Our God, Eager to Save

Posted January 10, 2010

Tomohisa had reached a coveted status in Japan’s vertically-ordered society: medical doctor. Along with the status came wealth, which he used to buy the affection of women…and lots of booze. His selfishness blinded... [Read More]

The Humbled Tsunami

Posted December 2, 2011

When the warning sirens went off, residents in a south Sendai neighborhood fled to the local school. Together with panicked children still in class they climbed to the rooftop. Some 600 altogether... [Read More]

Japanese Get "Bach" Hope

Posted September 21, 2011

Who would have thought Bach would be involved in 21st century mission work in Japan? I have frequently read with interest of the strong connection between classical music (particularly J.S. Bach) and Japanese interest... [Read More]

Tsunami Ground Zero

Posted April 7, 2011

I still haven't returned from tsunami ground zero. That is to say, although I've been back several days already, the reality of the scene is still with me. The incredible amounts of mud in once beautiful homes... [Read More]

"Nice Try, Kevin" File

Posted February 9, 2011

This one goes into the "Nice try, Kevin" file. I just thought it was a nice-looking bunch of flowers in the storefront and, on the spur of the moment, decided Kaori deserved to enjoy them. Chrysanthemums, however, are... [Read More]

The Gulliver Complex

Posted November 9, 2007

I'm a giant again. Well, not really. But it sure feels like it again since returning from the States. The first sign was bumping my head in the shuttle bus from the airport. By habit, I normally duck my head through any... [Read More]

Foreigners Don't Get the Point

Posted January 31, 2010

I'm standing in line at a drugstore with other shoppers. The woman in front of me has just pulled out a business card file. Hurriedly she flips through at least a hundred or more cards searching for the right one. It's a... [Read More]

More Powerful than Bombs

Posted July 5, 2008

Fuchida grew up loving his native Japan and hating the United States, which treated Asian immigrants harshly in the first half of the twentieth century. Fuchida attended a military academy, joined Japan's... [Read More]

Ready?

Posted September 14, 2010

I'd been putting it off. Although I knew it was important, taking inventory of our earthquake and disaster gear just wasn't getting done. Japan rests along the "ring of fire" in the Pacific ocean, a stretch of area that is... [Read More]

150 Years Later

Posted March 17, 2009

This spring marks the 150th anniversary of Protestant Christianity in Japan. The first protestant missionaries set foot in the port of Yokohama back in 1859. Now they were real church planters -- overcoming all... [Read More]

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I for Japan. Japan for the World. The World for Christ. And All for the Glory of God.

— Kanzo Uchimura, Japanese Evangelist

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Rambling Notes from Japan

Here are some blog posts that we hope will make you feel a part of things, and help you understand how to pray better for us and Japan. Please see our external blog in Blogger, if this page does not display correctly.

A Church Without Doors

There's a church without doors in Miyako, Japan. We've seen it for ourselves! The love of Christ spills out of the building and into the community.

"Up until the 311 tragedy, most Japanese didn't even know a Christian. They didn't feel anything toward the church or Christianity period!" says a Miyako Community Church member when I asked her about the impact of the ongoing relief work. "The tsunami changed things. Now, many people around here can say they know a Christian!"

Our team of six from our church plant, Denen Grace Chapel, again worked in the tsunami-struck area for a weekend last month, and can testify to Mrs S's words. Now, through the work of literally hundreds of Christian volunteer relief workers, many understand what Christianity is about: a neighbor there in their time of need with God's words and hands of hope.

Even the local police!

My heart skipped a beat when the Japanese police officer approached our vehicle. I was in the driver's seat; our church team rode behind. We had just stopped at a scenic overlook when the patrol car pulled in next to us. "Are you a church?" the officer asked. "Yes," I managed, confused as to why he would ask and not sure whether this admission would lend credibility or suspicion to my case. "Thanks for your work!" he replied. Then added cheerfully, "Say 'hi' to Pastor Iwatsuka." He recognized our borrowed church vehicle and just wanted to say thanks!

This was another reminder of the impact this church has had in the community since 311. Even the police can say they know a Christian, and have a good opinion of the church's work! Pastor I is now an integral part of community networks, involved in ways the church used to be shut out from.

I preached at the church on Sunday AM, giving Pastor Iwatsuka a needed break. Our team brought some special music. Attendance numbered maybe a dozen or so, typical size for a Japanese church. But that's not their real size...

God has thrown away the doors of the church to provide it with perhaps the greatest opportunity for community engagement in Japan in the last 100 years. And this little church has seized it. Of the 60+ temporary housing areas around Miyako, the church has a ongoing presence in 26 of them!

Into the Community

We follow Pastor Iwatsuka to our first venue: a cluster of temporary housing in Miyako. Pastor I explains the dynamics and challenges for the people in these tiny barrack-like quarters. Three years after the disaster, lack of progress and despair has resulted in mental problems. Suicide is up. 8 out of 10 men are at risk.
Pastor I greets the residents by name, and casually picks up conversations on things they had previously talked about. He knows them!

Meanwhile, we set to action. First, we go door to door, distributing the small gifts and Scripture bookmarks we prepared, and inviting the residents to join our "mobile cafe" in the community room. There, our own Mrs. U has prepared a Bible calligraphy lesson. Residents trace simple Scripture verses like "The joy of the Lord is my strength." We serve hot coffee. I share a short message from the Bible. We sing and pray together. Then we serve them lunch: taco rice and salad. The men are reluctant to come out, so we hand deliver this meal to some of those shut-ins.

We say our goodbyes. Everyone steals a hug from the odd American (myself). Then we go to another temporary housing area and do it all again.

New Waves

This is our fifth trip to post-tsunami Japan as a church, and my ninth visit. The long trek up and back (12 hours by car) is exhausting, but the work is exhilarating. And it REALLY matters to the survivors. Some were near tears, reluctant to let us leave, even following us to our vehicle. Pastor I showed us the activity calendar on the community room's wall. The church-sponsored mobile cafes were the only thing they had! Other NPO activity and volunteers have dried up or moved on. But the church remains!

Though we're still careful to honor the community's rules (no overly pushy proselytizing), none really mind us opening the Bible, praying with them, and using creative means (like calligraphy) to bring God's gospel words of hope. And I've never heard a more tear-jerking strain of "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" than the one the residents sing together with us. For the first time, parts of northern Japan are learning that they have a friend in the church, and a friend in Jesus. They are seeing a church without doors lovingly engaging their community and lives.

Pastor I takes us to the harbor around sunset. He shows us a tsunami warning tower with markings on the wall that indicate the height of the previous waves [see photo]. Wow! Yet that great wave of destruction on 311 was followed by greater waves of Christian testimony, and, I believe, will in time produce a great wave of spiritual awakening in northern Japan.

Would you pray for this ongoing relief work among the people of northern Japan? Pray that more would want to know what motivates these Christians to keep coming and keep loving them.

I have uploaded more photos for you to view. More info on Taro (the super seawall town) relief work on our blog here, here, and here.



Volunteering Once More in Miyako

Looking out from atop the stairways of the pristine Jodogahama beach, you wouldn't think that anything tragic could possibly occur here. The surroundings are simply too idyllic. <View Photo Gallery>

Clear blue ocean water laps gently ashore. Sun glints off gorgeous white rock formations and cliffs that enclose the bay. Sightseers laugh aboard the many boats exploring caves and shoreline. This scenic sanctuary is panoramic eye candy. You can easily see why it is the pride of Miyako. In spite of its remote location, the beach attracts many people to an area that is otherwise just another set of fishing towns along the Iwate coastline.

Looking out from atop another stone formation -- a manmade seawall -- just a few kilometers away, you quickly realize that something went horribly wrong here. The double wall expected to protect the town of Taro was crushed to pieces by the tsunami of 311. The town was washed away, people and property lost for good. Tall grass and weeds now cover barren foundations where houses once stood. You feel the weight of  sadness and despair that survivors have needed to work through these past couple years.

Our volunteer team of 7 from Denen Grace Chapel once again had the joy of spending time among these survivors in the temporary housing areas around Miyako. More than two and a half years later, smiles come more easily and hearts are just a little more open. In two different locations, we first went door to door with a small gift (bookmark with Bible verse, rice cracker and candy) and invited residents to our cafe in the central meeting room. Here we offered a program of food (we made lots of sandwiches), coffee/tea, special music and karaoke, and bingo. I learned that the game of bingo is a serious matter among residents when prizes (daily consumables) are involved.

VBS kids from First Baptist Church of Little Falls, NY had sent candy and prepared many encouraging letters for us to distribute. We translated many of these cards and letters and passed them out with the candy to the residents. The American candy was a big hit. Residents commented that it tasted "refreshing" and were touched that so many strangers remembered them.

A time of singing with residents included familiar folk songs and hymns, and -- in an experiment -- Christian lyrics set to well-known Japanese tunes. Residents sang them eagerly. I think we may have created a new stream of contextualized Christian music. <View Photo Gallery>

Our local church partnership for this work was Miyako Community Church. This church, with the help of many volunteers, has ministered to most of the 60+ temporary housing areas on an ongoing basis. For the church's Sunday worship service, our team prepared the music and special numbers. I (Kevin) preached a message on "Our Burden-Bearing Good Shepherd" to give Pastor Iwatsuka a needed break. A few residents from temporary housing were also in attendance. We enjoyed a beef curry lunch together afterwards. <View Photo Gallery>

Our team also performed special music on stage for an outdoor community festival in Miyako under threatening skies. Pastor Iwatsuka said that up until a few years ago the church was not allowed to participate in the community festival. But now, after seeing the faithful work of volunteers since 311, the organizers urged the church to contribute to the outdoor program. What a turnaround!

I was proud of our worship team leader's bold and thorough explanation of what the gospel lyrics meant as she introduced each song. We distributed lyric sheets -- along with a lot of American candy -- and sang "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" together with the gathered crowd. This song was the final act of the festival. No sooner had the team finished than the rain began to pour down. It was as though heaven cried.

It was a long road trip to Miyako. Ironically, it takes less time to go to Chicago from Kawasaki than it does to go to the temporary housing areas of Iwate. But we'd go back in a heartbeat. God has not left these people alone. He is reaching out to them through the hands and feet of his church volunteering there. And we sensed His love and renewing work in the hearts of people all around us. <View Photo Gallery>

Our family leaves for the States in just a few weeks. But after our return from the States in 2014, we look forward to visiting again. I can't wait to see what things of beauty God will do next in this place of past tragedy! See you again soon, Miyako!


Another Visit in Taro

I've just returned from a relief trip with a couple others members from our church plant in Kawasaki. I've written elsewhere on this blog about the coastal village of Taro and its great seawall broken and humbled on 311. It generates much emotion to visit an area so obviously devastated by the loss of so much. It will be many years before this place comes back. 

It's a 12 hour drive to Taro from Kawasaki, farther than an international flight from Tokyo to Chicago (and not any easier on the legs and back). The trip had a few unexpected "slips" and "turns" as we ran into a late-winter snowstorm near the coast. Japan generally does not do a lot of plowing, and no salting. So, the mountain roads were quite an adventure to navigate with "normal" tires. Fortunately, I had tire chains along. Unfortunately I had never had occasion to practice putting them on. The chains claimed to be "NO-PROBLEM-30-seconds-EZ-on-and-off chains." I can tell you, in the cold, dark and snow, it was nowhere near EZ. I finally gave up and crawled slowly, slipping and sliding, to the gas station for help. It took them 30 minutes. 

This trip was to a different demographic of people. The survivors who lost their homes in the tsunami have either moved out of the area, rebuilt elsewhere, or are living in temporary housing units. There are several such temporary housing villages within a short distance of Miyako/Taro. During our time in Taro we visited two of these. Nearly 1000 people were clustered together in each village in what resembles army barracks. Space is tight and living is cramped and uncomfortable.

We cooperated again with a local church to do some simple survivor care with these residents. We hosted "mobile cafes" to encourage gathering and sharing with one another. When we arrived in the villages, half the team went to set up the cafe, the other half knocked door-to-door and spread the word that the cafe would open soon. I could tell by the surprised look on some of the residents faces that they had not encountered a big-nose American recently, much less one that spoke Japanese at them. I'm not sure whether this generated more curiosity in the cafe...or more fear. 

We used a common room with rows of tables for our cafe. Off to one side, a table of Christian resources was set up. People looked through and took Christian literature as they pleased. Although we brewed some great coffee, these cafes were hardly quiet coffeehouse experiences. They were times of loud interaction as residents had a chance to share freely and process the events with relief workers. 

Restoring the social fabric of connectedness that was torn by the tsunami is probably the most difficult part of the recovery, but the most needed. One participant of such a cafe said to me, “If we didn’t have this cafe, I don’t think we’d be able to put up with this place (temporary housing communities)...I think I’d lose the fight with loneliness.” I had a particularly interesting discussion with one resident which I will share in a later post.

Unemployment in the tsunami areas is a real problem. Residents try to do their best with a little bit of government assistance and help from family. It will take a long time for the economy to come back. I noted, however, that the town now had a new gas station and convenience store to give people some options for essential things. Ironically, new vending machines were also in place alongside the otherwise barren area next to the sea wall. I suppose a can of hot coffee in the cold winter months is indeed a kind of emotional relief needed.


Without work, residents look for things to keep them busy. One resident shared her newly-acquired talent of basket-weaving. It seems this is a very therapeutic hobby. Her bags and baskets were so well made that we strongly encouraged her to consider selling some. We told her that many people would love to buy a well-made eco-bag for shopping in a desire to support the Tohoku recovery. Of course, true to rural Japanese form, she was very self-deprecating and resisted our praise. We did manage to get her to pose for a photo, though.

I have the sense that God is doing great things in this town and will build His church here in the years to come. The mission potential of historically tough towns like Taro has seen a reboot with the tsunami. Closed networks have cracked open. New networks are being created. A new spiritual openness exists. Community is being reborn. And in that newly forming community, the church will find an opening for its message.

Jesus said, "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:35). Taro can't deny that it is being gently loved by God's people. In this Christlike love, the church will put down roots in the "swampy soil" of Japan. Toward this end, would you continue to keep Taro and the Miyako area in your prayer?



No Room?

Here is one more story from the tsunami. This was passed along to me by missionary colleague, John Houlette, who helped clean the Matsukawa home of mold to prepare it for interior rebuilding. 

When the 311 earthquake struck, residents in a bay area city of Ishinomaki had precious few minutes to prepare for the tsunami that rushed ashore soon after. Mrs. Matsukawa managed to get herself and her elderly mother up to the second floor of their house before the wave arrived. From their bedroom window they watched the water wash large parts of their town away. People floated past their home. Many of them were soon overcome by the freezing temperature of the early March water. One elderly couple floated near enough for them to reach. The couple had been swimming hard and were completely exhausted. Mrs. Matsukawa called out encouragement, “Hang in there. It’s gonna be okay.” Then, with a small bit of makeshift rope (and no small bit of effort) she managed to pull the couple into her upstairs bedroom. The wife, however, had ingested too much debris-filled water and died on the floor. For five days the Matsukawas and this elderly man slept together in their upstairs room with the dead wife’s body. There was nowhere for them to escape to and no one had come to help.

Mrs. Matsukawa rescued others during those five days as well. Once, in the middle of the night, Mrs. Matsukawa heard a pounding on her window. She laughs now that her response to this knocking was to call out in a sweet voice, “Yes? Who is it, please?” A young mother in the neighborhood had paddled up to her window on a tree limb. When the tsunami struck, this young mother had a 4-year-old son in her hand and an infant strapped to her back. Both children were swept away. She alone was left clinging to a tree in a neighborhood yard. She pleaded for help to the family watching from the home. The family ignored her pleas and shut their windows. Mrs. Matsukawa, however, took this woman in. She piled layer after layer of clothing on the woman’s shivering body to warm her up. She shared the bit of chocolate snack she had left. She made room in her home, and in her already turbulent life, until help arrived days later.

Making Room
When I heard the story of Mrs. Matsukawa taking in a desperate young woman, and another neighbor rejecting the woman, I was reminded of the Christmas story. God was acting out of self-sacrifice and love; man was responding out of self-preservation and rejection. Although not a Christian, Mrs. Matsukawa certainly acted in a Christ-like way. Her neighbor, however, acted more like the innkeepers of Bethlehem. And lest we be too hard on the innkeeper, let’s remember that we, too, have more than once failed to give Jesus his rightful space in our lives. We, too, have unintentionally sent him to “the stable” of our lives on many occasions. 

Although this world and I fail at times to make room for the Son of God, I am thankful that my Savior made room for me: leaving the joys of heaven for the pains of earth, bringing me into relationship with the Father, preparing for me an eternal dwelling.

Our Savior still seeks room in the hearts of people. And the challenge of making room for Christ in my Bethlehem Inn-like heart is certainly reflected by how I make room for his people. None of those of whom God brings into my life will likely ever come paddling up to my window on a tree limb, but many are equally desperate. Although not a Christian, Mrs. Matsukawa certainly responded to the need around her in a Christ-like way. Her response challenges my heart. How about you?



The Humbled Tsunami

When the tsunami warning sirens went off, residents in a south Sendai neighborhood fled to the local school. Together with panicked children still in class they climbed to the rooftop. Some 600 altogether watched as the great tsunami of 311 surged ashore and crushed everything in its path, including a church several hundred feet away between themselves and the shoreline. The raging wave came to the very brink of the school roof, but rose no further. Aerial footage that day showed the group of traumatized survivors huddled together and completely surrounded by water. The tsunami had wiped out everything else. (See Google map of location)

The school roof had saved them. Or had it? Some residents had a different story: “When the tsunami came near that church, it fell to the ground. That was how Nakano Elementary school was saved. If the tsunami had flooded in as it was, all 600 people would have been swept away.” The Seaside Bible Chapel took the worst of the blow, shielding the school just enough from the full force of the water. The school roof refugees were spared. A resident commented: “God sacrificed His own temple to save the children.”

God sacrificing his own to save many. The story has a familiar gospel ring to it. Hasn’t God done the same for us, his children? He’s held back the full punishment headed our way and let it crush down instead upon His beloved Son. That's real salvation!

What’s more, He now humbles personal tsunamis in our lives daily. Most of the schooltop survivors probably overlooked a destroyed church as God’s way of holding back the full force of the waters so it would not overcome them. How easy it is for us, though, to miss God’s work. The storm obeys him. Waters are permitted only so far in our lives and no further: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. When you pass through the rivers, they will not flow over you.” Isa 43:2

The end? No, God still has good things for the seaside church. The cross was found among wreckage and placed atop a beam (photo above). There it speaks powerfully to the many people that pass by. In the last 8 months the church has seen more visitors coming to pray in that location than in all its years of existence. The church itself, the members, are meeting in a coffee house. The video clip here tells a little about the effective outreach God has given them already. God has his “Easter Sunday” good purposes in every “Good Friday” disaster!



Relief Work in Miyako-Taro

Taro is a mid-sized fishing community along the hard-to-evangelize coastal area of northern Japan. Twice in Taro's past (1896 and 1933) the town experienced major tsunamis that destroyed much. Small seawalls were built. Then in the 1960's Taro came up with a final solution: a 40-foot high super seawall built at the cost of billions of yen. The town felt secure and took great pride in this human testament to engineering. People felt so secure that they built their new houses right up along the outskirts of the wall. Then came 311. The tsunami completely demolished an older, smaller seawall and easily crested the super seawall. This time the loss of life was great. In the video I've posted here you will see row upon row of unclaimed photo albums in the gymnasium of a town hall. These lives are lost or changed forever.

The "Jesus People" in Taro
Six of us from our church plant in Kawasaki drove to Taro. There is no church here, nor any church in most of these fishing towns along the coast. But a church in Morioka (see video of Pastor Kondo), 70 miles inland, is helping coordinate Christian relief and witness in these devastated towns. The suicide rate there has escalated dramatically post 311. So our focus was heart care: talking with residents, delivering food items, offering to pray, doing light cleaning, asking about their needs, and playing with children.

The people who survived the tsunami were amazingly open, breaking cultural norms to open their home, welcome us in, talk and receive the food items we brought. They were also very near to tears and struggling with survivor's guilt. Many of their friends and neighbors were washed away. They only survived because their homes were built higher up on the mountain side, or they were out of town at the time.

After nearly four months of Christian relief activity, there are early signs of God's work in Taro's healing. There has been no high-pressure evangelism, just steady care and intentional serving of local residents. Many are taking interest in the motivation for these volunteers. Some eagerly take Bibles and Christian literature put out at a outdoor cafe a volunteer team has set up. Others have begun calling these Christian volunteers "Kirisutosha" or "the Jesus people," a term of admiration that rings of what Antioch called early believers they couldn't make sense of.

Would you pray for the energy and strength of Christian volunteers entering towns along the coast just like Taro. The opportunities and needs are great, the resources so few. Pray for wisdom to stretch what God has given.

Would you pray that the people would turn away from manmade security, toward the security of the Everlasting Arms, and receive forgiveness in Christ. Now is the time for a great revival in coastal Japan!



Tsunami Stones

His family perished in the water along with hundreds of others. His beloved town was destroyed beyond recognition. His family home and grave markers were washed away. First the earthquake. Then the waves of water that crushed everything in their path. There was little warning of the tragedy that came ashore that day.

In the midst of his grief, the man desires that generations to come not endure the pain and sorrow that he is going through. They must be warned of the danger of tsunamis! They must not build homes along the shoreline! The man devises a warning system: a marker stone. The year is 1896. The Meiji-Sanriku tsunami has just killed 22,066 Japanese.

Hundreds of these stones are found along the coastline of Japan. Some are more than 600 years old. "High dwellings are the peace and harmony of our descendants,” one reads. "Remember the calamity of the great tsunamis," another stone warns. "Do not build any homes below this point,” an inscription on another stone advises.


In the bustle of modern Japan, many disregarded such good advice, building communities right along water's edge. Perhaps they took comfort in the sea walls built in the 1960's after a smaller tsunami. But in the town of Aneyoshi, a centuries-old stone saved the day. It was advice that a dozen or so households of Aneyoshi listened to carefully, and on March 11, 2011 their homes and lives were spared from a disaster that flattened low-lying towns all around.

A God that loves us infinitely and knows us completely desires that we be spared from personal disaster in this life. He desires that we be spared not from physical death, but from spiritual, emotional and relational death that poor choices and rejection of His ways can bring. His warnings are left for all generations to know and heed. The warnings in His Word are not raging outbursts from an angry God. His warnings are gracious love calls that say, "I am for you. I want you to enjoy everything I have to give you. Listen to my wisdom for your life."

"Today I am giving you a choice between prosperity and disaster, between life and death...Oh, that you would choose life, that you and your descendants might live." Deut. 30:15, 19 NLT


Symbols of Hope

As life in the Tokyo area returns to a new kind of "normal," the waves of challenges and sorrows continue in northern Miyagi and Iwate prefectures. It's easy to be so overwhelmed by the destruction and sadness of the area as to miss the symbols of hope...

A solitary pine tree remains standing on a destroyed beachfront. It withstood the tsunami that destroyed everything around it. The tree has been at the center of an intense rescue effort to preserve its life. Saltwater poisoning in the soil threatens to do it in, and so team of specialists dig around the tree, replace soil, and monitor its health. DNA is extracted to replant the area someday with bits of new hope from this symbol of living hope.

Not far away another tree stands. A cross rises up above the site of a destroyed church building. Although once a symbol of death, the cross is a great symbol of life. No effort needs to be made to preserve the cross. Rather the cross offers to preserve the lives of all around from sin that has poisoned the "soil" of this world, and threatens to do us all in. The vision and prayer of Christians from this church is to replant the area with the love of Christ, the DNA of the cross. A sign nearby proclaims: "We believe in the revival of this land! Special hope is found here."

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ." 1 Peter 1:3


Brace for Impact?

As small aftershocks keep coming two and a half months after the major 3/11 quake, Japan's hi-tech Earthquake Early Warning System is getting increasing scrutiny.

The hi-tech system was rolled out to much fanfare just a few years back. It's set up to ring, vibrate and flash the 125 million plus cell phones throughout Japan when an earthquake is imminent. Sounds great. Makes me feel more secure. Technology is infallible, right? The problem is that technology, and this system, still depends on a fallible human link.

The biggest failing of the system was with the 3/11 quake. No early warning from cell phones. Several hours later, long after the tsunami had done its worst, the cell phones spewed out their first warning of the day. No doubt the person asleep at the switch with this one paid for the mistake with his job.

Since then the person in charge of pushing the button to alert all cell phones seems to be overcompensating for the 3/11 early warning boondoggle. The alert sounds. The cell phone vibrates off the table, lights flashing. We scatter away from windows. We open doors that might get jammed. We grab something solid and wait. And then...and then...nothing.

It's not that we're disappointed there wasn't another aftershock, it's just that these "cry wolf" false warnings that rattle us out of bed and our days activities are making it harding to trust the early warning technology at all.

Create technology so we needn't depend on God. Find comfort and security in buttons and gizmos and transistors. This is the natural direction of man, full of himself and his desire to master and rule his world. There's nothing wrong with using God-given wisdom to create technology to better our lives. But when dependence on technology moves us away from dependence on God, a problem emerges in our heart. Japan has long had this unhealthy dependence on technology to the exclusion of God. Its spiritual awakening starts with realizing the limits of man's wisdom and abilities. Pray that this disaster will open Japan's eyes to the need for a dependable source of security, the unshakeable ROCK, our God.


Rock 'n Roll with the Beetles


Three days, two earthquakes, and one typhoon and tsunami. We've been watching as Tokyo has gotten drenched the last couple days under a barrage of rain and heavy wind pushed ahead of typhoon #6. It's been impressive weather! The usual resulting mudslides have left a lot of people with some major cleanup south of Tokyo. Imagine your house with a foot deep of mud in it!

As if that weren't enough to contend with, this morning a 6.6 magnitude quake struck the Tokyo region. It shook us out of bed, quite literally, around 5am. As is my usual custom, I ran to the TV to see where it was centered and how strong it was in that area. A 2 foot tsunami was also reported to be headed toward the Shizuoka area south of us. Although a hundred people were hurt, no one lost their life. The typhoon was much more deadly, with several dozen killed from the mudslides or swept away in the flash flooding.

Meanwhile the beetles continue to sing, the Japanese beetles (cicadas), that is. The hot steamy weather this time of year seems to be a source of nonstop celebration for them. They provide the background music everywhere you go, every hour of the day (and night). In a week or two they will begin dying, but for now the literally millions of them in our neighborhood make quite a sound! Walking outdoors at night, I've had many fly into me. This is always startles me a bit as they are large bugs and make a pretty big impact. Take a look at the video here to get an idea of what they sound like together.


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