Reminder: No TD This Week

Just a reminder that we will not be meeting for TD this week.  Go rest, enjoy yourselves in Him, and be ready to roll next Friday, February 7, as Eunice gives the message.  Please be praying for her! – Arthur

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He Gives and Takes Away …

Hello TD,

Well, in a very rare and nearly unprecedented move, the Academy rescinded the nomination for Best Song that Joni recorded, “Alone Yet Not Alone” citing campaigning that gives the “appearance of an unfair advantage.”  The song’s composer apparently “had emailed members of the branch to make them aware of his  submission during the nominations voting period.”  Now, whether that was the real reason or whether the Academy buckled to the pressure of the flak it was getting for nominating a low budget, faith-based film’s unheard of song, we may never know.  However, we do know that God got highlighted and that Joni was a faithful ambassador.

Here’s what Joni had to say about it:

During the last couple of weeks, I’ve had to occasionally pinch myself and wonder, “Is the song I recorded ‘Alone Yet Not Alone’ really up for an Oscar nomination?!” Well, it turns out that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences just rescinded its nomination. But amidst this wild roller coaster of a ride, “I will praise [the Lord] more and more. My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long” (Psalm 71:15). Aren’t you glad some things don’t change?! Like the higher plans of our wonderful, sovereign Lord :-). I am grateful that this media flurry has, no doubt, generated interest in the release of Alone yet Not Alone which will be out in theaters this June!

My Thoughts on the Oscar Decision…

While I can only imagine the disappointment of the composers of “Alone Yet Not Alone” in the rescinding of their Oscar nomination, it in no way detracts from either the song’s beauty or its message. I was humbled and honored to have been asked to sing it for the film, and was as surprised as anyone when I learned of the song’s nomination.  I am grateful for the attention the nomination brought to this worthy song and the inspirational film behind it, as well as to the ongoing work of Joni and Friends to people affected by disabilities. The decision by the Academy to rescind the nomination may well bring even further attention, and I only hope it helps to further extend the message and impact of the song.

Regarding the reasons for the nomination being rescinded, it is not my place to speculate as I have no insights into the workings of the entertainment industry.  If it were for reasons connected with the faith-based message of this film, we shouldn’t be surprised that Hollywood shuns Christ and His message.  He was shunned by weightier adversaries than those in the field of entertainment.  I was honored to be invited to sing the song and it will always be a treasured experience!

Well said, well said!  Once again, I say, “And the winner is … Joni!”

– Arthur

Prayer Requests from Joni

Hey TD!

Thanks a bunch to those of you who told me you are praying for Joni.  That touched her.  I just heard from Joni and she is asking for specific prayers from us at TD.  I promised her that we would be faithful to do so.  Will you join us in doing so?  Here’s what she writes:

Wow, Arthur, I’m so GRATEFUL for all this prayer support from you and my friends at Total Devotion!  And prayer is needed:  I just came down with a terrible head cold this morning (am leaving the IDC as soon as my meeting with the Zondervan folks is finished).  My head is stuffy, my throat is sore, my nose is running (and I sound like a Mucinex commercial).  All this to say, I need big prayer, asking God that this not descend into my chest (you know how colds can develop quickly into pneumonia when you’re a quad)! 

Please, please tell Total Devotion how grateful to God I am for their prayers.  Here’s how they can intercede…

  • That my health and strength be bolstered and these cold germs be eradicated
  • That God will give me His words and His wisdom with all these many interviews lining up, both Christian and secular.  I want to keep pointing people to the God of the Bible!
  • That the Lord will cover Ken and me with His protection – after watching just 10 minutes of the Grammys on Sunday evening, it is abundantly clear that there are huge dark, spiritual strongholds that grip the minds and hearts of Hollywood people.  In other words, Ken and I feel like there is a bigger target on our back now.  So ask God to give protection, humility, focus on Jesus, and a prayerful spirit!  (The National Day of Prayer this year is going to focus on the entertainment industry; what a wonderful coincidence)!

Thanks for all your interest and support in this Oscar rollercoaster.  Many blessings, dear friend, and love to your family…

Joni

“The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much” (James 5:16)  If you are a Christian, Christ’s righteousness is yours.  That makes you righteous!  And that makes your prayers effective.  So, would you please pray earnestly and become a tangible part of the work God is doing through this nomination?  Thank you! – Arthur

And the Winner is …

Hey TD!  Well, in a few a months, the world will be watching the Acadamey Awards show (aka The Oscars), the entertainment world’s biggest night.  “And the winner is …” will be said over and over again.   Well, one incredible David vs. Goliath story is in the category of Best Song.  Out of the blue, an unknown, unheralded song (with under 4,000 Youtube views) from an unheard of Christian movie received one of the five nominations for best song.  The song “Alone Yet Not Alone” (from the movie of the same name) has Hollywood up in arms.  Passed over are songs sung by the likes of Taylor Swift, Coldplay, Beyonce, and Jay Z.

What’s even crazier is that the song is sung by a singer who has never been professionally trained, who has only 51% lung capacity, and who is a … quadriplegic.  You guessed it.  The singer is none other than our beloved Joni Eareckson Tada!

And what has been happening since last week’s nomination?  A floodgate of national write ups, interview requests, television news stories, and other opportunities to give testimony to the God who will never truly leave His children alone.  The interviews are giving Joni a chance to discuss things like Christianity, suffering, and sin with the secular world.  And Joni is being faithful.

We’ve been in communication with Joni and she needs our fervent prayers and requests them from us.  Would you please be in prayer for Joni during this time, so she can fulfill and carry out what God has intended through this unlikely nomination?  Thank you!

And whether the song wins or not really isn’t the issue.  The victory has already been won.  And the winner is … Joni Eareckson Tada!

Here is the video of the song itself, followed by a link to a GREAT interview/story done on ABC7 News:

ABC7 story on Joni’s Oscar Nominated Song

The Deadliest Sin

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Hey TD!

What sins are you battling in your life right now?  That’s not even really the right question, for there’s only one real over-arching sin: defiance of God and His authority over us.  However, there are many expressions of that sin.  And that may be the more precise question.  Which expressions of defiance of God are you battling with now?  They come in all shapes and sizes.

In this latest episode of the TD Commotion (our shorter topical podcasts), there is one in particular that Eunice wants to talk to you about that may well be at the root of many of your sinful expressions. Some call it … the deadliest sin.  It’s worth the 4 minutes!  Please listen and consider. – Arthur

The Deadliest Sin

Dear “Daddy” in Seat 16C

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Hey TD! You know, opportunities abound on a daily basis for us to allow God’s goodness, kindness, and tender care for His creation to be communicated and tangibly felt through us.  We are to be channels of displaying Him.  He could display Himself any way He wants, but one of His primary avenues of displaying His perfection is through us broken and imperfect vessels – jars of clay as 2 Corinthians 4 terms it.

Jars of clay.  How fitting.  Jars are designed to hold and contain something of value that is to be used and poured out.  Clay is brittle and fragile and must be handled with care.  That about sums us up doesn’t, it?  As humbling as it may be to hear that we are merely receptacles to dispense God’s grace, and not the grace itself, it is a fact that we need to embrace.  We exist to display God, and when we do, it engenders a hope and faith that the world desperately needs to experience.

Here is an open letter that was posted from a mother to a man she doesn’t even know, thanking him for the way he treated her 3-year old daughter with autism on the airplane.  The letter found its way to him and they reconnected.  It’s moving.  I don’t know if the “Daddy” in seat 16C was a Christian, but God used him to show His tender love.  Let’s do the same! – Arthur

Dear “Daddy,”

I don’t know your name, but Kate called you “daddy” for the entire flight last week and you kindly never corrected her. In fact, you didn’t even flinch as you could probably tell that she was not confusing you with her own “daddy,” but instead making a judgment regarding your level of “safety” for her. If she calls you “daddy” then you better believe she thinks you are alright.

I sat Kate, my 3-year-old who has autism, in the middle seat knowing full well that there would be a stranger sitting next to her for the duration of this flight. I had to make a quick decision and based on her obsession with opening and closing the window shade, I figured she might be less of a distraction if she sat in the middle. I watched the entire Temple basketball team board the plane, and wondered if one of these giants might sit by Kate. They all moved toward the back. She would have liked that, she would have made some observations that I would have had to deal with, but she would have liked those players. I watched many Grandmotherly women board and hoped for one to take the seat but they walked on by. For a fleeting moment I thought we might have a free seat beside us, and then you walked up and sat down with your briefcase and your important documents and I had a vision of Kate pouring her water all over your multi-million dollar contracts, or house deeds, or whatever it was you held. The moment you sat down, Kate started to rub your arm. Your jacket was soft and she liked the feel of it.  You smiled at her and she said:  “Hi, Daddy, that’s my mom.” Then she had you.

You could have shifted uncomfortably in your seat. You could have ignored her. You could have given me that “smile” that I despise because it means; “manage your child please.” You did none of that. You engaged Kate in conversation and you asked her questions about her turtles. She could never really answer your questions but she was so enamored with you that she kept eye contact and joint attention on the items you were asking her about. I watched and smiled. I made a few polite offers to distract her, but you would have none of it.

Kate: (Upon noticing you had an iPad)  Is dis Daddy’s puduter?

You: This is my iPad. Would you like to see it?

Kate: To me?????? (I know she thought you were offering it to her to keep)

Me: Look with your eyes, Kate. That is not yours.

Kate: Dat’s nice!

You: (Upon noticing that Kate had an iPad)  I like your computer, too.  It has a nice purple case.

Kate: Daddy wanna be a bad guy? (She offered shredder to you and that, my friend, is high praise)

You: Cool.

The interaction went on and on and you never once seemed annoyed. She gave you some moments of peace while she played with her Anna and Elsa dolls. Kind of her to save you from playing Barbies, but I bet you wouldn’t have minded a bit.  I bet you have little girls, too.

Not long before we landed Kate had reached her limit. She screamed to have her seatbelt off, she screamed for me to open the plane door and she cried repeating, “Plane is cwosed (closed)” over and over. You tried to redirect her attention to her toys.  She was already too far gone at this point, but the fact that you tried to help your new little friend made me emotional.

In case you are wondering, she was fine the moment we stepped off the plane. Thank you for letting us go ahead of you. She was feeling overwhelmed and escaping the plane and a big, long hug was all she needed.

So, thank you. Thank you for not making me repeat those awful apologetic sentences that I so often say in public. Thank you for entertaining Kate so much that she had her most successful plane ride, yet. And, thank you for putting your papers away and playing turtles with our girl.

This post originally appeared on Go Team Kate.

Get the “Fighting For God’s Absolute Best” Bible Study Here!

Hello TD’ers!

Fighting for God’s absolute best isn’t just a message title.  It is what biblical Christianity is.  It’s what we are obligated to do if we wear the title “Christian.”  Will you commit to fight to give God your absolute best this week?

Jenny has written up a very powerful Bible study for us!  But its power can only be unleashed if we spend the time to actually work on it, wrestle with it, and engage with the living God.  If we do, though, our lives will experience great impact and our small group time this Friday will be really meaningful.  It’s one of those studies that needs us to think upon it and work upon it all week, not just for an hour.

PLEASE give God a chance to rock you!  Please prayerfully work on the study each day this week and give God your absolute BEST!  Just click below to download the study and to listen to the message again.  See you all prepped and prayed up on Friday! – Arthur

“Fighting For God’s Absolute Best” (Bible Study)

“Fighting For God’s Absolute Best” (message) – Jenny