O GOD, JAPAN!March 24th, 2011
“O God, Japan!” The 9.0 magnitude earthquake and thirty-foot tsunami that decimated northeastern Japan’s coastal cities (just as spring break began here on campus) is not only the sixth strongest quake on global record, but is also the most costly natural disaster in earth’s history. However, it is the human toll that has broken our collective heart.
Born to missionary parents in Tokyo and having spent the first 14 years of my life in the Land of the Rising Sun, I have felt the anguish of displaced Japanese who from afar have wept over the numbing television and computer screen images streaming out of the devastation. Haven’t you cried, too? How can we not, when this land of stalwart, industrious, orderly, polite and gracious almost to a fault people collectively cry out to their gods—to anyone who will listen, really—their unabashed pain and sorrow? In California last week with my mother, I stared at the black and white front page newspaper photograph of a Japanese woman sobbing over the lifeless hand of her mother, protruding from the tsunami wreckage of what was once their home. Doesn’t God weep with those who do?
What can we do, we who returned rested from our break to face the glory and joys of a new springtime across this campus? We must do something, mustn’t we—if we would not fall victim to what psychologists describe as “frozen emotions,” deep feelings prompted by television images, but never acted upon?
You may give on two fronts. ADRA International (the Adventist Development and Relief Agency, now headed by our own Rudi Maier) has mobilized its disaster response team in Japan to the crisis centers. ADRA Japan is coordinating its relief efforts in evacuation centers with the Japanese Department of Social Services. You can make your gift, as I did, at www.adra.org. Just click onto the “Japan Quake” banner when it appears and follow the simple directions. If you prefer to talk with an ADRA representative, you may call 1-800-424-ADRA.
A second front of this disaster is the damage sustained by our church in Japan. If you would like to contribute to the church’s rebuilding efforts, you may send your gift to the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists electronically at https://appeal.nadadventist.org/Japan, or you may make your check payable to: North American Division, Attn: 2011 Japanese Earthquake/Tsunami Fund, 12501 Old Columbia Pike, Silver Spring, MD 20904.
But there is a third way we must all respond. It is the simple prayer, “O God, Japan!” One hundred-sixteen million people—who celebrate births and marriages with a Shinto priest (the unique Japanese religion of animism, praying to the spirits of the deceased) and who are buried by a Buddhist priest, but who are otherwise secular and without religion or faith—surely the Savior of this world longs to breakthrough to this people where only one half of 1% are Christians. “O God, Japan!”
Won’t you join me in claiming this promise for the Land of the Rising Sun? “But to you who fear My name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings” (Malachi 4:2). Isn’t that incredible? Could it become a prophecy that one day the Land of the Rising Sun will truly become that—the land upon which the Sun of Righteousness will shine down his healing grace and saving power? “O God, Japan!” We must pray. And we must go.
The Testimony of a Tax CollectorMarch 18th, 2011
Whatever possessed a rich, well-to-do man like Zacchaeus to climb a tree just to get a glimpse of Jesus? Today’s sermon, based on the Bible story found in Luke 19:1-10, spins a tale of the way it might have been.
Come with me as we travel to the backside of the Roman Empire, into the sweltering, fly-infested land of Palestine. We continue our track across difficult terrain until we reach the fragrant field city of Jericho. Here is the home of the despised man, Zacchaeus, a tax collector.
Today we will join Zacchaeus on a tax–collecting trip. Our goal will be to answer this question: What was it that made Zacchaeus throw embarrassment, shame, and ridicule all to the wind, to do something as uncharacteristic as climbing up a tree and crawling right out onto the limb — for all to see?
Prayer of Francis DrakeMarch 3rd, 2011
Several months ago someone sent me the 1577 prayer of “England’s most famous sailor and explorer,” Sir Francis Drake. A quick check of Wikipedia revealed that this swash-buckling privateer (a private ship owner authorized by the government to prey on foreign vessels during a time of war) was never a candidate for Anglican sainthood. Nevertheless his circumnavigation of the world on his vessel The Golden Hind remains one of history’s great records.
But it is his prayer—found in his ship’s diary and composed on the eve of one of his grand ventures—that I find particularly moving, especially on this Sabbath when our pulpit series, “The Radicals,” comes to its conclusion. It seems the right prayer for “this generation” called by God to spiritually conquer every continent and nation of this world for his kingdom.
So brood with me over the prayer—and let your heart be stirred by the intrepid Spirit of Christ himself, who is calling you and me to sail the seas on his behalf for this generation that desperately needs him.
The Prayer of Francis Drake
Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.
Disturb us, Lord, when
with the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.
Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wilder seas
Where storms will show Your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
We ask you to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push back the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.