Tokyo LIGHT Project – with Tomoko Sachs

Tomoko Sachs is the Director of City Renewal Ministry at Grace City Church, Tokyo. She is also the founder and Director of the LIGHT Project, a new Faith & Work ministry aimed at business & profession men & women in the world’s largest metropolitan area. The vision is to bring the light of Jesus Christ into Tokyo’s workplaces and thereby to all of Tokyo. Please come to hear Tomoko Sachs talk about the LIGHT project on Friday, August 25, 7-9 PM, at McLean Presbyterian Church.

Here is a video that describes her vision for the LIGHT Project:

Please come to hear Tomoko Sachs talk about the LIGHT project and how it is bringing the gospel to the workplace in Tokyo!

RSVP and further details are here: https://tokyo-light-project-introduction-by-tomoko-sachs.eventbrite.com

Why Japan?

Tokyo crowds
Japan looks good on the surface. Japan is rich, has very few poor people, and low unemployment. There is 100% literacy, health care for virtually everyone, a lower infant mortality rate than the U.S., and the longest life-expectancy in the world by a good bit. Everything works. Japan is clean, and service is great.

Wow! They must be happy.

Wrong! Japan also has the highest suicide rate in the industrialized world. A recent government study found that one in five workers are at risk of working themselves to death. It’s such a big problem that Japan even has its own word for it: karoshi (death by overwork). “Zero-defect” thinking and pursuit of perfection may be great for building cars, but it is terrible for families and human relationships. Beneath the surface, Japan is hurting deeply.

Japan’s greatest need is the gospel of of Jesus Christ. Less than 1% of the Japanese people are Christian, making the Japanese the world’s 2nd largest unreached people group. We long for Him to be worshiped in this great nation where so few worship Him. So few have ever even heard the gospel because they’re too busy working and too tired to pay attention. Marketplace discipleship is a strategy to bridge this gap.

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Why You’re Feeling Unfulfilled Despite ‘Success’

What's best nextOne of the things I struggle with is keeping organized and on track to accomplish my goals. I found a great book on this topic called “What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done”, by Matt Perman. Perman recently announced plans to launch an organization focused on helping Christians be more effective leaders, managers, and individual contributors.

Perman makes some great observations on why one can work with excellence and be greatly accomplished, but still feel unfulfilled (not an uncommon feeling these days).

WHY WE ARE SO OFTEN UNFULFILLED AT THE END OF THE DAY
The source of our lack of fulfillment is not just that the best of our intentions often get knocked away from us. The deeper reason is that we feel unfulfilled when there is a gap between what is most important to us (the realm of personal leadership) and what we are actually doing with our time (the realm of personal management). You are satisfied with your day when there is a match between what you value and how you spent your time. On the other hand, when what you actually work on and accomplish during the day is mostly different from what really matters to you, you feel unfulfilled. Not because you didn’t get much done — in many cases, you have — but because the things you were getting done weren’t the things that you value.

Perman goes on to note that Stephen Covey makes the case to base our values on objective principles that represent unchanging truth. But Perman says that it is not enough just set our values on principles, but to center our lives on God. He says:

The only way to find fulfillment and be productive in the ultimate sense is to center our entire lives — and therefore our productivity — on God. It is good to be principle-centered, but we need to go beyond being principle-centered to being God-centered.

He then explains the following reasons for why our principles need to be God-centered:

  1. God is foundational to true principles.
  2. God ultimately defines what the right things are to get done.
  3. God is “what matters most.”

…Perhaps the chief competitor to God-centeredness is simply making our own aims our center. This, then, leads us to be work-centered, or possession-centered, or pleasure-centered, or having any of those other centers. So it’s important to say that not only do we need to go beyond principle-centeredness to God-centeredness; we also need to avoid the trap of settling for any other center.

I’ve read a lot of other books about increasing personal productivity, but what’s different about What’s Best Next is that it builds a case for a God-centered, gospel-oriented perspective that focuses on the proper motivation to work with excellence — serving others, to the glory of God.

I’d highly recommend checking out what Matt Perman has to say.

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Greg Ogden: Making Disciples Like Jesus Did

Greg Ogden teaches us how to reproduce disciples in this 42 minute video:

Greg Ogden has recently “retired” or better yet “redeployed” (as of March, 2012) from professional church leadership. He now lives out his passion of speaking, teaching, and writing about the disciple-making mission of the church. Most recently Greg served as Executive Pastor of Discipleship at Christ Church of Oak Brook, IL. in the Chicago western suburbs. From 1998-2002, Greg held the position of Director of the Doctor of Ministry Program at Fuller Theological Seminary and Associate Professor of Lay Equipping and Discipleship. Prior to coming to Fuller, Greg enjoyed 24 years in pastoral ministry, primarily within Presbyterian churches, but most recently as Senior Pastor at the Saratoga Federated Church in the Silicon Valley, California.

Books By Greg Ogden:

  • Transforming Discipleship: Making Disciples a Few at a Time (InterVarsity Press, 2003) Ogden argues for an application of Jesus’ and Paul’s personal investment approach to making disciples by holding the relational model of groups of three or four (triads/quads) as the optimum environment in which disciples are made.
  • Discipleship Essentials: A Guide to Building Your Life in Christ (InterVarsity Press, 1998) Discipleship Essentials provides both structure and a curriculum to implement the triads and quads mentioned above. In twenty-four lessons centered around a core truth amplified through scripture memory, biblical study and contemporary reading, an engaging, thought-provoking and personal application makes for a lively interaction. The goal is accelerated transformation with a multiplying effect.
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Francis Chan – How Not To Make Disciples

Want to know how NOT to make disciples? In this humorous and insightful 2 minute video clip from the Verge Conference, Francis Chan begins to answer the question, “How can we make true disciples of Jesus?”

If you’d like some free tools to help you make disciples, check out CBMC’s Marketplace Ambassador Advancement System. This system is designed to equip and empower individuals to become effective ambassadors for Christ in the marketplace (a.k.a. Marketplace Ambassadors). It was developed because technology is changing the way individuals work and learn and today’s expectation is that relevant content will be delivered digitally on all platforms. – See more at: http://advance.cbmc.com/

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Admiral William McRaven’s May 2014 Commencement speech at the University of Texas

What does a 37-year veteran Navy Seal have to say to College graduates? A lot of life wisdom! Adm. McRaven is the commander of U.S. Special Operations and led Operation Neptune Spear, which resulted to the killing of Osama bin Laden.

Adm. McRaven’s conclusion:

To the graduating class of 2014, you are moments away from graduating. Moments away from beginning your journey through life. Moments away starting to change the world—for the better.
It will not be easy.
But, YOU are the class of 2014—the class that can affect the lives of 800 million people in the next century.
Start each day with a task completed.
Find someone to help you through life.
Respect everyone.
Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often, but if take you take some risks, step up when the times are toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden and never, ever give up–if you do these things, then next generation and the generations that follow will live in a world far better than the one we have today and— what started here will indeed have changed the world—for the better.

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Noah the Movie (Not the Russell Crowe version)

The story of Noah is much in the public view these days with the release of the Hollywood version staring Russel Crowe, which differs considerably from the biblical version. There is considerable evidence that the story of Noah is very ancient – versions exist in Sumerian and Assyrian legends. While these accounts differ considerably from the Biblical text, they demonstrate that the flood story was widely shared throughout the ancient world. Christians can debate about the extent of the flood (global or local), but we should not discount the historicity and veracity of the scripture account. Jesus believed in the Flood (Matt. 24:37–39), and so did Peter (1 Pet. 3:20) and the author of Hebrews (11:7)

But what does this mean to us now? Ray Comfort has produced a new documentary looking at the message of Noah in the Bible and how contemporary people view it. Check it out below – it’s only 30 minutes and you won’t be able to look away.

Warren Wirsbe in “With the Word” writes that the story of Noah tells us about God’s holiness as Judge of the world but also his loving grace towards those who trust God and obey His instructions:

  • The holiness of God: God saw a world of people who were inwardly corrupt, outwardly violent, and upwardly rebellious. Noah was the tenth generation from Adam. It didn’t take long for sin to spread in the human race. When the world is again as it was in Noah’s day, watch for the return of the Lord (Matt. 24:37–39).
  • The grace of God: Noah was saved just as any sinner is saved, by grace (Gen. 6:8), through faith (Heb. 11:7). See Eph. 2:8–9. He heard God’s Word, believed God’s promise of protection, and proved his faith by his works. There was only one way to be saved from destruction, and that was by entering the ark; and the ark had only one door. It is a picture of the salvation we have in Christ.”
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“Would you stay at a Bible-based hotel?” FoxNews Interview with Patrice Tsague

Patrice Tsague spoke with Fox News on his mission to spread ‘Biblical entrepreneurship‘ to aspiring business owners January 23. Patrice is the founder and Chief Servant Officer for Nehemiah Project International Ministries, Inc., a business development organization that provides high quality comprehensive and transformational biblical based entrepreneurship curriculum and support for small to medium size businesses around the world.

The Biblical Entrepreneurship Certificate Course is a three-part comprehensive business discipleship curriculum for Christian business owners and individuals desiring to start and operate a business based on biblical principles. It provides a strong mix of core business concepts and biblical principles. Courses are available in the Washington DC area. To learn more, see http://nehemiahproject.org/.

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iDisciple: New App from Family Christian Bookstores

Is it possible to have a business strategy that has one’s Christian faith at its core? A team of Christian business think they can make it happen. The Washington Times reports:

It all started when three Atlanta-based businessmen pooled their resources to purchase the Family Christian stores chain and turn it into a nonprofit. Mr. Kendrick along with Richard Jackson, founder and CEO of Jackson Healthcare, and Larry Powell, president of Powell Family Enterprises LLC, came together with a vision to create a new outlet to raise what Mr. Stillman calls “kingdom-based” profits.
“Each of these men have been blessed with professional success and share a mutual calling to give back to help those in need. This alignment of business acumen and Christian calling led them to the collective decision to join with us to acquire Family Christian and move it from an organization that contributes 10% of its profits, to one that contributes 100% of its profits to faith-based charities and ministries,” said Cliff Bartow, president and CEO of Family Christian in a statement released Nov. 15, 2012. By December, the company had become a nonprofit and had plans underway for new donation strategies.

The iDisciple App provides access to personalized content from top Christian leaders and includes a collection of thousands of sermons, devotionals, eBooks, articles, Bible studies, blogs, podcasts and even an in-app Bible. The business model for the app is a monthly subscription, but profits are donated to the charity of the user’s choice.

This may be the beginning of a new wave of Christian entrepreneurship in the media world. For too long Christian producers have been limited to what the mainstream media distribution channels would accept. Now the Internet is opening up independent channels of content distribution that can compete for viewers by offering wholesome content.

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” (Philippians 4:8 NASB)

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Update on relief efforts in Tohoku

Memorial to Bank employees in Minamisanriku

Memorial to Bank employees in Minamisanriku

Since the great earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, a number of organizations have been active in Northeast Japan (“Tohoku”): It’s Not Just Mud (INJM) in Ishinomaki and OGA for Aid in Minamisanriku. Both of these organizations are small, have a strong internationalist outlook and are managed by both foreign and Japanese directors. They have generated considerable public conversations about the future of this region in Tohoku. A recent Japan Times article “Volunteers staying the course in Tohoku”, written by Shaun O’Dwyer, a professor at Meiji University and the director of INJM, provides an update on their activities from an insider’s point of view. He notes:

I said before that hope remains, but it must be qualified. The tsunami has accelerated long-term demographic and economic trends in coastal Tohoku, including an aging population, the exodus of its youth and the shrinking of its agricultural and fisheries workforces.
Regarding Ishinomaki’s future, El-Banna told me that “the one thing it has going for it is its industries,” including fisheries. Minamisanriku’s situation is somewhat different. As Angela Ortiz put it, “It was so small and badly damaged — not just the infrastructure but the people themselves. It’s such a struggle.” But, she added, “There are a lot of determined locals we are working for.”

Last summer, I had the opportunity to bring a small team to visit Ishinomaki and Minamisanriku. Please see this blog article describing what we observed in the midst of great devastation. This update from those on the ground there makes me want to go back again. These volunteers are conducting a heroic effort to help the folks in that region regain something from what they lost.

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What is Christianity?

CE LogoChristianity is pretty simple. It’s all about one life, the life of Jesus, and how the life He gave offers us a connection to God. In this three-minute video Christianity Explored provides a simple overview of what it’s all about. Their webpage also provides links to answers for tough questions like:

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