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Hong Kong Kitchen!~!

Years ago, I mean really early in our marriage, The Good Wife and I went out to eat at a restaurant serving Chinese. At the time I was still a “meat and potatoes” kid not too far from Smalltown, USA with its nearby farm. Beef, mashed potatoes, or hamburgers and fries, or Midwest “normal food.”

I didn’t grow up eating Chinese, so oriental fare wasn’t on my list of culinary delights. Consequently, I wasn’t sure what I was doing in a foreign restaurant. Parochial, I know, but that was me.

This was also about the time other professionals began to invite me to various places for lunch or dinner as part of my work. Invariably I’d end up in some restaurant serving food I thought was suspicious at best. What could I order and eat if I didn’t like anything in the restaurant?

Then The Good Wife rescued me. When we went out to eat that time, someplace she wanted to go that made me uncomfortable—but of course I went to please her—she said, “You should identify one type of meal you like in each kind of restaurant. Then, if you get invited to that kind of restaurant you’ll always know there’s one thing you can order that you like and you’ll enjoy yourself.”

Man, why didn’t I think of that? But I didn’t. Which goes to show you why the Lord said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

Since that day long ago I have learned to like many different kinds of food. I even like Chinese. Though I am still not an adventurous eater, much less a “foody.”

But whatever, no matter where I go I know by now that there’s at least one type of meal in that restaurant that I can order, eat, and like.

This may not seem like much. But it protected me from something else I’ve seen: being inflexible and possibly rude in terms of food and eating.

I’ve been in groups where most people suggested going to a certain kind of restaurant, only to have one person announce they won’t go there—because they “don’t like” that restaurant or “won’t go in” that restaurant. To which I am tempted to say, “So what? What about all the others who want to go there?”

This is not a big deal and adults can generally handle the situation. But I’m still amazed sometimes when I hear people weigh-in with their exclusive preference, seemingly utterly oblivious of everyone else. Oh well, that’s their problem.

The Good Wife taught me how to avoid at least one potential and unnecessary problem in my life, for which I salute her. My manners and etiquette are the better for her advice.

Want to go out for Chinese?

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

Who doesn’t think the Japanese are an amazing people and culture? You have to hand it to them. Here’s a people whose history includes Hiroshima and Nagasaki and now Sendai and Fukushimaearthquake, tsunami. And with it has come missing persons, nuclear radiation, food and housing shortages, economic upheaval, not to mention destruction, devastation, disease, and death. Still, the Japanese soldier on.

“Ganbarimasu”—in Japanese it means “We must give it our best,” or something close to that. This word has become their quiet and dignified mantra. They work, they reach out, they don’t complain, and they don’t loot. They don’t loot? Amazing. Nuclear power plant workers have rightly become international heroes, a new set of first responders who are continuing to respond with long hours in what are likely suicidal conditions. These men do their duty, but they will not reach old age. Ganbarimasu.

The Japanese have always been known for the strength of their kinship culture. They are about community much more than the highly individualized and individualistic West. Sure, their culture isn’t perfect. There are some genuine concerns: issues like women’s place in family and society, underground sexuality, religious fatalism.

But the West has its problems too. Negatives shouldn’t cause us not to appreciate or admire positives. The Japanese are an industrious, frugal, incredibly hard working, educated, and honorable people. They’re proving it time and again in the face of crisis.

Ganbarimasu is something the West could stand to rediscover. Ours is a culture often captured by materialism, relativism, and narcissism. These aren’t good "Isms.” They weaken us individually and collectively. Certainly “The Greatest Generation,” ironically a generation that met the Japanese in World War, understood how to give it their best. But I don’t think subsequent generations, including the Baby Boomers to which I belong, can claim we’ve always given our best.

I wish the Japanese well. I pray for their culture, country, and individual characters. I hope they can cap the Fukushima nuclear radiation threat soon, and I hope they can rebuild with strength and optimism.

I wish and pray the same for the West in general and America specifically. I hope we learn by watching the Japanese. I hope we experience a resurrection of Ganbarimasu.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

Some people are born encouragers.  But the rest of us have to learn how to be encouraging to others. In the Bible, the word "encouragement" comes from a military term meaning "to strengthen, harden, or uplift." Encouragement means to meet people where they are and help them along to where they want to be or ought to be.

Usually we think of encouraging people who are "down." Friends who are experiencing some difficulty like financial pressures, interpersonal relationship problems, a mid-life crisis, or maybe family troubles. These kinds of problems are what the Apostle James called "divers temptations."

People need encouragement when they're going through tough times, but people also need encouragement when things are seemingly going very well. If you think not many people call or write when things are going poorly, just think how few call or write when everything appears to be on a roll.

The Book of Acts tells us about Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, who the apostles called "Barnabas," which means "Son of Encouragement." Later we read that Barnabas encouraged the Christians at Antioch, and he's described as "a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith" (Acts 11:24). Later still, when Paul and Barnabas have a disagreement, it's Barnabas who stands by the young Mark, who Paul thought spiritually weak but in whom Barnabas saw some good. Barnabas lived up to his name.

I’d like to develop my Barnabas-skills, and I’d encourage each of you to be a Barnabas. Give someone today what I call the "Barnabas Salute." That can be a call, a note, a pat on the back. You can salute people you know or even people you don't know who are standing for biblical ideals.

Giving people a Barnabas Salute is an encouragement to them. But guess what, it's an encouragement to you too.

 

"The Barnabas Salute," #109 from the Making a Difference program. Originally recorded April 25, 1994.

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow Dr. Rogers at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

 

 

September 11, 2001 is immortalized by infamy. Nine years later Americans still struggle with understanding and responding.

Toward continued healing, here are 9 things we should remember and 11 recommendations for moving ahead.

9 Remembrances

Every life matters. Each person who died (2,977 innocents, 19 suicidal perpetrators) is, like us, eternally important. God creates, individually bestows, and affirms life, not death.

Victims hailed from 90 countries. Loss of life is significant no matter who dies, but 9/11 was not just an American tragedy. It was a world tragedy.

First Responders died in the line of duty. In addition to civilian and military dead 343 fire-fighters, 60 police personnel, 15 EMTs, and a K-9 Dog named Sirius died as heroes. In ensuing years, as many as 900 are dead due to complications connected with their rescue work on 9/11. About 2,000 more were injured.

9/11 was a planned enemy attack. Despite conspiracy theories and 9/11 truth organizations claiming otherwise, to date there’s no credible evidence 9/11 was other than a terrorist suicide attack. 19 hijackers commandeering four jets for key targets was not a random act.

Evil exists. No amount of hope or general faith in the “goodness of human kind” can dispel the fact that evil is. It’s part of the human condition, and the challenge of dealing with it individually and socially will always be with us.

Nobility exists. Though evil had its day, human beings rose to the challenge in remarkable and admirable ways—the First Responders, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s leadership, citizen sacrifice and community, citizen service-qua-heroism.

People cared. Americans gave more than $1.4 billion and tens of thousands of units of blood toward 9/11relief.

God is in charge. He did not forget, go to sleep, or get surprised. He is sovereign, omniscient, and omnipotent.

Never forget. This phrase has become synonymous with 9/11 and rightly so.

11 Recommendations

Construct 9/11 Memorials as expressions of respect and remembrance. Memorials are recorded in Scripture and every nation and culture has developed means of honoring their dead. Most Civil War memorials were not erected until the 1880s-1920s, decades after the war. Passing time yields understanding, depth, perspective.

Clarify how we describe those responsible for 9/11. After 9 years American leaders in both parties still haven’t learned to define and identify who it is that threatens American security. We need to set aside political correctness, ignorance, and/or a foolish embrace of hoped-for visions of the enemy in favor of realistic ones.

Learn more about the Middle East. The Middle East is a region, not a nation-state. It includes North Africa and the Gulf States, involves 22 countries, 7 time zones, and 500+ million people. Spiritually and politically it is the most strategic region of the world.

Learn more about Islam. This is a complex religion practiced by more than 1.57 billion people worldwide and growing in influence. It’s not a simple creed but one nuanced by cultural and country-specific variations, ideological movements, and political agendas.

Honestly assess America’s actions and responsibility, but get over the fantasy of blaming all our problems on America. This is an approach oddly popular among a segment of the American citizenry, odd in the sense that the hand they bite is the one that feeds them.

If the American military is deployed, identify clearly stated objectives including an exit strategy, use levels of force required to execute the objectives, win, and get out. I’m convinced Americans are perennially more disturbed by the confusing way we’ve gone about fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan than they are the actual perceived need to fight.

Prepare for possible future attacks. This is responsible political, social, and as necessary military stewardship. Another attack is more probable than we want to admit, and we're not prepared. It seems so logical but not to those who don't really believe in human depravity and, consequently, believe talk and good intentions can solve all tensions.

In the face of fear, anxiety, and anger affecting our society be prepared to speak your faith. In 1 Peter 3:15 the Apostle reminded us to “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”

Recognize that life goes on. God gives us life and he wants us to live it. Building a future is not a disrespect of 9/11, and other travails have occurred that also require our ministrations.

Look for opportunity in the face of tragedy and its aftermath. This is a life-affirming thought rooted in a Christian worldview. If indeed God was in charge even on 9/11, and he was, than he’s in charge of how he can then-and-now enable us to turn tragedy to triumph. Sin has its moments but never ultimate victory if we look to the Lord to work through us.

Don’t claim insider knowledge about what God is doing. God is providentially engaged with human history, but we work with finite understanding and should take care to avoid comments detailing God’s every step (Romans 11:33-34).

On this day we did not forget.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow Dr. Rogers at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

 

On Facebook yesterday, I posted what I thought was a fairly tame, straightforward expression of biblical theology and a Christian spirit. Interestingly, the post elicited more comments than anything I’ve previously posted. Here’s the post:

“There is no Christian/biblical justification for burning the Quran, or any other religion's holy book. How do you share Jesus' love w/people you insult? The Sovereign God is not afraid of religion, rulers, or regimes, nor should his people.”

Most commentators agreed. But some expressed a desire to fight fire with fire, so to speak, defending not only Americans’ right to burn such books, but in this case, the rightness in doing so.

I cannot go there. In the same conversation stream I later posted:

“If we start burning, where does it stop? We can all name offensive, hateful, or erroneous materials. Should these all be burned? Historically, such tactics have never worked, even and especially-thankfully-against Christians and the Bible.”

Book-burning is an act of fear, ignorance, at times hysteria, and power. It accomplishes nothing but tangibly destroying the limited number of books available at the time.

On the flip side, it insults, incites anger, elicits reprisal, and may even drive people toward the religion represented in the burned holy books.

Acts 19:19 records an incident when converts from paganism burned their books on magic. This is not an example of the Apostles burning or ordering books burned. It’s an illustration of what the Spirit of God led new believers to do as an expression of their newfound faith in God. They no longer needed magic when they came to know the Lord of miracles. The point is, they freely chose to burn their own books.

In the end, it doesn’t matter what others have done or may have done. God will call them—and us—to account. In the meantime, God calls his own to a different Way.

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear,” (I John 4:18).

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow Dr. Rogers at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.