A New Year’s Gift to God

Hey TD’ers!

In this final hour of 2013, I write this post to invite you to join several members of my family, as well as Joni and Ken Tada (!), in going through the entire Bible in 2014 in chronological order.  There are 6 readings each week, giving a one day grace for catching up each week! – don’t you love how grace is built into this plan 🙂  And you can do it by reading and/or listening to it read by Max McLean!

Click here the 2014 Chronological Bible-in-a-Year Reading Plan!

If you want to listen to it read on your phone or computer, here’s where you can download the app. https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/64-reading-gods-story .  Click on NIV and you can listen there. Happy New Year! – Arthur

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Looking Back on 2013

Hey TD’ers!

We hope you had a wonderful Christmas and are looking forward to 2014 with purpose.  But before we head into 2014, I was hoping you’d help us celebrate our first full year of blogging!  How?  Can you do us a favor and share with us your top 5 favorite posts of 2013?  And if you want to share why, that would be great too (though not required)!  That’ll help us improve in 2014.  If you have any comments, thoughts, suggestions, or anything to share that you’d like us to know, feel free!  If you’d prefer to email them to me, you know my email address 🙂

Thanks and Happy New Year!  We’ll see you at TD this Friday, where we’ll have a special presentation to kick off the new year. – Arthur

What Will You Give Jesus? Day 12

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me … A CHILD BORN TO SET THE WORLD FREE!!  On this twelfth and final day of our gift giving to Jesus, we have a poetic extravaganza to give to Jesus – four original poems crafted for Jesus’ heart and our blessing!  Thanks Eunice, Josh, Sam, and Abigail!  Enjoy and Merry Christmas, TD! – Arthur

Christmas Prose

by Eunice Im

Christmas is a season full of longing and expectation. For instance, the Christmas lights and other pleasant decorations induce a romantic feeling in air, which put us in ‘the mood.’ We look forward to time off from school and work, for Christmas morning when we get to open presents, and for that one time during the year when the radio plays Christmas music all day long (okay, some of us enjoy the music). With all the child-like anticipation building up, this season can turn the grumpiest of Scrooges into kind and generous men; it can also remind us of deeper hungers yet to be fulfilled. Gift exchanges may promote kindness and appreciation, but also stir within us a desire for this kindness to last throughout the year. The extra family gatherings warm our hearts, but also remind us of lost loved ones and relationships that need mending. Isn’t it funny how heightened expectations can and often does lead to a deeper sense of expectation? That’s probably the reason why this season is painful for so many – it’s a reminder of all the things yet to be fulfilled. Before we prematurely call Christmas a hoax, a fake, a huge trick, let’s remember Christmas in its true essence. On that historic night, many years ago, God met with us, not in a deceitful way (like the many advertisements that promise slimmer bodies and happier times but do not deliver on their promises), but He truly, humbly, genuinely met with us. He promised from ages past through prophets like Isaiah, and He came through. This Christmas, let’s celebrate how He began the process of fulfilling all those deeper longings for reconciliation, true kindness and eternal life. Let’s celebrate…and wait for He is not done yet.

 

Christmas Poem

by Joshua Hsu

The splendor and the grandeur that must have been there when the Son was born.

Well actually, I don’t remember that in the Bible mentioned on that Christmas morn.

He was born in a stable,

Humble to the lowest state.

He was the King of Kings

And yet he didn’t even grow up on an Emperor’s rich estate.

He came to die for sins that He never made

God loved us so, that He was sacrificed for condemned man that shouldn’t be saved

He bridged the gap, which was impossible for us to cross

As he hung there bleeding for us on the Cross

Amazing Grace, that’s what the Christmas story is.

In history, it’s His story of salvation and the love He gives

Don’t get me wrong, its not about us, Its all about Him

He is a jealous God, pointing us constantly to Him

He is the answer, but yet we don’t have the power to see

And maybe thats why it is so hard for us to believe

A revelation

I get it

Now I finally see

The Christmas story is the story of the loved sinners now redeemed.

On Christmas Day

 by Samantha Chen

On Christmas the sun shines bright

A single glint shines on a little girl’s eyes

She quickly awakens to the light,

Because Christmas day has finally come

She rushes fast down as if in flight

To find all the presents under the tree

But one particularly caught her sight

A single box wrapped in a bow

She quickly opens the box as if in rage,

Only to find a leather book inside

A single book with thousands of pages

Was what she least expect on Christmas day

Running up to her parent’s bed

She shows them her leather book

“It’s a gift for you,” They said

“And in it a greater gift lies”

“This book tells of a God who created,

Protected, and loved us a lot.

But because of the sin we committed

We were doom to a road to death”

“However because God love us so

He planned a gift that would given be to us

A gift we did not deserve but now we can hold

Was born on Christmas night”

“He was God’s only son named Jesus

And He lived a perfect sinless life

He performed miracles and healed weaknesses

And showed His Father’s love to many others”

“But that’s not only why God sent Him

He sent Him to us so that we may live

He sent Him to die for our sins,

Even though He lived a sinless life”

“This is the greatest gift given to us,

By a Great and Loving God”

With this they leave to clean up her paper mess

As the girl looks and wonders about the book

She eyes the book in a different way

As if it is a treasure to uphold

Because on this special day

She saw what Christmas was really about

The Twelve Days of Christmas

 by Abigail Suen

On the first day of Christmas,

We gave to Jesus,

Our hearts, strength, minds, and souls.

On the second day of Christmas,

We gave to Jesus,

Two offerings,

And our hearts, strength, minds, and souls.

On the third day of Christmas,

We gave to Jesus,

Three cheerful carols,

Two offerings,

And our hearts, strength, minds, and souls.

On the fourth day of Christmas,

We gave to Jesus,

Four lovely cards,

Three cheerful carols,

Two offerings,

And our hearts, strength, minds, and souls.

On the fifth day of Christmas,

We gave to Jesus,

Five green wreaths,

Four lovely cards,

Three cheerful carols,

Two offerings,

And our hearts, strength, minds, and souls.

On the sixth day of Christmas,

We gave to Jesus,

Six meals for the poor,

Five green wreaths,

Four lovely cards,

Three cheerful carols,

Two offerings,

And our hearts, strength, minds, and souls.

On the seventh day of Christmas,

We gave to Jesus,

Seven gifts for needy children,

Six meals for the poor,

Five green wreaths,

Four lovely cards,

Three cheerful carols,

Two offerings,

And our hearts, strength, minds, and souls.

On the eighth day of Christmas,

We gave to Jesus,

Eight gospel tracks for neighbors,

Seven gifts for needy children,

Six meals for the poor,

Five green wreaths,

Four lovely cards,

Three cheerful carols,

Two offerings,

And our hearts, strength, minds, and souls.

On the ninth day of Christmas,

We gave to Jesus,

Nine home visitations,

Eight gospel tracks for neighbors,

Seven gifts for needy children,

Six meals for the poor,

Five green wreaths,

Four lovely cards,

Three cheerful carols,

Two offerings,

And our hearts, strength, minds, and souls.

On the tenth day of Christmas,

We gave to Jesus,

Ten Nativity plays,

Nine home visitations,

Eight gospel tracks for neighbors,

Seven gifts for needy children,

Six meals for the poor,

Five green wreaths,

Four lovely cards,

Three cheerful carols,

Two offerings,

And our hearts, strength, minds, and souls.

On the eleventh day of Christmas,

We gave to Jesus,

Eleven church services,

Ten Nativity plays,

Nine home visitations,

Eight gospel tracks for neighbors,

Seven gifts for needy children,

Six meals for the poor,

Five green wreaths,

Four lovely cards,

Three cheerful carols,

Two offerings,

And our hearts, strength, minds, and souls.

On the twelfth day of Christmas,

We gave to Jesus,

Twelve pious prayers,

Eleven church services,

Ten Nativity plays,

Nine home visitations,

Eight gospel tracks for neighbors,

Seven gifts for needy children,

Six meals for the poor,

Five green wreaths,

Four lovely cards,

Three cheerful carols,

Two offerings,

And our hearts, strength, minds, and souls.

What Will You Give Jesus? Day 11

Well, it’s Christmas Eve and some families are already opening their gifts.  I opened this gift to Jesus last night and couldn’t wait to share it with you!  You TD girls got to hear this live already, but we boys didn’t 😦  Well, now we can 🙂  Thanks Mel, Catherine, and Katherine!  It’s a blessing!

“Gift to Jesus” by Melody Hung, Catherine Wei, and Katherine Tao

Snowflakes falling, children smiling, a waft of apple pie
Families gathering, stars a twinkling, in the cozy night
Warm feelings fill our lonely hearts and we wonder why
Only through the blood of Jesus, we can know this light

(Chorus)
It’s Christmas time, gifts are given and received
But the greatest gift is your love for me
All that I can offer to you is my life
Jesus, this is my gift to you

Dear Lord Jesus, lying in the hay
A midst the hopelessness of this life
God of wonders beyond all that I can say
Love amazing, forever mine

Lord of all creation we have come to praise your name
God you are wonderful, so very great
Thank you fro the cross Lord, bearing all my sin and shame
You are so good to me, everyday

What Will You Give Jesus? Day 10

A few Christmases ago, Jenny emailed this post to my family.  It was a month after Sandra’s mom passed away.  I read it to Sandra’s family when we gathered on Christmas Day.  It ministered to all of us.  I pray that it will minister to you and that you will be able to use it as you minister to others this Christmas. – Arthur

Christmas Is for Those Who Hate It Most

By Matt B. Redmond

We are by now accustomed to hearing about how Christmas is difficult for many people. The story of Scrooge and his—ehem—problems with this season is no longer anecdotal. It is now par for the course. Maybe it always has been. Maybe the joy of the season has always been a thorn in the side of those who can scarcely imagine joy.

Not too long ago, I heard from someone about how difficult Christmas would be because of some heartbreak in their family. There was utter hopelessness and devastation. Christmas would be impossible to enjoy because of the freshness of this pain. It’s been a story very hard to forget.

I get it. I mean, it makes sense on the level of Christmas being a time in which there is a lot of heavily concentrated family time. The holidays can be tense in even the best of circumstances. Maneuvering through the landmines of various personalities can be hard even if there is no cancer, divorce or empty seat at the table. What makes it the most wonderful time of the year is also what makes it the most brutal time of the year. My own family has not been immune to this phenomenon.

But allow me to push back against this idea a little. Gently. I think we have it all backwards. We have it sunk deep into our collective cultural consciousness that Christmas is for the happy people. You know, those with idyllic family situations enjoyed around stocking-strewn hearth dreams. Christmas is for healthy people who laugh easily and at all the right times, right? The successful and the beautiful, who live in suburban bliss, can easily enjoy the holidays. They have not gotten lost on the way because of the GPS they got last year. They are beaming after watching a Christmas classic curled up on the couch as a family in front of their ginormous flat-screen. We live and act as if this is who should be enjoying Christmas.

But this is backwards. Christmas—the great story of the incarnation of the Rescuer—is for everyone, especially those who need a rescue. Jesus was born as a baby to know the pain and sympathize with our weaknesses. Jesus was made to be like us so that in his resurrection we can be made like him; free from the fear of death and the pain of loss. Jesus’ first recorded worshipers were not of the beautiful class. They were poor, ugly shepherds, beat down by life and labor. They had been looked down on over many a nose.

Jesus came for those who look in the mirror and see ugliness. Jesus came for daughters whose fathers never told them they were beautiful. Christmas is for those who go to “wing night” alone. Christmas is for those whose lives have been wrecked by cancer, and the thought of another Christmas seems like an impossible dream. Christmas is for those who would be nothing but lonely if not for social media. Christmas is for those whose marriages have careened against the retaining wall and are threatening to flip over the edge. Christmas is for the son whose father keeps giving him hunting gear when he wants art materials. Christmas is for smokers who cannot quit even in the face of a death sentence. Christmas is for prostitutes, adulterers, and porn stars who long for love in every wrong place. Christmas is for college students who are sitting in the midst of the family and already cannot wait to get out for another drink. Christmas is for those who traffic in failed dreams. Christmas is for those who have squandered the family name and fortune—they want “home” but cannot imagine a gracious reception. Christmas is for parents watching their children’s marriage fall into disarray.

Christmas is really about the gospel of grace for sinners. Because of all that Christ has done on the cross, the manger becomes the most hopeful place in a universe darkened with hopelessness. In the irony of all ironies, Christmas is for those who will find it the hardest to enjoy. It really is for those who hate it most.

What Will You Give Jesus? Day 9

During our small group time at “A TD Christmas” Michael shared his “gift” to Jesus – reflections on his past, and how to “do Christmas better” going forward.  I thought it would be really useful and helpful for us to keep in mind in these final days before Christmas … and for the rest of the holiday season!  Thanks, Michael! – Arthur

What I Would Have Told My Younger Self

Knowing that I’ll be spending my last (ever!) semester of school at home in the coming months, I reflected on what advice I would give to myself at the beginning of high school, when I still felt I had life figured all out. Turns out I didn’t, and hopefully you can relate.

Here are seven things I would have done differently during the holiday season:

1. Appreciate what you normally can’t or don’t

Go outdoors (your computer can wait)! Or enjoy a moment of silence – reflect on your year, pray knowing that your innermost feelings can be trusted to God, and ponder life’s intriguing mysteries.

2. Don’t let possessions possess you

This year, I was shocked to find that shops were opening on Thanksgiving night to attract customers before Black Friday normally starts. As a result, people were sacrificing valuable family time and cutting off their dinners early to line up for bargains; but when you think about it, are the “benefits” really worth the cost?

Within the context of gift-giving, exchanging expensive presents is one way to show someone you care, but not the only way. Time is money, too! What about treating that friend to dinner and hiking on a trail that overlooks the magnificent Los Angeles nighttime cityscape?

3. A positive attitude brings good cheer

Even if you’re not a big fan of this season, there’s no need to ruin it for others. For the past few years, I’ve thought that I was too old for the fun of Christmas, so I spent my time working and studying at the expense of the rest of my family’s experience. Looking back, I realize how big of a difference a small change in attitude could have made.

4. Take the time to decorate yourself

The tree is in the living room, the lights are up, the fireplace is lit…but remember that as Christ’s temple, you could use some decoration too! Consider how you could clean up bad habits and patch the holes (the inconsistencies) of your life. Then, when others look at you, you’ll be representing the body of Christ as best you can!

5. Give others the gift of…you!

Whether it’s volunteering, caroling at the convalescent home, or just lending an ear to listen, there are so many valuable contributions you can make to your community. Be proactive in finding these opportunities, and you’ll be blessed in return. Read Luke 14:13 if you need some inspiration.

6. Do yourself a favor and set some goals

Make a list, check it twice. If you’ve been naughty, resolve to be nice. Stick to your goal, no matter the price. Talk to a counselor, should you need some advice.

7. Remember Romans 14:8

Paul kindly reminds us that “For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.” In every situation that you’re in, make decisions that reflect who and what you live for!

– Michael Ruan

What Will You Give Jesus? Day 8

If you haven’t stopped to listen to Day 7’s John Piper poem, you NEED to. It’s phenomenal.

Today’s gift to Jesus is “Manger Throne,” a song that Nathaniel wrote for Jesus last Christmas.  Hope you like it.  Fyi, we’ll be singing his new Christmas song, “One of Us,” during this year’s Christmas Eve service 🙂 – Arthur

Manger Throne
by Nathaniel Hsieh
VERSE 1:
Journey on to Bethlehem
Though long the road may seem
Join with Mary’s wondering heart
“My Lord, how can this be?”
Come to the manger throne
Come worship Him alone
CHORUS:
As we sing Glory to God on high
For changing our world that holy night
For calling us into hope and life
Oh light divine, come shine on us
VERSE 2:
Journey with the wise men far
The star their only guide
Dream of peace for all mankind
A peace that will abide
Come to the manger throne
Come worship Him alone
VERSE 3:
Journey as the angels cry
“News, Good News, we bring”
Join as shepherds stand in awe
Then run to meet their king
Come to the manger throne
Come worship Him alone