Doers, Not Hearers Only

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Hey TD,

Here’s a great reminder and charge to go and put our faith into practice in our everyday lives.

James wrote his letter to Diaspora Jews who had become Christians (1:1). As Jews living outside Jerusalem, they had developed a great appreciation for listening to the reading of the Law in the synagogues, especially because they could not attend the temple services. They considered hearing the Law to be a proper substitute for the temple sacrifices. After becoming Christians, it appears, they continued to think in the same way: to hear the Word of God in their meetings was enough for them to remain God’s people.

James, however, says to them that merely hearing the Word will not save them:

Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. (James 1:22–24)

If the people did not practice what they regularly heard in their meetings, they were deceiving themselves. “To deceive” here means to make an erroneous assessment of something and then lead someone else to error through this assessment (Col. 2:4). James’ readers were deceiving themselves by having misjudged the value of hearing the Word, as if merely listening to sermons could save them. The Word is powerful to save, and when the Word saves people, it causes them to bear the fruit of obedience. However, because they did not make this assessment, they were content with being mere hearers. They were deceiving themselves.

James exhorts them to be “doers” of the Word. Doers go forward with something, as part of what they believe. Doers obey the Word of God, putting His teachings into practice, in contrast with someone who is content at merely listening to that Word.

James introduces a comparison to explain the uselessness of hearing the Word without acting on it. There is a similarity between the mere hearers of sermons and someone who looks in the mirror and soon forgets his face. Both the mere hearer and the forgetful contemplator do nothing about what they have heard and seen. Therefore, the hearing and seeing do not result in anything. They are useless and fruitless exercises, even if done with great attention and dedication.

What is the use of hearing the Word of God if we are not corrected and encouraged to do what is right? How can we have been saved if we do not practice what we hear? Through the prophet Ezekiel, God denounced His people under the old covenant for exactly the same mistake: “They hear what you say, but they will not do it” (Ezek. 33:31–32). The Lord Jesus compared the one who hears His words and does not do them to a house without a solid foundation (Matt. 7:26). Many Christians do not so much need to learn new things but need instead to put into practice what they have already heard and learned.

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TD Fri. – Student-led SG’s – “Being a Neighbor” mp3/Table of Contents

 

Hey TD!

This Friday’s meeting is a going to be an important and full one, as we unveil the upcoming Neighbor Night opportunity to help you reach and love a friend.  We’ll also spend time in student-led small groups to work through Jesus’ call for us to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Please work through last Friday’s message, “Being a Neighbor,” before our meeting.  Here is the Table of Contents:

“Being a Neighbor” (mp3) – Arthur

Table of Contents:

1:30 – 6:13            Training us to produce our best when our best is needed

6:14 – 11:30         For the prize/For the King of the Ring (engraved on CIF Championship Ring)

13:18 – 14:33       Opening Prayer

14:40 –   18:28     The best kind of love to love our neighbors with

18:36 –   24:20     The orphan spirit and the spirit of a well-adjusted child

24:50 –   27:00     Rebecca X reads Luke 10:25 – 37

27:00 – 33:25       Who qualifies to be our neighbor?

33:25 –   47:40     Jesus answers with a poignant and powerful story of compassion – a  lesson in loving our neighbors as ourselves

47:40 –   53:27     How far do we have to go in loving our neighbors?  Jesus answers.

53:27 –   58:38     Are we willing to join Jesus in being a neighbor?

58:40 – 1:11:05   We need to respond to God’s call for us – Daniel sings “Open Space”

Luke 10:25- 37

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[c]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[d]

28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[e] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Let’s do likewise.  See you Friday, TD!

TD Fri. – “Loving Our Neighbors”

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Hey TD!

We had a great February working on the Outward prong, discussing “How We Are Supposed to Live” and getting the chance to live it out during Love One Another Night.  Each small group had a very special time of spending the evening with someone special in our church.  From all accounts, it was a real blessing  – and much needed – in their lives.  One said that she hadn’t had that much fun in years.  It was also a real blessing for each of us that participated.  And that’s no surprise, because loving is fun!  It’s what we were made for, and we are at our very best when we are loving; and we all love being at our best.

This month, we begin expanding that sphere of influence as we look further outward to explore “hows, whys, and what fors” of fulfilling God’s call on our lives to reach our “neighbors.”  It starts this Friday with our study, “Loving Our Neighbors.”

Make sure you arrange your schedules to come and begin grounding yourself in learning how to live out your calling.

TD Fri. – “Ask Anything” @ USC – RSVP

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Hey TD!

Friday

This Friday, we will have the privilege to attend the Ask Anything Tour at USC, hosted by Ligonier Ministries. Dr. Albert Mohler, a world-class prolific author, radio host, TV guest (ABC, NBC, CNN, FOX), newspaper contributor (Washington Post, USA Today, Wall St. Journal), social commentator, theologian, seminary president, and Ligonier Teaching Fellow will be inviting non–church going students, skeptics, and atheists to literally ask anything pertaining to life, faith, Christianity, culture, etc.  It will be a profound time.

This is not an event churches are invited to. It is an event for the skeptic and unbeliever. However, TD has been granted permission to attend.

Please let your leader know IMMEDIATELY if you’ll be able to attend. We will meet at church at 6 p.m. and will return by 10:30 p.m.

If you are not going with us, there will be no TD meeting at church.

Saturday Morning

TD has also been granted permission to attend Truth and Consequences, a training event to help equip Christian college students to defend the claims of Christ, to explain to unbelievers that Jesus is the way of salvation, and how to know Him more fully. Trainers will be Drs. Albert Mohler, Stephen Nichols, and Burk Parsons.

This event is already sold out.  However, we have secured a limited number of seats for TD.  If you want to go, please let your small group leader know ASAP!  We will meet at the Hsiehs’ home at 8:15 a.m. and return by 1 p.m.

We look forward to seeing you this weekend!

TD Sat. – Serve Our Society (SOS) Saturday!

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Hey TD!

We have a great opportunity to build on Love One Another Night by befriending and hanging out with some wonderful elderly friends this Saturday.  It’ll be a feel-good time of encouragement, doing what’s right, perspective, and fun.  The residents at the Care Center are so special and rich in heart, you’re sure to be blessed.

Meet at the Hsiehs’ at 9:30 a.m. You’ll return to the Hsiehs’ by around noon, where we will have lunch together (or you can go home).  Let your small group leader know if you can make it!

The Beauty of the Dandelion

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Hey TD!

Love One Another Night was a truly blessed time for all and something we will be doing more of in the future.  We have to.  The reports of blessing we’re getting confirm this.  But we shouldn’t be surprised at the blessing we got, for this what God promises us … “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:25
Kathy shared this poignant and meaningful piece with TD’s leadership after Love One Another Night.  We’d like to share it with you as well, in hopes it will both broaden and deepen your understanding of life.
by Vaneetha Rendall Risner

Sometimes I feel useless.

I once felt accomplished, serving others rather than needing to be served. I brought meals to people in need but now I can’t even make my own coffee, and sometimes my husband even helps me lift my cup. When Joel is out of town, someone needs to stay with me because I can no longer stay alone. Nothing seems easy anymore, and I look back on my days of independence with longing. At times, I feel I have little to offer.

I know in my head that usefulness isn’t what the Christian life is all about. God doesn’t need me, and I am not indispensable in the kingdom- none of us are. God delights in us, not because of anything we bring or do, but simply because we are his beloved children.

Additionally, usefulness isn’t for us to measure; God often uses us in ways that we never see or know. This life is not about our glory – the impact we make on this world – but about God’s glory. His grace is sufficient for us and his power is made perfect in our weakness. So when we look weak, we really are strong (2 Cor 12:9, 10b).

The dying dandelion, which is embedded in my logo and on my website, reminds me of strength from seeming weakness. While dandelions are unwelcome on my lawn, their beauty at the end of their lives has captivated me.

In its heyday, the dandelion is bright and rugged. It grows in harsh conditions, often in places where no one sees or knows but God. Some people see it as unstoppable, its bright yellow petals visible from a distance.

But as it is dying, being stripped of its strength, the dandelion is often hard to see. It has given everything and there seems to be nothing left; the vibrant color that once defined it is gone. In this stage, it is preparing to reproduce, doing its most glorious work.

Sometimes, like the dandelion, we feel we are most useful to God when we are sunny, strong and resilient. People notice us. But when our health changes and we feel delicate and dependent, we wonder what good our lives are. And society reinforces that doubt by ignoring the elderly, encouraging euthanasia, shunning the disabled, aborting the unwanted. It seems as though we must prove our usefulness for society to value us. And when we can’t, we may feel like a burden to others, wishing we could be more productive.

But when does the dandelion do its most important work? When it’s dying. When the fragile seeds are blown away by the wind. When it’s surrendered itself and is sowing seeds of new life. And the stronger the wind blows, the farther the seeds will go – to places that the lone flower could have never gone itself.

Lilias Trotter, an artist and missionary to Algeria in the late 1800’s said this:

This dandelion has long ago surrendered its golden petals and has reached its crowning stage of dying – the delicate seed globe must break up now – it gives and gives till it has nothing left… There is no sense of wrenching: it stands ready, holding up its little life, not knowing when or where or how the wind that blows with where it listeth may carry it away. It holds itself no longer for its own keeping, only as something to be given: a breath does the rest, turning the “readiness to will” into the “performance.”

In John 12:24, Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” A grain of wheat may be useful and majestic when it stands tall and alone, but it doesn’t reproduce or bear fruit then. Its influence is only multiplied when it falls into the ground and dies. When it’s bruised and buried and the external kernel rots away underground, carrying the seeds of new life.

When we die, whether it be physical death or the death of our dreams or dying to ourselves, something remarkable happens. God brings new life.

No one looks forward to dying. Or being stripped bare. Or feeling useless. Most people say they want to die in their sleep when they are capable and healthy; they don’t want to face the ravages of aging and disability. But watching others trust God as they struggle with debilitating frailties is sacred. It inspires me in my own struggles. I know that God will be sufficient for me just as he has been sufficient for them. Their stalk may be bare, but it stands firm. And those people are a marvel to me.

I have the privilege of being in a Pain Pal group with friends who are enduring unspeakable physical suffering. Many of them have caregivers because they cannot care for themselves. Yet their radiance is profound; they speak of an intimacy and joy in Christ that carries them through the worst pain imaginable. They are my heroes. Their willingness to praise God and encourage others amid their own struggles has changed me.  Struggles like stabbing, mind-numbing relentless pain, waking up constantly through the night in agony (if they sleep at all), quadriplegia, multiple amputations, lying in bed in a dark room all day unable to do anything. Compared to most of them, I know nothing of suffering. And yet they constantly reassure me that my pain matters – all our pain matters.

These friends remind me of the dandelion. They are completely yielded to God and their lives are a testimony of his grace. They may feel they can do nothing but lie in bed and pray, but they are bearing more fruit than most do in a lifetime of serving. Their influence is greater than they can imagine, and the wind is carrying their witness to faraway places. It’s being carried by God who is using it for his glory.

Lilias Trotter has a sketch of the dandelion with a quote by Ugo Bassi beside it. It reads:

Measure thy life by loss and not by gain; not by the wine drunk but by the wine poured forth, for love’s strength standeth in love’s sacrifice, and he that suffereth most hath most to give.

SideBar-Vaneetha
Vaneetha Rendall Risner – http://www.vaneetha.com
Vaneetha was 3 months old when she contracted Polio.  Within 24 hours she was paralyzed due to a doctor’s mistake.  She has had a lifetime of immense suffering … and ensuing God-given joy.  Her blog Dance in the Rain is a powerful source of truth, sharing, honesty, vulnerability, and hope, as is her book, The Scars That Have Shaped Me

“Rise & Shine” Podcast #1 w/Kathy & Hannah (sooo cute!)

“Rise & Shine” Podcast #1 with Kathy and Hannah

 

Hey TD!

I’m glad to introduce you to a brand new podcast, Rise and Shine, featuring our very own Kathy and Hannah!  Honestly, it’s so adorable, I want to scream.  In fact, I did, screaming, “This is soooo cute!”

But not only is it cute, it’s educational, as Kathy reads the story of Brother Andrew, who faithfully fulfilled his calling by courageously bringing Bibles to people in closed countries.

Enjoy and consider what God is calling you to do in His plan for the world! – Arthur