Archive for March, 2011

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Happy birthday

It’s a rare pleasure that we get today to share Barnabas’s birthday with him and his family.

Happy birthday, Barnabas. Son #4. Son of encouragement.

I’m remembering the annual birthday poems Daddy wrote for you boys. Here’s one from 1989.

For Guess Who at Six

by Daddy

I know a brand new six year old.
When he was made they tossed the mold.
That means he’s just one of a kind.
Look high and low; you’ll never find
In all the world another lad
Who makes a more contented dad.
Who might this rare young fellow be?
I’ll give you clues, so you can see:

He talks a lot.  He even talks
When no one’s there to hear.  He walks
With courage through the battlefields
Of bedrooms, halls and stairs, and wields
His everpresent plastic sword
To slay the beast and evil lord
That lurks behind the rocking chair
And falls dead like a grizzly bear.

Sometimes a princess in distress,
With crimson cape and azure dress,
Must be delivered from the brute,
And this brave lad takes aim to shoot
The monster with a broken saw
While princess Krista stands in awe.

Sometimes his brothers think he’s cute,
With brown bowtie and little suit.
And then he tries hard not to smile;
He tries, but misses by a mile.

Sometimes you’ll find him with his back
Against a pillow, with a stack
Of Bible books, and on the tape
A story of some great escape
God gave to Joseph or to Paul;
And this young lad has learned them all.

I think, perhaps, that’s all you need
To guess his name, but one more lead:

He has a kind of pleasant roar;
We sometimes call him Number Four.
We’re glad that he is one of us:
His name?  You’re right.  It’s Barnabas.

Some things change. Some don’t. Talking. Courage. Slaying “beasts” for your princess (playmate Krista having given way to your love Lesley). And now there are two little princesses who pile onto the pillows with you to hear Bible stories of great escapes.

Happy birthday, dear Barnabas.

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Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Book winner and book recommendation

Follow-up: One reader, Marcia, tells us that Easter by Pienkowski can be seen and read online. Thank you so much, Marcia.


Two things are on my mind as I begin to write:

  1. I want to recommend a book I found yesterday.
  2. Yikes! I didn’t choose and announce the winner of the book giveaway from last week.

Turns out, the two become one. The winner of  is Joy Murray. In her comment she recommended:

Easter by Jan Pienkowski. We do love the illustrations for this book as well! We have always enjoyed this illustrated Bible over the years and somehow the old English of the KJ makes all the more beautiful. A family classic to treasure, although hard to find these days!

Coincidentally (God-incidentally), that’s the book I bought last night from a used-book shelf and planned to show you today.

It caught my eye right away because the illustrations are richly detailed silhouettes against evocative skies. This seemed to be one unique answer to Katie’s question in her comment: “Do you have any good Easter suggestions where Jesus is not white or at least very light? It seems many of the theologically good children’s bibles and story books have illustrations that would lead children to believe that Jesus and his disciples were white middle-class Americans and I am eager for a recommendation that would combine gospel-centeredness with less ethnocentric illustrations.”

Another thing I really like is that the text of the book is totally scripture–from Palm Sunday through to the resurrection. Some would love it because it is KJV. Others will instant-edit it into contemporary English as they read aloud to their children.

Unfortunately, Joy is correct. The book is out of print and hard to find. So keep your eyes peeled at your favorite used-book shops.

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Saturday, March 26th, 2011

Letters from Japan

Wednesday, 23 March 2011
from my cousin on Kyushu, an island in the southwest part of the Japanese archipelago

Dear friends and family,

When I came back to Japan on March 7th I had no idea that four days later the tragic earthquake and subsequent tsunami would be devastating this country. . . .

For the last week and a half I have prayed and asked God what I could do to help the people in the prefectures north of Fukuoka who suffered so much.

Down here on the island of Kyushu we have experienced only economic repercussions to the quake, not the severe damage and tragic loss of life seen in Fukushima and Sendia and other prefectures in that area. . . .

Pioneers International have some Missionaries here in Fukuoka city who are leaving tomorrow to transport food and supplies provided by . . . Samaritan’s Purse to Sendai. . . . I thank God for this wonderful opportunity to help. . . .

Gas is a growing rare commodity in most of northern Japan. We will be driving up to Tokyo tomorrow and there load up supplies to further deliver into Sendai. Once we arrive in Sendai we will stay for two weeks to help at shelters and perhaps with the clean up if we are allowed. . . .

Daniel Moore


Thursday, 24  March 2011
from my long-time friend in Tokyo

Today, I went to the headquarters of the Christian Relief Assistants Support and Hope (CRASH Japan). . . . A housing coordinator “happened” to mention to me that a group is coming here from Fukuoka to help Samaritan’s Purse. So . . . I went . . . to look for the group. . . . [Daniel Moore and I] have been Facebook friends for awhile, so we could recognize each other right away.

When I heard his story about coming back to Japan this time, I was almost going to cry because I felt very strong God’s presence and leading.  What a gracious God we have! I was very impressed by Daniel’s steady spirit and disposition.  It seems like he has been obeying His calling all the way. [I was able to prepare] some love offering toward his personal needs during his time up North.

All the supplies by SP came to the land of Japan via US military air base (Yokota) which is about 30 min. away from us. Some of the volunteers put the supplies on trucks. and the goods are sitting in the city called Hitachi, Ibaragi. In 24 hours, Daniel and his team (merging with a team from Beijing) will go to Hitachi city to get the goods and go to the northeast where nobody has gone yet with the supplies. . . .

Daniel asked me if I know the situation in Hitachi. It is much closer to where the nuclear plants are, but I heard from a girl whose parents are living there saying they are in much better shape than we are in terms of groceries and gasoline supplies. I don’t know the situation way up north, but I assume that this team will be sort of a front line group to find out where the evacuees are.

Thank you for your prayers and love.

Chieko [Reasoner]


Friday, 25 March 2011
a 2nd email from Chieko

I have more news . . . since last night.

Yesterday, our missionary friend by the name of Ralph Jastiniano and his assessment team found 9000 evacuees whose supplies are very low. Ralph has communicated with the head office that Samaritan’s Purse teams and US Marines are going to distribute tons of supplies to those people. [Perhaps] Daniel and the Fukuoka/Beijing team will be the one to work with the Marines.

In Tokyo, it has been very cold these days, more so in NE Japan. This is my “mother’s heart” that the team members will be protected from getting sick. . . .

This week, some other items in super markets have come back, but the water bottle shelves are just empty around here.  It has rained and the radiation rates in our tap water has raised much higher this week.

Thanks again for your love and prayers!


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Thursday, March 24th, 2011

Betraying Jesus with a kiss

One of the facts of getting older is that the children in your life get older too. One of the great pleasures is when your roles are reversed and you find yourself being taught good things by by those grown-up children.

I’ve sent you before to the wisdom of my niece Sunny. She blogs at Daydreams and Dandelions.

I resonated with her comment at my post a couple of days ago. She recommends one book for toddlers for Easter and pans another because it omits entirely the crucifixion. Everything in the Bible is about the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, but in the past we too have had had Bible story books like the one she mentions–great illustrations, well-told stories, but the main point omitted–a book without a climax.

Sunny wrote:

I heard a Spurgeon quote that reminds me of many children’s Bibles.

“To tell about Jesus without the cross is to betray him with a kiss.”

I thank God for a niece who knows what’s what . . . and who quotes Spurgeon.

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Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

Easter–books for our youngest ones

Thank you so much for your children’s book suggestions for Easter. Keep them coming. If you comment at that post, you’ll have a chance to win a book.

Here are some ideas for toddlers. Some are about Easter and others are stories that help to understand the concepts of repentance, forgiveness, and redemption.

The first two are big Bible story books that are more than just collections of stories a child ought to know. From the beginning, they are pointing to God’s “big picture.”

The Big Picture Story Bible


by David Helm

illustrator, Gail Schoonmaker

Little Hands Story Bible


by Carine Mackenzie

Little Hands Life of Jesus


by Carine Mackenzie

Baby’s First Easter

(board book)

by Emily Tuttle

illustrator, Moira MacLean

I Can Say to God I’m Sorry

(board book)

by Catherine Mackenzie

The Runaway Son

(board book)

by Carine Mackenzie

illustrator, Michel de Boer

God Creates New Life in Me


by Catherine Mackenzie

illustrator, Rebecca Elliott

The Missing Sheep

(board book)

by Carine MacKenzie

illustrator, Michel de Boer


If you have one or more of these, please  let us know what you and your child think.

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Monday, March 21st, 2011

Help! Books for Easter

When our children were small, we pulled out all their books that were related to Easter and put them in basket, which we put near our reading place in the living room. This meant that when we sat down to read together, the Easter books were easy to lay our hands on.

When I’m looking for Easter stories for children, these are important factors:

  • A Bible story told without added details or characters
  • Presentation of God as the central character
  • Appropriate respect given to the Word of God
  • None of the fairy tale additions that might be fun, but are not part of the real story

By now, many of the books we enjoyed are out of print and unavailable, so there’s not much use in my recommending them. I hope to do some bookstore searching and let you know what I find.

But let’s take advantage of our community here. Many of you know lots more than I do about what’s good out there now. Please comment here with the books you use with the children in your life to help them understand the crucifixion and resurrection, both the facts and what God was doing. Also, please tell us the appropriate age range.

In return, I’ll choose randomly one of the commenters to receive a copy of  The Christian Focus Story Bible by Carine Mackenzie. (I should let you know up front that although the book is new, the lower corner of the back cover is a bit torn.)

I welcome your recommendations any time, but to be eligible for the book drawing, please respond no later than midnight CST, this Thursday, 3/24.

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Sunday, March 20th, 2011

“Christians in Egypt face old discrimination”

I posted photos and wrote about Mokattam Village in Cairo last year when we visited there. That area of Cairo is the home of the highest concentration of Christians in the country. Mokattam is familiarly known as “the garbage village,” and its primary economy is the collection and recycling of the city’s refuse. But even Christians who work elsewhere choose to live in Mokattam because of the influence of the church in this neighborhood.

Last week, I could see in my mind the streets and churches and people of Mokattam when I read an email and a then heard a news report.

National Public Radio:
In New Egypt, Christians Face Old Discrimination
Headline, Steve Inskeep on National Public Radio.

Email from Egyptian friend who has ministered 28 years in Mukattam:
We need prayer—big time!  Already 10 have died, many are seriously injured, and 8 houses and several factories have been burned!

The torching of [a] church recently was part of a series of incidents. . . . People from a largely Christian neighborhood staged a demonstration. Muslims confronted them. Soldiers appeared, and someone opened fire.

Email from friend:
Yesterday some of the youth from the Village wanted to show their solidarity with the people of the Coptic church that was burned down last week on the outskirts of Cairo.  (Many homes and small shops were also burned down by the Muslims in that village.)  So they unwisely went down to the highway below the Village where they had a demonstration . . . .

Suddenly, about 4:00 P.M., large groups of Muslim youths from surrounding areas began to form and attack the Christians.  Within hours there were many thousands in the fight, and the attackers had all kinds of weapons, whereas the Village youth mostly had stones.  Although the army sent in several tanks, they apparently did nothing until later in the evening, when they are reported by eye witnesses to have shot in the air indiscriminately. . . .

Although over 130 people were injured, most through gun shots and some very seriously, no ambulances or fire engines arrived at the Village until early the next morning. Our 2, rather primitive hospitals up there did there best to treat the wounded and many people are now in the city hospitals.  So far, 10 have died, 9 of them young Christians and 1 a Muslim who lives at the Village and was defending his home there.

A memorial service was held Thursday for many of the Christian dead. A Coptic priest spoke to a crowd of thousands, including the families of many victims.

“The pains of this life,” he told the families, “are nothing compared to the glorious state we will be in in the afterlife.”

The priest was speaking in a room that symbolizes Egypt’s Christian minority. It was vast -– and it was underground.

It’s a hillside cave that has been turned into a meeting hall, with relief sculptures of saints carved on the walls.

Email from friend:
We need prayer, dear friends—lots of lots of it!  We hate to see our beloved country collapsing like this, people going hungry, and Christians possibly becoming scapegoats for all ills.  We need the world-wide body of believers to bring these problems to our sovereign, powerful and loving Lord.

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Friday, March 18th, 2011


Yesterday I offered a way to combine worship and practical help to Japan. CRASH is the organization your help will be channeled through.

So my eye was caught this morning by a word from  Tom and Mary Lou Ellison, missionaries to Japan supported by our church. They affirm the ministry of CRASH and remind us of the need for supplies and prayer.

We visited the CRASH volunteer office today and it was great to see a whole room full of people here working to prepare for teams coming in from the States and elsewhere who will be engaged in the disaster area. Tomorrow will be one week since the initial earthquake and tsunami and supplies on site are still very low. Today seems to have been a better day, though, with an increase of help flowing to the area. The radiation issue however is complicating the efforts.

It’s been a week. Other events are top news now. But for those who live in Japan?

photo from Reuters

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Thursday, March 17th, 2011

I will not be shaken–music for relief in Japan

A couple of weeks ago, I scratched a note to myself during the weekend service. It was a reminder to download  “I Will Not Be Shaken” (by Tommy Walker) into my “Fav Worship” playlist.

Today I came across the reminder and went searching online for the song. I discovered it not only in English as I expected, but also in Japanese.

I don’t remember now why the song touched me so much when I wrote the note. But today it became a prayer for my brothers and sisters in Japan.

Oh Lord, may your children in Japan be able to say with a strong heart,

So I’ll stand and trust
I’ll stand in faith
I will not be shaken

Our God will not be moved
Our God will never change
Our God will reign forevermore

For a long time to come, I think this song will turn my heart to pray for Japan, where the Gospel is so desperately needed–even before the earthquake and tsunami.

Maybe you too?

Here’s a way to combine our worship with tangible help for Japan.

Like many bloggers, I get a small percentage of every purchase that a reader links to from my website. I promise you that every penny I receive from any purchases of Tommy Walker music will go to Japan for relief.

“I Will Not Be Shaken” is on Walker’s album entitled Overflow. The album is available to download in Japanese or English. The CD of Overflow is also in Japanese or English.

This opportunity for generosity applies to your purchase of any of his music from that you make when you go to Amazon through any of the links here.

I will send your donations to CRASH (Christian Relief, Assistance, Support and Hope). CRASH aims to equip Christians in Japan to be ready when disaster strikes to show the love of Jesus in practical and effective ways, and is endorsed by JEMA (the Japan Evangelical Missionary Association) and works in cooperation with the Disaster Relief Commission of the Japan Evangelical Association.

So your purchases will help Japanese Christians be the hands and face of Jesus to their fellow countrymen and -women.

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Sunday, March 13th, 2011

Noel’s Energy Bars

We’re almost halfway through the month of March. If you’re in the Twin Cities area, don’t miss out on the offer of half-price personal training sessions at Lions Gym. Last day of March is the deadline for making your appointment.


Friends keep telling me that after a while I’ll actually miss it when I don’t go to the gym–I’ll want to go. Why do I feel sceptical? Oh I remember. It’s because my normal, inert, sedentary self is dragging every morning when it’s time to go.

It’s even worse on an empty stomach–I can’t make it through an hour of working out. These energy bars are our (cheap) solution to the need for something easy and energy-inducing before workouts.

Noël’s Energy Bars

In blender:

1 cup oats
½ cup shelled, unsalted sunflower seeds
½ c raw, unsalted almonds
½ cup wheat germ
¼ cup whole wheat flour OR soy flour OR other whole grain flour
½ cup non-fat milk powder
½ – 1 tsp cinnamon

Blend till fine.

Add 1/2 cup dried apricots
1/2 c raisins OR dried blueberries
1/2 cup dried, pitted, dates

Blend til fruits are as chunky or unchunky as you like.

Pour into mixing bowl. Add:
2 large eggs
1/3 cup real maple syrup OR molasses OR honey

Mix well by hand or with a strong-motored mixer.

9 x 13 pan coated with  non-stick spray.

Press mixture evenly into pan. Use wooden spatula dipped in water to avoid stickiness while pressing it in. Re-wet as needed.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Cut into 16 evenly-sized pieces. Store in airtight container or zip-closed bag in fridge.


1. Other dried fruits may be substituted in same quantity for any of those listed in recipe. Same with nuts.

2. There is no “right” order or procedure of combining the ingredients. Depends on the  preferences of the cook and the strength of the blender and mixer.

Nutrition info:
(varies slightly with various ingredient options)

Serving size: 1 piece (1/16 of whole recipe)
Calories 166
Total fat 6.25 grams
Saturated fat .75 gram
Protein 6.25 grams
Carbs 25 grams
Fiber 3/1 grams

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Friday, March 11th, 2011


Congratulations to the twenty winners who have been chosen randomly to receive a copy of Lenten Lights. I’ve just sent an email to each of you. (Be sure to check your junk file too, just in case your email program doesn’t recognize quality when it sees it.)

Lenten Lights can be ordered or you may read it free online.

This Sunday, day after tomorrow, is the day you might choose to use the first reading from Lenten Lights.

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Thursday, March 10th, 2011

But do Baptists do Lent?

In the church calendar of more liturgical traditions, Lent is the name of the 40 days before Easter. It begins with Ash Wednesday. Why “ash”? Think of sackcloth and ashes–grief over our sins that led to Jesus’ death. And it ends with the glorious celebration of Jesus’ resurrection–life.

In response to my previous couple of posts about the beginning of Lent, I see 4 sorts of comments:

  1. I grew up in a church that observed Lent, but I left that behind because it seemed more  like just going through motions for the sake of tradition.
  2. I grew up in a church that observed Lent and I met Jesus there, so Lent is a special time for me.
  3. We don’t think so much about the word Lent, but here are things that we do to help us prepare our hearts for celebrating Easter.
  4. I’ve never really heard of Lent before. What am I supposed to be doing?

It’s not at all important whether we name this particular 40 days Lent. It’s not important whether we think in terms of a church calendar. There aren’t certain specified activities that must be done. Whatever we do or don’t do and whether or not we give a name to the season, at the end of 40 days, it will be Easter, the most important day of the year for a Christian. Will it sneak up on us, or will we have prepared our hearts?

We reveal to ourselves and others what is important to us by the way we celebrate. Is the season before Easter mainly a hassle to get to the mall and a strain on the budget purchasing clothes, candy, cards, and groceries for a big dinner? Or is it several days or weeks of considering God’s work in our lives through Jesus, along with special activities to help us think about Jesus’death and resurrection?

[Adapted from Treasuring God in Our Traditions]

Reminder: Midnight tonight is the deadline for the giveaway of 20 copies of Lenten Lights.

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