation that you are right. Don’t fear the risk of ending up some place the Lord doesn’t want you. Too many already took that “risk” when they assumed a stateside ministry or vocation with no confirmation other than their own desires.

Dramatic calls to ministry are the exception. If you have it in your heart to go, then go. Then, lean on the sovereignty of God to get you where he wants you in the harvest. Don’t worry about “running ahead of God.” You aren’t that quick!

Try to Go

Paul tried to go into Asia, but the Lord wouldn’t let him. He then tried to go to Bithynia, but was “kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia.” Still, he kept trying to go. I count at least six cities in Acts 16 where Paul tried to take the gospel. It was only then that the Lord gave him a vision of the Macedonian. He woke up the next morning and immediately headed for the regions north, having “concluded that God had called them to preach the gospel in Macedonia.

The heavenly vision wasn’t a “call” to mission, it was specific guidance for missionaries that were already going.

The point? Don’t complicate the missionary call. Get radical with the going and God will get radical in the specific guiding.

David Sitton is the founder and president of To Every Tribe Ministries. David is a career church planting missionary who lived and worked in Papua New Guinea for 16 years, making first gospel contact with several headhunting, cannibalistic tribes.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011 

The Dash

by my uncle, Thom Rainer -I would be grateful if you joined him & me in praying for his brother, my dad, Sam Rainer, Jr.

When my son, Art Rainer, began work on the book we co-authored, Simple Life, he spent a good bit of time in a cemetery.

That’s right. A cemetery.

He found a cemetery near his home in Boca Raton, Florida, and simply walked from grave marker to grave marker. Listen to his simple explanation for this strange type of research.

“I came to this cemetery to gain perspective. I could not think of a more inspirational location than to be surrounded by those whose earthly story had come to an end. If they could, what would they tell us? Now that their lives are over, what wisdom would they want to pass on? What were their regrets? Where did they get it right? Though the sands of time in my life’s hourglass are still running for me, with every breath I breathe, I am moving toward my physical closure.

“My body will become like theirs.

“On each grave marker is a dash between two years. The dash is time, and that is where we are, in our dash. And before there is some year placed on the other end, we need to figure this thing out.”

The Dash Hits Home

This past week was tough. My older brother, Sam Rainer, had open heart surgery. The surgery went well. The road to recovery looked great. But two days later he had a stroke.

As I sat next to him in the intensive care unit, I reflected about our family. Our parents died years ago. Our sister died as an infant. In our original family, it’s just the two of us. And there he was with a newly repaired heart dealing with the aftermath of a stroke in the intensive care unit.

The dash got really rough for him this week.

I love my brother. But we haven’t spent a lot of time together the past several years. Our families have grown. We both have grandchildren. And we both have jobs that keep us busy.

But sitting next to him in ICU, I realized how much I missed him. And I prayed for his recovery and healing. Most of the prayers were for him, but some of them were selfish prayers. I want to spend time with him. I want to have long conversations with him.

I need to work on my dash.

The Incredible Brevity of Life

I turned 56 years old several days ago. How did I get this old this quickly? By actuarial standards, I’ve entered the fourth quarter of my life. But the end could come much quicker. The dash will have a number on its right side in the blink of an eye.

How am I doing in the dash? Pretty good, but not good enough. My lack of time with my brother the past few years was a clear reminder that I sometimes get too busy for my own good.

You and Your Dash

So how are you doing in your dash? Are you spending lots of time with your family? Are you spending time with God in prayer and His Word? Are you cherishing and developing your friendships?

How are you doing in your job? Are you joyous in your work? Or are you miserable, fearful of taking a chance somewhere else for the wrong reasons?

Do you have broken relationships that need to be restored? Do you need to take the initiative to see those relationships healed?

Are you so busy doing “things” that you fail to take time to do the things that really matter? Do you need to call or write someone? Do you need to go see someone?

How would someone else view your dash? Would they see you as a joyous person, full of life and energy? Or would they view you as hypercritical, never happy, never satisfied?

How is your dash? Mine could use some improvement.

And please pray for my brother.

That’s one part of my dash where I pray I’ll be given another chance to get it right.

Sunday, July 24, 2011 

Music Lyric Monday

Lead Us Back

by Bobby Gilles and Brooks Ritter

Falling down upon our knees
Sharing now in common shame
We have sought security
Not the cross that bears your name
Fences guard our hearts and homes
Comfort sings a siren tune
Weʼre a valley of dry bones
Lead us back to life in you.

Lord we fall upon our knees
We have shunned the weak & poor
Worshiped beauty courted kings
And the things their gold affords
Prayed for those weʼd like to know
Favor sings a siren tune
Weʼve become a talent show
Lead us back to life in you

Lord youʼve caused the blind to see
We have blinded them again
With our man-made laws and creeds
Eager ready to condemn
Now we plead before your throne
Power sings a siren tune
Weʼve been throwing heavy stones
Lead us back to life in you.

Weʼre a valley of dry bones
Lead us back to life in you.
Weʼve become a talent show
Lead us back to life in you
Weʼve been throwing heavy stones
Lead us back to life in you.

Monday, July 18, 2011 

Disaster Highlights Plight of Japanese Orphans

An infant earthquake victim rests at an evacuation center on March 27, 2011 in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan.

Athit Perawongmetha / Getty Images

by Lucy Birmingham:

When concerned foreigners began contacting Japanese agencies about adopting children orphaned by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, they were told, "No, thank you. We can take care of our own." Though Japanese families occasionally adopt males to continue the family line, adoption is relatively rare here. Relative wealth, good social services and a shrinking population generally keep the numbers of orphans low.

In the aftermath of the disaster, however, there are growing concerns that the country is not, in fact, caring for its own. About 200 children lost both parents and an additional 1,200 lost one parent to the earthquake or tsunami. Most of the orphans are now living with relatives, but with unemployment at 90% in some areas orphanages may become the only option. It is very difficult, though, to get kids out of these welfare institutions and into permanent homes. (Read about Americans wanting to adopt Japanese orphans.)

The problem is twofold. Many Japanese still consider adoption shameful, and children, when grown, are expected to take care of their elders. If a family is struggling financially or a guardian is deemed to be abusive, it may have to put a child into an orphanage, but refuse to put the child up for adoption. "Although they grow up in a facility, it's expected they'll take care of their parents or relatives once they leave," explains Sarah Gordon of adoption agency Ai No Kesshin (Loving Decisions), located in Shizuoka west of Tokyo. "People here have very strong feelings about bloodlines." This means few children are available for full, legal adoption. In 2009, only 10% of the 37,600-plus children under 18 living in welfare institutions were adopted or taken in by foster families, government statistics show. Many facilities are overcrowded as the reported number of child abuse cases has increased since a a child abuse prevention law was enacted in 2000.

For American Leza Lowitz and her Japanese husband Shogo Oketani, it was a joyous day when they were finally able to bring home their adopted 2-year-old son Yuto. The waiting for an available child had been difficult. Although the couple were solid parental candidates as Tokyo homeowners in a long-term marriage, and adoption in their respective families, they were both in their mid-40s and considered low priority. "We said we'd take any child available. It was a huge leap of faith," said Lowitz. "Yuto was an unusual case and the orphanage was very eager to find him a family." The only child available out of 100 in one orphanage, he'd already been adopted once and brought back when things didn't work out.

"Since there are so many children in orphanages who can't be legally adopted out, the adoption system [in Japan] needs to change," says Lowitz. "It's not serving the children or the society." She cites the need for counseling birth parents considering an orphanage or adoption for their child, and also a statute of limitations on legal parental claim. Now, unless a parent relinquishes their rights as legal guardian, a child cannot be adopted even if they live in a welfare facility long-term. "The reality is that very few take them back or even visit. It's just heartbreaking."

Kids living in orphanages are sometimes called "throw away children." In Japanese society the social stigma of not having a family can be crippling, especially when its time to leave the facility, usually at age 15-18. "When I was growing up in orphanages I sensed the staff was fulfilling their responsibilities but I didn't feel protected or loved," reveals Sayuri Watai, 27, founder of a support organization run by and for 'graduates' of childhood welfare facilities. Leaving child welfare facilities can be overwhelming, she says. "When I had to leave the orphanage I was all alone. I had no one to turn to," she reveals.

Improving privacy and promoting temporary foster care programs might help ease the heart-ache. One major reason adoption rates are low is the lack of confidentiality in the Japanese family registry, called koseki. One form, requested by some employers and even potential spouses, lists information on all marriages, divorces, deaths, births and adoptions. A child listed as adopted out of the family is potentially embarrassing, as it may be seen as a sign the child was unplanned or unwanted. "The koseki system is handy because all records are kept in one place, but the lack of privacy is a problem," says Gordon. (Read about adopting Chinese orphans after the Sichuan earthquake.)

Fostering, a short-term alternative to adopting, was only recently promoted in Japan. With the government's "Child Rearing Vision" established in January last year the aim is to increase the percentage of children with foster families from 6% in 2000 to 16% in 2014. In Tokyo the number of registered foster families has doubled from 215 in 1998 to 445 in 2010. A program called "Hotto Family" has been the focus. "Compared with other industrialized countries, Japan's foster home care system is not well established," says Toshinari Suetake with the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. "But efforts are being made to change this."

Until the system does change, there are organizations and individuals offering some help. Tokyo-based, NPO Ashinaga (named for the novel "Daddy-Long-Legs"), provides school scholarships, living expenses and counseling for orphans and children of single-parent households. (UNICEF defines 'orphan' as a child who has lost one or both parents.) From the disaster-affected Tohoku region, the group has received over 1,100 applications for assistance. They'll be able to fulfill these thanks to a recent surge in donations of 1.7 billion yen (US$21 million).

One exceptional donor is telecommunications billionaire Masayoshi Son, president and CEO of Softbank Corp., who announced in May that he will donate 10 billion yen (US$125 million) of his personal fortune to disaster relief efforts. Four billion yen ($50 million) of that will be aid to orphans. The focus will be on offering the children scholarships and support for overseas education. Son added that he will also be donating to orphan relief efforts his entire 108 million yen (US$1.3 million) annual salary until the day he retires.

Other recent efforts include the Candle Fund, an NGO founded by Rie Sasaki-Herman. The aim is financial and emotional support for mothers, children and orphans of the disaster. "So far, the focus in the Tohoku region has been on adults," says Sasaki-Herman. "Now it is the voice of children that needs to be heard."

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2081820,00.html#ixzz1Ru84Vn9m

Thursday, July 14, 2011 

History: The World Missions Made

Mead highlights the role of American missionaries not only in hte formation of a moral Wilsonian foreign policy, but in the creation of “global civil society.” He goes so far as to suggest that the “very concept of a global civil society comes to us out of the missionary movement.”

He adds, “Certainly before the missionaries no large group of people set out to build just such a world. The concept that ‘backward’ countries could and should develop into Western-style industrial democracies grew up among missionaries, and missionary relief and development organizations like World Vision and Catholic Relief Services remain at the forefront of development efforts. The idea that the governments of the Western world had a positive duty to support the development of poor countries through financial aid and other forms of assistance similarly comes out of the missionary world. Most contemporary international organizations that provide relief from natural disasters, shelter refugees, train medical practitioners for poor countries, or perform other important services on an international basis can trace their origin either to missionary organizations or to the missionary milieu.”

In this context, literal interpretations of Genesis proved politically and socially progressive: “At a time when advanced opinion in the western world was increasingly susceptible to theories of eugenics, ‘scientific racism’ and social Darwinism, missionaries, sometimes acting on the basis of a literal reading of Genesis, stoutly maintained that human beings of all races and nations were descended from common ancestors, shared a common and universal heritage, and were all possessed of equal and inalienable rights.”

- Peter Leithart

Wednesday, July 13, 2011 

American Religion History: Mission Reflux

Without American missionaries, no Transcendentalism, says Mead (almost):

“Missionary endeavors to translate the sacred writings of other faiths into English may have been for the purposes of arming Westerners for religious controversy with the heathens, but the ideas of those texts quickly found a place in American thought. Emerson and Thoreau read Hindu scriptures, and their thought, and the development of American intellectual life, was deeply influenced by these ideas.”

- Peter Leithart

Tuesday, July 12, 2011 

MacArthur, Missionary

Mead again: “After [World War II], General MacArthur’s reconstruction of Japan was essentially an implementation of the missionary program at the point of bayonets. The traditional ruler gave up his claim to divinity; freedom of religion was established; feudalism was abolished and land distributed to the peasants; women were emancipated; a Western, democratic system of government was introduced; freedom of the press was granted; trade unions were legalized, and war was outlawed. Without the long missionary experience Americans would have had neither the chutzpah or the know-how that characterized the occupation in Japan, a foreign policy venture that despite all the attendant controversy is generally considered one of the most important and successful initiatives in American history.”

- Peter Leithart

Monday, July 04, 2011 

On Religion

He has a point - even most Christians live practically as Nihilists. It has caused us to be a death stench to God & the watching world instead of a beautiful aroma:

Sunday, July 03, 2011 


Darlington Nagbe of the Portland Timbers

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