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A Picture of the Gospel: Christian Workers at Nuclear Plant in Japan

My twin brother, Mark Wolter:

There are several Christian men working on the pipe connection for the cooling system of the Fukushima nuclear plant. These are workers that have volunteered to essentially sacrifice their lives for the good of their country and the world. I find it interesting that so many are Christians despite there being about 1 Christian man in every 400 people in Japan. Please pray for these men. (Read the rest ...)

Continuing to Pray for Japan

Please continue to pray for the people of Japan. I posted a couple videos and John Piper's prayer below.  In the first video, my twin brother, Mark, appears at about 9:20 sharing about how he's been affected by the earthquake.  The second video shows more of the unbelievable devastation.

Father in heaven, you are the absolute Sovereign over the shaking of the earth, the rising of the sea, and the raging of the waves. We tremble at your power and bow before your unsearchable judgments and inscrutable ways. We cover our faces and kiss your omnipotent hand. We fall helpless to the floor in prayer and feel how fragile the very ground is beneath our knees.

O God, we humble ourselves under your holy majesty and repent. In a moment—in the twinkling of an eye—we too could be swept away. We are not more deserving of firm ground than our fellowmen in Japan. We too are flesh. We have bodies and homes and cars and family and precious places. We know that if we were treated according to our sins, who could stand? All of it would be gone in a moment. So in this dark hour we turn against our sins, not against you.

And we cry for mercy for Japan. Mercy, Father. Not for what they or we deserve. But mercy.

Have you not encouraged us in this? Have we not heard a hundred times in your Word the riches of your kindness, forbearance, and patience? Do you not a thousand times withhold your judgments, leading your rebellious world toward repentance? Yes, Lord. For your ways are not our ways, and your thoughts are not our thoughts.

Grant, O God, that the wicked will forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts. Grant us, your sinful creatures, to return to you, that you may have compassion. For surely you will abundantly pardon. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord Jesus, your beloved Son, will be saved.

May every heart-breaking loss—millions upon millions of losses—be healed by the wounded hands of the risen Christ. You are not unacquainted with your creatures' pain. You did not spare your own Son, but gave him up for us all.

In Jesus you tasted loss. In Jesus you shared the overwhelming flood of our sorrows and suffering. In Jesus you are a sympathetic Priest in the midst of our pain.

Deal tenderly now, Father, with this fragile people. Woo them. Win them. Save them.

And may the floods they so much dread make blessings break upon their head.

O let them not judge you with feeble sense, but trust you for your grace. And so behind this providence, soon find a smiling face.

In Jesus’ merciful name, Amen.

Japan, My Twin Brother, and News Article

By now all of you know about the devastating earthquake in Japan.  Many of you also know that my twin brother is a missionary there in Kyoto.  He and his family are doing fine as they live about 450 miles from the epicenter.  They did feel the tremors, but their big concern now is praying for and helping the people of Japan.  Go to his blog and read more about what he had to say. I was interviewed today by WHAS.  Here's the brief article. There may be a couple more interviews coming.  Pray for the right words to speak that would honor God in this time.

Favre and the Fear of Man

Did you see Al Michael's interview with Brett Favre last night? I think it revealed a few things about why he came back another year. 1) Favre hesitated in making a decision to come back because he fears failure and he fears man. He said that he did not want to let people down either by playing or not playing another year. 2) Favre misses the camaraderie of being part of a team ... he said there's nothing like it! 3) Favre knows he will make a lot of money. No brainer.

Whatever the reason ... I'm glad he's playing another year for my favorite team -- the Vikes!

The Case Against Over-Parenting

OverparentingOkay, I'll be the first to admit it.  I'm an overprotective parent.  I have a tendency to overdo it and obsess over the little things that don't really matter.  I guess that's why I was intrigued by this week's cover of TIME magazine entitled: The Case Against Over-Parenting: Why Mom and Dad Need to Cut the Strings. Nancy Gibbs begins her article with these provocative words:

The insanity crept up on us slowly: we just wanted the best for our kids. 

Ironically, a good desire has led many parents to become obsessed with their kids' safety and success.  Gibbs calls them "helicopter parents" as they hover over their children's lives from the classroom to the ball field protecting them and pushing them to succeed. 

The result?  By worrying about the wrong things, Gibbs says, "we do actual damage to our children, raising them to be anxious and unadventurous."  (Pediatricians have also found that this hurried lifestyle of constant pressure and stress can contribute to health problems like childhood obesity and depression).

So what's the solution?  Well, if the problem was simply hovering over our children's lives, the solution would be to simply back off and lighten up.  And there's some truth to that!  But the problem goes much deeper. 

The problem is that we are afraid.  If our greatest aim as parents is to protect our children and prepare them to receive some kind of academic or athletic recognition, than most likely we are parenting out of fear.  Why?  Because deep down we're scared if they don't succeed.  We feel like we've failed as parents.  So we work hard to prepare our children to make the grade or make the team so we would look good.  It's like our children are little trophies that we, as Paul Tripp says, "secretly want to display on the mantels of our lives as visible testimonies to a job well done" (Age of Opportunity, p. 35). 

If we were honest we would admit that much of our parenting is motivated by fear.  That's what keeps us from lightening up and letting go of the reins.  And what's more, as Christians we spend so much time protecting our children from the world that we fail to prepare them to make a difference in this world.  Biblical parenting, however, pictures parents as courageous warriors getting ready to release their children into battle.  Psalm 127:4 says,

Like arrows in the hand of a warrior so are the children of one’s youth.

Arrows were made to fly.  They can’t sit safely in the quiver or rest on the bow forever.  They must be released!  That's what our preparation is ultimately for--to release our children into this world equipped with the gospel of Jesus Christ to serve people for the glory of Christ. 

So lighten up all you helicopter parents!  (me included).  Let go of the reins.  Parent your children as God parents you.  Protect them, yes.  But all the while prepare them ... so you can release them ... to fly into the battle with the glory of the gospel.

  • Read the article yourself in TIME magazine online
  • Read more on Missional Parenting
  • Read another post on Growing Up Too Fast and Then Not Fast Enough

Seeing 9/11 from afar

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How does this picture affect you?  In some ways, it makes light of the up-close, horrific events of that day.  But in other ways, it reminds us that every day all across the world there is untold suffering and tragedy that no one ever sees, save One.  And thankfully, He is not a distant, apathetic Observer, but a personal and loving Savior who entered into our world and suffered more than any other person will ever suffer again to ultimately overcome our suffering and bring us into his arms of grace.  Run to him today and rest in his love for you on the cross.

(HT: Z)

Let's Teach Our Children to Respect the President

Alan Silverlieb of CNN News:

Educators across America found themselves at the center of a political storm this week as conservatives exploded in anger over President Obama's plans to give a speech to the country's schoolchildren.

A stunned White House insisted the address, planned for Tuesday, is meant to encourage students to study hard and stay in school.

Many parents said they aren't buying it. They said they're convinced the president is going to use the opportunity to press a partisan political agenda on impressionable young minds.

"Thinking about my kids in school having to listen to that just really upsets me," a suburban Colorado mother, Shanneen Barron, told CNN affiliate KMGH-TV in Denver. "I'm an American. They are Americans, and I don't feel that's OK. I feel very scared to be in this country with our leadership right now."  (Read the rest).

I don't know all of what President Obama will address in his speech, but I do know this--we need to teach our children to respect the president of the United States.  Years ago it was a big deal to hear the President speak.  We respected who he was and what he had to say.  Now we feel the need to blast him before he even speaks.  Please hear me.  It doesn't mean we will agree with everything he says, but clearly the Bible teaches us that we are to respect and honor those who govern us (Rom. 13:1-7).  So perhaps instead of worrying so much about what the President might say and what our kids might hear, let's pray for our president (1 Tim. 2:1-2) and model for our children an attitude of respect for him and for our God who is sovereign over all and holds Obama's heart in his hands (Prov. 21:1).

If the World Were a Village of 100 People

Sometimes I need to get out of the little bubble of my life and remember the reality of the big world I live in.  Statistics like these from Family Care Foundation help to do just that: If we could reduce the world’s population to a village of precisely 100 people, with all existing human ratios remaining the same, the demographics would look something like this:

  • The village would have 60 Asians, 14 Africans, 12 Europeans, 8 Latin Americans, 5 from the USA and Canada, and 1 from the South Pacificchin07
  • 51 would be male, 49 would be female
  • 82 would be non-white; 18 white
  • 67 would be non-Christian; 33 would be Christian
  • 80 would live in substandard housingkisumu-kid1
  • 67 would be unable to read
  • 50 would be malnourished and 1 dying of starvation
  • 33 would be without access to a safe water supply
  • 39 would lack access to improved sanitationchin101
  • 24 would not have any electricity (And of the 76 that do have electricity, most would only use it for light at night.)
  • 7 people would have access to the Internet
  • 1 would have a college education
  • 1 would have HIV
  • 2 would be near birth; 1 near death
  • 5 would control 32% of the entire world’s wealth; all 5 would be US citizens
  • 33 would be receiving –and attempting to live on– only 3% of the income of “the village”

 For the full report, click here.

(HT: JustOneChild)

Michael Phelps, Marijuana, and the Message of Christ

Karen Crouse, writing for the New York Times on Michael Phelps' marijuana pipe:

This is what I find so striking: A man whose chest has been covered with gold medals, has achieved international fame, showered with awards, and blessed with an incomprehensible amount of money, still feels compelled to press his face to a bong.

C.J. Mahaney responds:

It was Augustine who said that the soul is restless until it finds its rest in God. So true. Only God can satisfy the soul. Only the gospel of Jesus Christ provides forgiveness of sin, and therefore it is here in this gospel that we find rest for our restless souls.

Study the unflattering picture of Michael Phelps to be reminded of the deceitfulness of sin and the superficiality of fame and money. But also study the picture to be reminded of the message of Christ and him crucified for restless sinners like you, and me, and Michael Phelps.

  • Read Crouse's article, Phelps Apologizes for Marijuana Pipe
  • Read Mahaney's article, Michael Phelp's Bong