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Restoring Lost Values
by Tom Goodman
April 13, 2011

Hundreds of ancient stone markers dot the coastlines of Japan to warn future residents of tsunamis -- one is nearly 600 years old.  The markers instruct readers to get to high ground after earthquakes, or caution future generations not to build homes and businesses at elevations below the markers.

The Associated Press reported on these warnings from past generations, suddenly relevant as Japan recovers from the devastating tsunami last month.  Reading about the ancient markers reminded me how vital it is to draw on the wisdom handed down to us.

"High dwellings are the peace and harmony of our descendants," one stone slab reads near the village of Aneyoshi.  "Remember the calamity of the great tsunamis.  Do not build any homes below this point."

The village grew up as a collection of homes built uphill of some of the markers specifically to be safe.  Residents of Aneyoshi are raised knowing of the stones and their meaning.  The hamlet survived last month's flood.

"Everybody here knows about the markers.  We studied them in school," said Yuto Kimura, 12, who guided a recent visitor to one near his Aneyoshi home.  "When the tsunami came, my mom got me from school and then the whole village climbed to higher ground."

Why would such life-saving knowledge from the past be neglected?  "People had this crucial knowledge, but they were busy with their lives and jobs, and many forgot," said Yotaru Hatamura, a scholar who has studied the tablets.  Another university teacher, Fumihiko Imamura, a professor of disaster planning, said, "It takes about three generations for people to forget.  Those that experience the disaster themselves pass it to their children and their grandchildren, but then the memory fades."

Through the prophet Jeremiah, God said, "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it" (Jeremiah 6:16).  It's profitable to draw from the wisdom of those who've learned how to make life work.

This Sunday, we'll begin a new study series called "Restoring Lost Values."  Particularly, we'll look at the most fundamental values in Scripture: faith, hope, love, and generosity.  This sermon series will help us prepare spiritually during our renovation campaign, "A Beautiful Thing."  Keep up with the latest news of the camapaign at our website.  See you and your Bible this Palm Sunday @ 10am!


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