August 4, 2021
Mary, the mother of the Lord, was a special woman. Yet, surprisingly little is recorded about her. She is famous, of course. Yet, she is in various ways also little known. Why?
For a unique interesting study of Mary and Luke chapter one, see the Luke Describe-It-Yourself page. The summary chart below is explained there. -- I plan to speak on Luke 1:26-56 next Sunday, and this chart was made as part of my preparation.
August 2, 2021
Today, my retired truck-driver friend, Mr. Y., called as he often does, and we had a good Bible study for about 30 minutes. Since he lives far from us, in Yamaguchi City and there are no good churches in his city, our online studies and fellowship are a blessing. They are for me, as well.
Mitsy says I look much different now since I have lost over 30 pounds this year. I look older too, however.
August 2, 2021
How was Martha's complaint in Luke 10:40 sinful? Which of the many negatives on the summary chart below answer this question best? For more on this and a unique interesting way to study sin, see the Luke Describe-It-Yourself page. The summary chart below is a new improved one that was added today.
An improved summary chart was added for the great catch study as well.
July 31, 2021
The summary chart below was added to the Luke page today. This was part of my preparation for the message at the Noto church tomorrow. Several of the terms and phrases in the chart are explained on the Luke page. It's a great study. Please check it out. -- Of course, I will not speak on all 38 points tomorrow, but this chart helps ME see "the big picture" and the main points more clearly.
July 27, 2021
How was Jesus' teaching on the Emma's Road PASTORAL, PERSONAL, and PERSUASIVE? For answers and to see how to play a new, fun, educational game, go to the new Luke D.I.Y. page which was begun yesterday.
July 26, 2021
How was the great catch in Luke 5:1-11 ASTONISHING, ABOUT BEING INADEQUATE, FAR-REACHING, etc.? For answers and to see how to play this new, fun, educational game, go to the new Luke D.I.Y. page which was begun today.
July 17, 2021
Today, I did a Describe-It-Yourself study on the lament in 2 Samuel 1:17-27. The main summary charts for the study is shown below. One key observation is that God is never directly mentioned in the lament. Why not? Another key observation is that David wrote positively about Saul. How and why did he do so? Was he sincere or just being diplomatic?
July 15, 2021
Tonight, I made a short (11 minute, 30 second) video message on 1 John 1:9 in which I demonstrated how I use the Describe-It-Yourself cards for personal study. It is a great message, AND it helps show what a truly wonderful tool the D.I.Y. card set is. Earlier still photos / graphics did not do the set justice.
A new and more flexible mini tripod made this video possible. For the first time, I was able to easily and quickly set the webcam at an inclined angle to view things (the file box and cards) on my desk!
July 14, 2021
Today, I compiled a set of P-term cards to be used in describing Philippians 4:13, that famous verse in which Paul said that he was able to do all things through Christ who strengthened him.
PLEASE go to the Philippians page for the full study! It may be one of the best we have ever made. It is encouraging and easy to understand and use with others.
July 11, 2021
Tonight, during my devotional time, I used erasable pens to write out concise descriptive notes on loving, spiritual harmony in Christ as taught in Philippians 2:1-11. Since this was not a full-scale study, I did it all on a small card. (The adjectives used on the card are from our Describe-It-Yourself set.) Since I often change my mind and think of new or better terms to use, erasable pens are a great help. This is a wonderful Bible study and devotional method. My penmanship is not so wonderful, however. So I used a printer to make a neater card for this photo.
PLEASE check out FriXion Pens. They are made by Pilot here in Japan. In the U.S., you will find some at Staples. There is a far greater variety available here. I use various color FriXion pens in the early stages of message and Bible study preparation almost everyday and would be lost without them. (Caution: never use one for a legal document.)
July 8-22, 2021
I have been upgrading the Describe-It-Yourself cards set for weeks, so that there are about 800 cards today (July 22th). The CARL paper cutter shown beside me works great, and I am blessed THINKING — about various Bible passages — AS THE CARD ARE CUT. It was super thought provoking!
You probably never thought of an ordinary paper cutter as a super Bible study tool, but it sure can be! Click this small button for a quick look at the list of 800 cards.
June 29, 2021
Yesterday, we helped out at the Japan Baptist Bible College graduation. Mitsy was in charge of premaking many boxes of take-home sweets. YUM! Together, we were in charge of periodic ventilation (two side-doors) during the program. COOL! Last but not least, we were in charge of administering disinfectant spray. A BIT SLIMY, BUT NECESSARY!
So what? Well, it shows that ministry can go from sweet and cool to somewhat slimy, all in one day. 😀 Yet, it is all a blessing.
How would you describe the Commander of the army of the Lord? He only appears briefly in three verses, in Josh. 5:13-15. Yet he did several foundational things in these few verses. Therefore most of the descriptive terms and phrases in the summary diagram below are verbal rather than adjectival. The Commander came to take charge or to show that he, rather than Joshua, was in charge of the battle of Jericho and by implication of all the other struggles that followed.
June 22, 2021
The three key aspects of Elisha's ministry are summarized using Describe-It-Yourself cards. For an explanation of the three carefully chosen points, see the study near the bottom of the Elisha page.
June 20, 2021
As Pastor Saito spoke at the Kanazawa church this morning, I listened carefully for the various points and selected cards one-by-one from the Describe It Yourself set and put them in my shirt pocket. After the meeting, four of us got together at a table and used these selected cards to review and apply the message. It helped us SEE the main point of the passage (2 Chronicles chapter 29) much better. Now we have ANOTHER great way to use this wonderful set!
ELISHA SUMMARY CHART -- just finished!The four key aspects of Elisha's ministry are precisely summarized using Describe-It-Yourself cards. For a short explanation of the four carefully chosen points, please see the final study on the Elisha page
June 16, 2021
Today, a new page was added to the website for studies in the book of Revelation. For now, there are only three studies on this page, but more will probably be added later. Two of the studies are descriptive ones which make use of the new Describe It Yourself set of cards and were recently featured on the QuickStop Devotionals page.
June 15, 2021
No, it is not my birthday! June 15th is tax day for Americans overseas. So I was happy to be on my way to the postoffice to airmail the form to the U.S. We will get a small refund, but I am always VERY happy to finish the paper work for another year.
And speaking of small(er), I have lost 33 pounds (15 kgs.) in six months, mostly by only eating twice a day. Now at only 5' - 6" tall / short and 156 lbs. (71 kg.) I still am a little over, but it is difficult now to lose more.
June 10, 2021
In addition to tons of work around the house, Mitsy has been speaking to small ladies' meetings, translating Bible study materials, and preparing take-home gifts (snacks) for about 150 people expected at the Japan Baptist Bible College graduation at the end of the month. This year there are six graduates. So a large hall has been rented to help with social distancing.
In addition to speaking in churches in-person about twice a month and on line twice a week, I have made three short videos that go with studies in 2 Peter 1:5-7. For now, these are on the QuickStop Devotionals page. When the set of seven or eight is finished, they will be linked to the Second Peter page.
The second big project in recent days has been using and improving our 800 Describes-It-Yourself cards. (This new set is fantastic!) Some of this has appeared on the QuickStop Devotionals page. Yesterday and today, I worked on two passages in Romans, which are now attached to the website's Romans page.
There has been good coordination of new materials production for the website and use around the world with local ministry here in Japan.
June 10, 2021
A few hours ago, an anonymous user near London printed out 17 studies on Lesser-Known Women in Bible. This is exciting because it shows that someone is serious about Bible studies. Also today, we heard from friends in northern Japan that a new Bible study has begun there using the same set.
How about getting copies of this great material and begin a new Bible study in your part of the world? Just click the link below.
May 31, 2021
A month ago, on Friday, April 30th (Japan time), someone in Downers Grove, Illinois where Inter-Varsity Press is located downloaded four files including those of our studies on women in the Bible. (A few days earlier, I posted some information about these files on Facebook.) I suspect these file downloads were done by someone at Inter-Varsity Press because Downers Grove is not that big a place and because the pages in which interest was shown fit Inter-Varsity interests. (Also incidentally, at about the same time, there was an usual out-of-the-blue "friends request" from a lady we do not know.)
If this likely indirect connection with Inter-Varsity helps get God's word out to more people, that would be wonderful. If it leads to distortion and misuse of our material by an evangelical publisher that would not be a good thing. So this is mentioned here for two reasons. 1.) We are praying that our material will be discovered by Christian publishers, especially more conservative ones, and gain broader distribution and usage thereby. 2.) It may be helpful to have a record of this "contact" shown here in case we later discover that some of our material is being used for commercial purposes without our permission.
May 27, 2021
Today, I finished the 22nd of 22 studies in Psalm 119, the one on verses 169-176. Click the link below to go to the page. The new material is always added at the bottom, following the order of the Psalm itself.
May 25, 2021
Going through the Describe-It-Yourself cards during message preparation was a great blessing. I spoke on Psalm 119:137-144 which shows believers how to deal with the unrighteous. Jesus is not mentioned by name, of course, but the passage and the Bible as a whole reveal the need for God's righteous rule. This points to HIM. Also, my passage, like Rom. 3:23, shows that only God is righteous, a key gospel point. These two little cards helped me think about these great truths. The Describe-It-Yourself cards are a great tool and can be used to describe various passages, not just those with questions.
May 4, 2021
For the past two days, I have been working on Studies in Job, especially updating the Summary Chart of Questions asked in Job shown below. Though this may look difficult to understand at first, there are many things that can be done with it. These will be added to the JOB page soon. There is a more readable and printable pdf printout available on that page now.
April 29, 2021
Today, I discovered "Canva" which is a great source of Appalachian Trail photos to use with the 22 Psalm 119 devotionals. Seventeen years ago I used rough sketches with these studies, but from today I have many photos to choose from for backgrounds, like in the graphic below which goes with the study on verses 41-48. What an improvement! The devotionals look so much better with appropriate graphics! Ten of the 22 are now complete.
April 21-22, 2021
Tonight, the Psalm 119 page was greatly improved and two games were added. These games should be great to use in youth meetings. Ordinarily, Psalm 119 is difficult to teach because it is so long. Now, however, using the trail like diagram below and the two new games it can be done in interactive and fun ways. Yet, the foundational truth of living by the Word will still be taught.
April 16, 2021
Today, "Dan" (his pen name) in Brazil joined our Friday online Bible study for the first time. He is the brother of Chiharu who is a member of our church here in Japan. It was a wonderful study, with various ones sharing insights on Matthew chapter three and what we can learn for John the Baptist regarding our testimony for Christ today. The study was mostly in simple English with some Japanese and Portuguese added in as well. It was a fantastic blessing! (8 pm in Japan is 8 am in eastern Brazil.)
April 15, 2021
Today, I used the Snappa app. a new way, to make a newsletter. Those of you with a desktop, laptop, or tablet should be able to read it ok. Smart phone? Those with translation software will be stuck with the English since it it a graphic. Sorry.
April 14, 2021
This new poster which I made with the Snappa program today was used during our online Japanese Bible study this evening. Tonight we discussed the various verbs involved in God communicating to people. What verbs can you think of? -- See today's devotional for more on this.
April 8, 2021
The cherry trees near our house (shown) are now in full bloom. We can measure a year by the blossoms return, and It was exactly a year ago, in the midst of COVID lockdowns, that we started working on the software and study material for the website. It first bloomed in a multi-lingual way yesterday!
The trees are beautiful, but we are also thankful for our high speed internet connection via optical cable. The cable along with the power line do not show up well in this photo, but they allows our Bible studies and devotionals to now show up around the world. Thank you, Lord, for having the town supply this great internet connection for a very low price.
April 5, 2021
Today, we began using a company (Weglot) to quickly put many of the website pages into Japanese, Spanish, and Brazilian Portuguese. The work is done by translation software. So quality is lacking in various ways, but it was done quickly and is far better than nothing.
In addition, Luis, a medical doctor in our church who is originally from Nicaragua, translated yesterday's Luke 24 devotional into Spanish for the website. Some of his friends in Central America use the site some. His wife, Chiharu, who is of Japanese decent but grew up in Brazil also has family members who try to use the website. Even having it in far-from-perfect Portuguese and Japanese will help them.
April 1, 2021
It has been great to visit with Amy and family this week. Our year old granddaughter (in photo) and nearly four year old grandson (hiding in back of the table) are a lot bigger than last time. This photo shows cherry blossoms at a Mount Fuji area lake, about an hour away from Pastor Ken & Amy's home / church. (I will be going home to the other side of Japan today, but Mitsy will be staying at Amy's for a few more days.)
March 28, 2021
Yesterday, I finished updating the GOD's VIP's booklet which contains five ranked lists, including one of the Top 60 Women in the Bible. This is a great addition to the website. The updating and checking took a few days of work, but it should be worth it.
March 21, 2021
Each day last week my hip and leg pain became less and less. So I am doing MUCH better now than when the problem -- which is apparently caused by a disk in my lower back -- suddenly surfaced during a walk last Sunday. The specialist on Tuesday wanted to give me some medication for the pain, but good progress has been made little-by-little without it. I'm not back to normal yet, but I was able to walk for about 15 minutes outside in the flat parking lot yesterday.
Maybe by the end of this week I will be fully recovered. I have a children's meeting in Fukui on Thursday. Getting there should be no problem, since I am now able to drive again. Keeping up with eight to ten lively children will require a bit more agility however.
March 17, 2021
A disk in my lower back has been somewhat out of place for decades and occasionally has caused problems. Well, it became a big problem during a walk late Sunday (3/14) afternoon. It caused pain in my right hip which was so bad that I was hardly able to walk at all. So I saw a specialist yesterday, and he confirmed that it was not a hip joint problem - despite the location of the pain - but came from that one disk. Rest seems to help considerable, and I have felt much better each morning, though it continues to flare up during the day. It seems to be improving. So I hope to be back to normal by the end of the week.
March 5, 2021
This evening, as part of message preparation for Sunday, I used Accordance ® to search out which Bible books have the highest count for the common prayer terms, both nouns and verbs. Psalms comes in first, especially if terms like "praise" and "give thanks" are included. If petitions and asking God for help or guidance is the main focus, then Acts comes to the forefront, as I expected it would. (My message for Sunday is on Acts 1:1-14 in which prayer is mentioned (1:14) will be one my four main points.)
Praying in the sense of making petitions is also prominent in Daniel and some of Paul's letters (Philippians, Colossians, Ephesians, etc.) but not in some others (Galatians in particular).
I wrote about some of these search results on today's QuickStop Devotionals page.
March 1, 2021
Word of Life Serbian missionary, Darko Vika, just wrote to us saying, "Thank you very much for offering all this [toaministries.com] materials to us. . . . We will use some . . . for sure! . . . We do our ministry in the Serbian language but will translate your material and use it to reach youth and help them grow in knowing Jesus! The map below shows Serbia and the Vika's location relative to Austria and Romania, all of which are north of Greece.
You can check out the Vika's on the Word of Life Fellowship's missionary giving page. https://give.wol.org/dvika. They are doing a great work in Serbian churches, Bible clubs, and camps during the summer, but they are about 33% under supported.
February 26, 2021
Users of our new website are most numerous in the U.S. at 183 thanks largely to homeschoolers, and New Zealand is #3 at 25 for the same reason. Japan is #2 at 41, including only one or two home schools at most. Australia, #5 at 15, is gaining fast thanks to "distance education," but homeschooling in Canada, #4 at 20, seems a bit weak. (?) Christian schools are numerous in some African countries (10 users), and there are many in some U.S. states, but not in others.
Sometimes it is good to look at the world differently. This world map is from a New Zealander perspective. By the way, we don't have any users in Antarctica yet, even though it looks so big.
February 25, 2021
I have been watching the habits of those who view our website, and one disturbing thing has become very clear. Those who use smart phones instead of computers or tablets to view websites usually do not check out multiple pages or download files. They are quick to quit. You can not see much on the small screens, and that easily leads to the wrong assumption that there is really not much to see on the website.
Smart phones have their place, of course, as mobile phones, cameras, and to help speed up communications, but they can NOT replace a computer or tablet. Sadly many use them as if they could.
February 25, 2021
The first Bible school that I attended was Word of Life Bible Institute in upstate New York. That was in 1970-71, 50 years ago when that school first started. So yesterday I decided to update my alumni data on the Word of Life (WOL) website and see if I could get some email addresses for Word of Life missionaries and schools around the world. What a find! Word of Life has grown greatly over the years. So I was able to send information about our new website and free materials to missionaries in many countries. I also found some old friends in Bermuda, South Korea, and South Africa. Best of all, perhaps I was able to make some new friends. For instance, Peter in Kenya send us a thank you email, and it looks like he has been checking out the materials already.
February 15, 2021
Today, I taught one of Mitsy's more advanced English students for about 30 minutes using the "Life Is Not Fair, but God is." set of cards. It was a good English lesson, since quite a bit of vocabulary, especially adjectives, relates to the four areas of life (physical, mental, material, and social) illustrated with the four different colors, but, more importantly, the cards show that without God and an afterlife life really is unfair.
February 7, 2021
This is a photo of Mt. Fuji taken from Mitsy's sister's apartment in Tokyo on a clear winter day. In addition to the mountain, you can clearly see that I put "TOA Minstries" (our publishing name), over the Seiyu department store sign. This is to illustrate our vision to distribute Bible studies all over Japan. -- Last week, a box with six texts went to a church near Tokyo last week, and another similar box went to Okinawa in the far south. Obviously, we are tiny compared to the Seiyu chain, but we are thankful that the work is growing.
January 31, 2021
Yesterday, we received an order for Bible study materials from a large (for Japan) church in the Tokyo area. This church has previously used two other sets that Mitsy translated. Now we have three additional sets ready to use in Japanese, including the Top 55 People in the Bible materials. (cards shown, comes with booklet) Within Japan, it is possible for us to print out and package materials to mail to those who need them. People like hard copies! The English materials for the U.S. etc. can be printed out for free via the website, since it costs too much to ship internationally.
January 17, 2021
This morning an old friend, Mr. Y., a retired truck driver, called, and as we talked, he pointed out that self-control is the final virtue in the nine-part Fruit of the Spirit set (Gal. 5:22-23). I had never thought about that before, though I did a lot of study on self-control [temperance] in Peter's Gem (2 Pet. 1:5-7). -- Though Mr. Y. and I now live in different parts of Japan, Bible studies and fellowship by phone are still a frequent blessing.
As we discussed Paul's order in Gal. 5:22-23, we noticed that this self-control at the end of 5:23 comes just before 5:24 which is about avoiding sinful fleshly passions and desires through Christ. So Gal. 5:24 also is about self-control. In addition, walking in the Spirit in 5:25 involves self-control and is how we can avoid provoking and envying one another (5:26). So self-control at the end of Paul's orderly list is closely linked to much of what comes after. Therefore self-control is NOT a minor term compared to love, joy, and peace 5:22)! You might even say that it is climactic.
January 13, 2021
Yesterday, I heard about the home going of young Japanese man who was mentally challenged but loved by those in his church. I believe that he was faithful to the Lord in as much as his abilities and inabilities allowed his to be so. Therefore I also believe that God will reward him GREATLY. (He is "handicapped" no more!) Some believers are greatly gifted, most are average, and some are greatly challenged, but it is faithfulness which will be judged.
Thinking of this young man, today, I worked on a new set of cards to use in teaching biblical stewardship. In the past, I used the UNO ® game to do this, but some have misunderstood. I am NOT interested in promoting UNO ® as a game! So a new set of original cards (and instructions) titled "LIFE IS NOT FAIR!" will be coming soon. The subtitle of the material is "GOD IS FAIR!"
January 8, 2021
We got about two feet of new snow yesterday and today. The local skiers rejoice in the snow, but we are thankful when the snow plow comes. There are no for-hire folks who plow driveways in our area, but the town snow-removal contractor does our small driveway FOR FREE each storm since it is connected to an important parking lot. There is still much snow for us to shovel, but the plow makes it much easier.
That said, Paul shows that it is safer to rejoice in the Lord (Phil. 3:3, 4:4) than in the three C's -- in circumcision (the flesh, 3:3), in circumstances (4:6, 12), or even in citizenship (the government, 3:20). Many in Philippi were retired Roman soldiers. So it was natural for them to rejoice in Roman rule instead of in the Lord of heaven. I believe that is one of the reasons why Paul commanded the Philippians as he did. WE ALSO need to rejoice in the Lord in this time of political and immoral change. (There is a link to a study on this topic above.)
January 4, 2021
Today, I added print-ready files (pdfs) for the Bible Top 55 cards (English and Japanese) to the Bible Top 55 page. Now it will be easier for users to begin using the Top 55 studies and games. -- I also added a new Top 55 Solitaire game along with a video to demonstrate it.
December 26, 2020more info.
I woke up unusually early this morning (before 5 AM), probably because of eating too many delicious Christmas snacks (with chocolate) yesterday! With the early rise, however, came a great new idea to turn the new People in the Life of David Chart (worked on yesterday) into a game board. With this new "game" learning from the 60 or so people on the David summary chart can be a lot of fun.
I had to create a new list to go along with the "game," and that took much of the day, but it is going to be worth it. Over lunch, Mitsy and I talked about using this material in our next youth / teen meeting. Please check out this great new game by clicking the button above or the "David Who's Who" item under the FUN menu on the home page.
December 4, 2020
What a great day it was, but why did it take so long -- nearly nine months in all -- to develop and publish the Toa Ministries website? The answer is obvious. There are 21 great sets of Bible studies, several of which contain 20 or more individual studies! You will not find nearly that many on most other websites, and certainly not if the site is new. It took months to collect and rework studies from the past, write dozens of new ones, and design the actual website itself.
Thankfully, due to the Corvid-19 pandemic, I had more time to work on all this since April than I would have had otherwise. Most of our ministries have continued in modified form since spring, and the work on the website fit in wonderfully with the various messages given and Bible studies taught (online and otherwise) during the period. So 2020 has been a surprisingly good year for the Lord's work!