Come to SOS Saturday!

“For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh but through love serve one another.” – Gal. 5:13

Hey TD!

We have another wonderful opportunity to serve our elders and to be part of what’s right in society.  It’s not only a blessing to serve the widows and elderly, but it’s our duty as His hands and feet to do so in His Name.

Please join us at 9:30 a.m. at my home.  We’ll return by noon.  IF you want to stay for lunch, you’re welcome to as well!  See you then! – Arthur

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TD Fri. – Small Group Study – “Loving Unhypocritically”

Image result for hypocrisy

Hey TD!

This Friday, we will be in our small groups discussing love and hypocrisy.  As usual, each small group will be planning their own evening, so make sure you’re in contact with your small group leader for time and location.

Please prepare for this Friday’s discussion by working through the small group study Judy prepared below.  You’ll also find the Table of Contents for the message that you’ll need to bolster your understanding of the study.

“Loving Unhypocritically” Rom. 12:9 (sg study)

“Loving Unhypocritically” Rom. 12:9 (mp3) – Judy

“Loving Unhypocritically” Rom. 12:9 (mp3) – Judy Table of Contents

“Renew” theme  review and introduction (Arthur) – 0:00

Paul’s purpose and context in writing Romans – 23:15

The outline of the letter of Romans – 27:35

Let’s talk about love  (four loves, CS Lewis) – 31:50

The what and how of exercising spiritual gifts with love – 40:00

Stewarding what you’ve been given – 43:15

Hypocrisy and why God hates it – 50:50

Abhor what is evil – 54:50

Cling to what is good (“Blowing the Fluff Away” poem) – 1:02:40

 

 

 

Eating Together

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I can still remember vividly that cold September Sunday. My wife and I had just arrived in London, where I was to do some further theological training. We found our way to a local church for corporate worship. Immediately after the service, a kind, elderly couple turned around and introduced themselves. Betrayed by our outrageous American accents, we were obviously from “out of town.” Almost without hesitation, this couple, whom we had met only moments before, invited us to have Sunday lunch at their home. What a glorious afternoon we had in a traditional English home. The meal was delicious, but it was the fellowship we shared as brothers and sisters in Christ that was truly satisfying.

One of the blessings we enjoy as Christians is that wherever we find ourselves in the world, we have a community to which we belong, where genuine relationships with other Christians can be enjoyed. If we neglect table fellowship, we will miss one of the wonderful ways God builds authentic community in the church, and we will sacrifice an opportunity to witness to the reality of the kingdom to the world.

As creatures made in God’s image, we were created for relationships, both with God and with other image bearers. By God’s design, therefore, genuine relationships are the basis for all human flourishing. We learn in the Bible that sharing a meal together is one of the primary ways relationships are established, deepened, and enjoyed both with God and with others. Think of the covenant meal the elders of Israel enjoyed with God on Mount Sinai. Moses records the spellbinding experience in Exodus 24:9–11:

Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, and they saw the God of Israel. . . . And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank.

The Old Testament prophets often compared life in the new heavens and earth with the picture of a divine banqueting table (Isa. 25:6; 55:1–2). In the New Testament, we regularly find Jesus reclining “at table” during His earthly ministry, engaging with real people, furthering His kingdom work, fostering true community, demonstrating reconciliation with God, and building genuine fellowship among His disciples (Luke 5:29; 7:36; 11:37; 14:15). Of course, Jesus calls us to gather around His table where we enjoy fellowship with Him and with our brothers and sisters by virtue of the Holy Spirit who indwells us (Luke 22:19–20; 1 Cor. 10:15–17). The early church gathered regularly in homes to “break bread together” as a practical expression of their fellowship in Christ (Acts 2:46). The Apostles exhort us to show hospitality (Rom. 12:13; Heb. 13:2; 1 Peter 4:9). Finally, our eternal, joyous, soul-satisfying communion with God and our brothers and sisters in Christ is depicted as the great marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev. 9:6–10). Eating together is important.

Our communion with God and our brothers and sisters in Christ is depicted as the great marriage supper of the Lamb.

Christians have always enjoyed sharing a meal because of the rich biblical symbolism; because it is a tangible expression of service, love, and unity; and because of the opportunity it affords for true fellowship and genuine community. Practically, sharing a meal nourishes our need to know and be known because it facilitates face-to-face conversation.

In our digitally connected world, we share a tremendous amount of information through texts, e-mails, and tweets; however, because a significant amount of communication is nonverbal, precious little communication actually occurs digitally. Seeing someone’s facial expression, hearing the tone of his voice, and looking into his eyes are all vital elements of real communication. Ideally, sharing a meal would put us face-to-face with real people. But I am sure you have witnessed this scene: people out together at a restaurant, sitting at the same table, interacting not with each other but with their phones. It reminds me of the film WALL-E, in which the remnant of the human race is hurtling through space on a rocket ship. On the ship, everyone has his own digital recliner that hovers above the floor. Each recliner has its own screen that delivers hypnotic doses of information. The result is that people never talk to one another or interact with their environment. Because they never have to walk, their muscles have atrophied, and because they never have to think, they are easily manipulated. The point is clear: technology can become dehumanizing. It is therefore vital that we emphasize the importance of living in personal relationships within the church.

Tragically, in our modern, Western culture, authentic communication and real relationships are in decline. Sadly, nuclear families rarely eat together today; how much less do we invite others to our homes? In a world where we are growing more divided and isolated, one of the tangible, compelling, and attractive distinctives of the church will be our authentic relationships and loving community. Christians will be people who actually talk to one another face-to-face (2 John 12). Sharing a meal will be an “otherworldly” experience to our otherwise fractured, depersonalized, and hyperindividualized world, and therefore a tremendous witness to the reality of Christ’s kingdom. We have to invite our friends and neighbors to come out into the light of unfiltered relationship both with God and with others. Without such relationships, human flourishing is impossible.

I encourage you to extend an invitation today and begin to develop the kind of rich relationships we were designed to enjoy at our tables. Want to come over for dinner?

TD Fri. – A TD Valentine’s Day Party!

Heart, Love, Valentine, Red, Pink, Shades, Design

Hey TD!

This Friday, we focus and celebrate True Love! Come to the party, where we’ll have fun, games, a short message, and yummy red and pink refreshments! As always, it’s going to be a blast!

Just make sure you are wearing lots of red and pink when you come!

We will have the TD pre-party at 7:15 as usual.  See you Friday!

Throwback Thursday – The Original Speakers!

The original Speakers story featured on the TD Commotion (with surprise anchors and cameos!) Produced by TD alum, Jenny, over a decade ago, it’s still a great piece.

Hey TD!

As we begin a new season of training youth speakers for the 2018 CA So. Baptist Youth Speakers Tournament (YST), I thought you’d enjoy a blast from the past! Back when we had the “Total Devotion Commotion” video program, we did a feature on the very first YST we entered in 2006.

About a week before the Los Angeles Association Drill, I had somewhat of an epiphany and saw a vision to begin training TD’ers to be able to communicate God’s Word effectively.  I pitched the idea to four seniors, asking them to be the guinea pigs and to take the first steps to open the doors for future TD’ers to walk through.  Even though all the other churches had already been preparing months in advance, I just wanted them to open the doors.  There was no way we were going to win or anything, but even entering would start the ball rolling for us.

I thought the four accepted the challenge, but one of them said she never did, so when she received my email thanking all of them for buying into the vision and being willing to do something crazy like enter YST with only a week to prepare, she went to the bathroom and cried.  Who could blame her? Public speaking is America’s greatest fear. Who was it? I’ll let you watch the video above to find out.

We spent nearly everyday at my home the following week preparing.  One speaker dropped out early, and then another had a scheduling conflict, leaving only two speakers left.  But God led us here and God’s hand was all over this (and clearly has been ever since).  The rest, as they say, is history.

Though we have had 13 tournament champions and 8 runners-up since then, we have had many, many more true winners – in the most important ways – before God. Through fierce struggle, perseverance, tears, and the mercy and grace of God, we have had speakers who thought they were Christians coming in, actually become Christians during Speakers.  We’ve had life re-dedications, victory over fear, personal “dragons” slain, and many tears of joy and triumph.

All I can say about the Speakers process is that it is … magic.  Enjoy the video! – Arthur

 

TD Fri. – Guess Who’s Speaking ???

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Sandra and Judy on MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority), heading to the hotel from the Atlanta airport.

Hey TD!

I am excited to invite you to TD this Friday as Judy makes her TD teaching debut! Judy is a talented communicator and pursuer of Truth that Sandra and I have had the privilege of counseling and mentoring since her freshman year in high school (in TD, Speakers, discipleship groups, as a TD intern, etc.).

In fact, as a high school junior, Judy made the effort and raised the funds to join my family in Atlanta to participate in Ravi Zacharias International Ministry’s week-long Summer Institute, a 32+ hour intensive apologetics training forum geared towards adults.

Judy is a hungry girl (for both spiritual and physical food, might I add!) and does what it takes to try to keep growing in Christ. Judy will be continuing our year’s theme from Romans 12, Renew: Transforming Our Life In Christ, teaching on verse 9:

“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.”

Please meditate on this verse this week and continue to memorize Romans 12.  By the end of this month, you should have memorized verses 1-9:

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.

For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, 

so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 

Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, [f]according to the proportion of his faith;

if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; 

or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.

See you on Friday! – Arthur