Category Archives: Life updates

Baptism of children, part 1

This is a post that assumes the Baptist position on baptism. If you are someone who has never understood why some traditions baptize infants, you should read up on that first. I don’t believe you have really understood baptism until you have first wrestled with whether or not you should sprinkle your newborn. Perhaps start here

In my circles, because we believe God commands believers to be baptized, we wrestle with when is the appropriate time to encourage our kids toward baptism. Often our children ask to be baptized, and we are left telling them, “not now.”

Mark Dever, who I consider a virtual mentor, is on record many times as teaching that we should not baptize young children. It is not that he does not think they could become Christians; he believes it is too difficult for the local church to discern real conversion in young children. He has also seen too many times people come to his church, having been “baptized” earlier in life, then realize they only now believe the gospel, and then having to “re”-baptize them.

I TOTALLY understand his concerns. We have members in our church who are extremely mature in the faith who basically have the same approach. But over the next few posts I want to walk through our decision to allow our 8 year old to get baptized last summer. She had just turned 8 at the time. She is the youngest person we have ever baptized at our church. And I am totally open to her not being the youngest ever.

I believe we should baptize believers of any age upon a credible profession of faith.

But because of where we are in church history, there are so many different factors to think through regarding this. But one thing I want to be clear from this first post: Baptists do not believe that only adults should be baptized. If you know a Baptist who speaks like that, they are speaking wrongly about the Baptist position. We do not believe only adults or older children should be baptized. We do not see a minimum age in the Bible. We believe only believers should be baptized, and that all believers should be baptized (Matthew 28.19). It is the implications of “only” and “all” that are very complex in our day and age, but it at least gives us a direction to walk towards. In the next post, let’s first think about some of the biblical data.

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Sabbatical reflections

A few reflections over the last three months:

  1. A pastor is truly on-call 24-7:   I have always known this, but this was the first time in eight years that I felt that weight lifted off, a weight that I personally did not realize was there until it wasn’t. This is not a complaint on my part. This is just a statement of reality. And it is why, though no church is mandated to do this, it is a good and kind thing for a church to grant periodic sabbaticals to pastors.
  2. Stay-at-home moms are so awesome:   For about two of the three months I was a stay-at-home dad, doing more of the cooking, picking up our younger daughter from school, helping our older daughter transition into college, and doing more cleaning than I normally do (which was still less cleaning than my wife does, and she just started back to work this school year!). Then for about two weeks I did some care taking for my dad. All in all, I did less than all our stay-at-home moms do at much lower quality, and I was drained. Thank God for these moms! (this is not to say anything negative about moms who work outside the home, just a note of encouragement towards those society often looks down upon)
  3. God is doing good things in other churches: we got to visit several churches over the sabbatical, and I am so thankful for the work of faithful preachers and Christians all over our island. The gospel is going forth on Oahu! There is basically a healthy local church in every corner of our island. Praise God!
  4. God is doing good things in our church- as I got to observe KBC at a little further “distance” than usual, I realize how blessed our church is. We have many faithful teachers, connections with other faithful teachers, our people love the Word, they love God, love each other, and are trying to grow in holiness more and more. Our church is Reformed, and constantly being reformed for God’s glory. Even something like our weekly Communion is something so refreshing each week (it stood out to me when we did not have communion at every church we visited; it felt incomplete). KBC is blessed by God!
  5. I love my church- Out of the 12 weeks, I believe we were away 6 of those weeks. It was good to visit other churches. And even the weeks I was there, it was a bit awkward for everyone (i.e., “should I talk to him? should I bother him?” etc.). Now, being “back back”, I am so thankful for the faith family God has given me.

Time to go prep for a sermon and do other pastoral things…

Sabbatical

My church has graciously granted me a 3 month (!) sabbatical. I am very grateful. Though that does not mean I should necessarily take a sabbatical from this blog, I am planning to do so. I have been trying to post twice a month for the last couple years, and it has been a blessing to be able to do so. But I will take a break from this blog until early October. I would appreciate your prayers for a fruitful time of rest

My first book!

Just to put this in context, it is very easy to publish books nowadays. This took two pastors in small churches to agree to work on this together (myself and Shane Sowers from Central Baptist Church, Oahu), and out came a book. Still, I am thankful God allowed me to do this, and pray He use it to sharpen churches for His glory.

If you know of Christians who are either wrestling with church polity issues or skeptical of either eldership or congregationalism, refer them to the ministry of 9Marks. They have lots of good articles and books on these issues. Only if they are still wrestling after that, or if they just want a quicker read, or just want to read a local Hawaii boy’s feeble attempt to weigh in on the conversation, then refer them to my book.

I did not put an Acknowledgements page and really wish I had after all. So I still might do it later, but for now, I want to acknowledge a few people:

Thank you to my wife, Natalie, and daughters, Grace and Leila, who are so supportive of me, and who let me work on stuff like this on top of all my pastoral duties. I love you, and thank you for letting me write, which is time away from you.

Thank you to Lauren Mell, a fellow church member, and Reid Honbo, one of my pastors, for proofreading. You really turned it into a book.

Thank you to Emily Komatsu, another fellow church member, for designing an impressive cover. God has truly gifted you, and you will probably be the main reason anybody buys the book.

Thank you to Shane Sowers (that other pastor I mentioned earlier), for countless hours of conversation, and for the work you put in to make this happen. May the Lord make your ministry “thrive”!

Thank you to John Tucker, another faithful pastor in the ministry, for giving valuable feedback and encouragement. Thankful for your friendship.

Thank you to my younger brother, Mark, for also giving valuable feedback, for being a constant encourager to write, and for being living proof of someone who can go from not knowing about these ideas to seeing them in the Bible and believing/obeying them.

Thank you to 9Marks, particularly Mark Dever and Jonathan Leeman, for influencing me more than any other parachurch ministry.

Thank you to Immanuel Baptist Church in Louisville, KY, for letting me experience these realities as a member of the flock.

Thank you to Kailua Baptist Church, for letting me experience these realities as one of your pastors. Related to that, thank you, Rocky, Reid, and Grant, for not just being my fellow pastors, but for actually being my pastors.

Driscoll, Repentance, Restoration

There is a good blog post from Barnabas Piper, son of John Piper, about the “fall from grace” of Mark Driscoll (HT: Chris Bruno). It is a great reminder for Christians to respond as those who have received grace upon grace.

In my few years as a pastor, I have heard of so many stories of pastors who have fallen from grace because of seasons of unrepentant sin. This reminds me of two things for my own life and ministry:

  1. God has had so much grace on me. If you knew me during my college years, you would have wondered if I was a Christian. If you knew all of my daily struggles and sins, you would wonder if I was a Christian. There is no one that thinks I am less deserving to be a pastor than me. How much more grace should I have on other pastors who fall from grace.
  2. Should the Lord ever allow me to fall into unrepentant sin, I pray my main hope will not be restoration to pastoral ministry. I hope I will not see forgiveness from the church only in the form of “you may preach to us again.” If I were to live my life in such a way that KBC removed me from office, I pray that God will grant me repentance and restoration to the Church. I hope that I will feel forgiven the moment the church allows me to take the Lord’s Supper with them again.

May the Lord forbid this from ever happening to any pastor ever again. But if situations like this arise, let us think in terms of restoration to the Body before anything else, and remember that restoration in our relationship with God and His people is better than restoration to any temporal office or status.

Leila Tess Morikawa

By God’s grace, we just completed our adoption of Leila and got back to Hawaii this past weekend! A quick recap:

  • We decided to pursue adoption in Ethiopia about three years ago
  • While waiting for a referral, we heard about Leila in China
  • We decided to pursue her in May 2012
  • We got through all the paperwork about one year later
  • We got to travel finally in Oct 2013
  • Met her on Oct 27
  • She stayed in our hotels with us for two weeks; bonded a lot!
  • She received her visa package on Nov 8
  • We hope to continue pursuing Ethiopia in the future

Leila’s Chinese name is Zhong Bao Er. She is four years old. She is learning English for the first time from us. She is super sweet and a lot of fun. Grace is excited to have a little sister finally. We pray to bring her up faithfully in the fear of the Lord.

I am pretty sure this is in front of the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou, Guandong, China:

I am a terrible personal evangelist

I am thankful for stories like Charles Spurgeon’s conversion (if nothing else read the two paragraphs surrounding the bold “LOOK UNTO ME, AND BE YE SAVED, ALL THE ENDS OF THE EARTH.”). It shows God saves through preaching that is not that great.

I hope God has mercy on my evangelistic efforts. First, as a preacher, though I have seen God convert through my preaching, and think I am gifted by God for the task, every week I say things in ways I immediately Sunday afternoon pray God will have mercy on.

Second, as  personal evangelist, I think I am bad. Not false humility– I am bad. I am shy to begin with. I let opportunities to make friends go by. I let opportunities to converse go by. I fear man often. I see opportunities to bring Jesus into discussions and I often let them go. Then, when God finally helps me get into conversations about the gospel, I mess up.

I believe God only uses the gospel to save souls. But, somehow I often get into debates, more than I proclaim good news. I just had a conversation today in which I know I shared gospel truth, but I know that person is coming away more mad at me than anything else. Maybe I was faithful and it is just persecution, but probably not. I pray for God to help me take more opportunities He gives me, help me to be more gospel-centered in my personal evangelism (imagine that!), and have mercy on that lady’s soul today and use that little gospel truth to save, despite my terrible evangelism.