An Art Lesson (and more) … with Joni!!

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Hey TD!

Yesterday, Sandra, Jenny, and I had the privilege of attending Joni and Friends’ 35th Anniversary at the International Disability Center (IDC).  It was a very special time engaging and celebrating God’s amazing work with our dear friends at JAF.  (Here’s a link to the Ventura County Star newspaper story.)

But there was another reason that this was a special occasion.  Yesterday was the 47th anniversary of Joni’s diving accident at Chesapeake Bay.  In speaking with JAF President, Doug Mazza, he told us that when he prayed privately with Joni for the event yesterday morning, in her prayer she prayed something like, “There were three other places I could’ve gone that day, but I went to the beach.  Thank you, Lord, that you had me choose the beach.”  Through the years, she has run through the “what if” scenarios in her mind.  But she has arrived at the realization in her heart and soul that the beach was the best scenario, not only because of the priceless relationship she now shares with Jesus, but because of how He has used her life to be a springboard of hope in Him for hundreds of thousands of families affected by disability.

In the spirit of our “Offerings” showcase tomorrow night at TD, I’d like to share with you some exclusive video from the event that you won’t find anywhere, where Joni gives us spiritual nourishment through an art lesson.  Enjoy these short videos; and as you do, would you join me in resolving to let God be God in our lives?  He really does know what He’s doing. – Arthur

Joni’s Art Introduction on the 47th Anniversary of Her Accident:

Joni on Painting Light and Being Light:

Joni and the Knife of God’s Word:

 

“Offerings” This Friday at TD!

Offerings

Hey TD!

“Offerings,” our inaugural evening showcase of original artistic offerings for the Lord’s pleasure is THIS FRIDAY!  We encourage you to take a step of faith and give to the Lord an offering of praise from your heart.  Don’t be worried about what other people will think or self-conscious that you’re not as good at something as someone else.  It’s not about that at all.  It’s about using what God has given you (no matter how small or big) to honor Him:

Deuteronomy 16:17
Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you.

Listen to this podcast to get more details.  Then email me with what you’re going to offer.  The deadline to sign up is this Thursday! – Arthur

 

Don’t Miss the Next 2 Weeks at TD!

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This Friday, 7/25 – “The Holiness of God”

Following up on last summer’s series, “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants,” we will explore some of the titanic work of the giants of the faith we introduced you to last summer.  This week, we will watch and work through one of RC Sproul’s most catalytic messages from his titanic series, The Holiness of God.  Come and foster your awe of our awe-some God!

This Saturday, 7/26 – SPCH – meet at 9:30 at the Hsiehs’ home

convalescent home

Next Friday, 8/1 – “Offerings”

TD will be hosting its first showcase of original artistic offerings, created and offered for the Lord’s pleasure and our blessing!  (Thanks for the drawing, Melody!)  Listen to this short podcast to get the details:

Please email Arthur if you plan to partipate!

 

What if You Are Dying?

Hey TD,

The question in the heading is actually rhetorical, for in reality, every one of us IS dying.  We are one day closer to it everyday.  We ARE dying.  How would you handle a diagnosis that your dying process has been accelerated due to cancer or something similar?  That’s something Sandra and I think about a lot.  Not morbidly, mind you; but realistically.  We have both been experiencing unnatural pains or sensations in our bodies of late that have reminded us of our mortality, especially in light of the consistent and unyielding stream of funerals we’ve attended in recent years.

In Randy Alcorn’s life-changing novel, Safely Home,” the lead character (my hero), Li Quan, constantly asks, “Is this the day that I die?”  He too does not ask it morbidly; just realistically … and biblically.  It’s really a question we ought to be frequently asking.  In Luke 12, God calls out those who don’t think this way, warning them that their lives might be required of them that very night (v. 20).  A few verses later, He instructs, “Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit.  Be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks.” (vv. 35-36)

In this video, you hear how Bobbie and Robert Wolgemuth are handling Bobbie’s battle with cancer.  They are good acquaintences of ours and dear friends of Joni and Ken.  The doctors have told them there is nothing more they can do and have stopped all chemo and treatment.  Though very difficult, their lives demonstrate the truth that Jesus makes, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you.” (John 14)  I hope you’ll watch soberly, consider your life and calling, and live hard for Him this week! – Arthur

The Suffering of Forgiveness

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Hey TD,

This is a must read.  Truly forgiving someone can be one of the hardest things to do in life.  As this essay from our friend Jill Carattini of RZIM uncovers, it’s partly because there is suffering in forgiveness.  And this is at the heart of the gospel.  Please take the time to READ this and let it affect the way you live life for the Lord! – Arthur

The Suffering of Forgiveness

In four horrific months in 1994, at the urging of the Rwandan government, the poorer Hutu majority took up bayonets and machetes and committed genocide against the wealthier Tutsi minority. In the wake of this unspeakable tragedy, nearly a million people had been murdered.

In August of 2003, driven by overcrowded prisons and backlogged court systems, 50,000 genocide criminals, people who had already confessed to killing their neighbors, were released again into society. Murderers were sent back to their homes, back to neighborhoods literally destroyed at their own hands, to live beside the few surviving relatives of the very men, women, and children they killed.

With eyes still bloodshot at visions of a genocide it failed to see, the world still watches Rwanda, looking with a sense of foreboding, wondering what happens when a killer comes home; what happens when victims, widows, orphans, and murderers look each other in the eyes again; what happens when the neighbor who killed your family asks to be forgiven. For the people of Rwanda, the description of the Hebrew prophet is a reality with which they live: “And if anyone asks them, ‘What are these wounds on your chest?’ the answer will be, ‘The wounds I received in the house of my friends’” (Zechariah 13:6). How does a culture bear the wounds of genocide?

For Steven Gahigi, that question is answered in a valley of dry bones which cannot be forgotten. An Anglican clergyman who lost 142 members of his family in the Rwandan genocide, he thought he had lost the ability to forgive. Though his inability plagued him, he had no idea how to navigate through a forgiveness so costly. “I prayed until one night I saw an image of Jesus Christ on the cross…I thought of how he forgave, and I knew that I and others could also do it.”(1) Inspired by this vision, Gahigi somehow found the words to begin preaching forgiveness. He first did this in the prisons where Hutu perpetrators sat awaiting trial, and today he continues in neighborhoods where the victims of genocide live beside its perpetrators. For Gahigi, wounds received in the house of friends can only be soothed with truth-telling, restitution, interdependence, and reconciliation, all of which he finds accessible because of Christ.

In fact, the work of reconciliation that is taking place in Rwanda in lives on every side of the genocide may be difficult to describe apart from the cross of Christ. While it is true that forgiveness can be explained in therapeutic terms, that the act of forgiving is beneficial to the forgiver, and forgiveness releases the victim from the one who has wronged them, from chains of the past, and a cell of resentment; what Rwandans are facing today undoubtedly reaches far beyond this. While forgiveness is certainly a form of healing in lives changed forever by genocide, it is also very much a form of suffering. Miroslav Volf, himself familiar with horrendous violence in Croatia and Serbia, describes forgiveness as the exchange of one form of suffering for another, modeled to the world by the crucified Christ. He writes, “[I]n a world of irreversible deeds and partisan judgments redemption from the passive suffering of victimization cannot happen without the active suffering of forgiveness.”(2) For Rwandans, this is a reality well understood.

And for Christ, who extends to the world the possibility of reconciliation by embodying it, this suffering, this willingness to be broken by the very people with whom he is trying to reconcile, is the very road to healing and wholeness. “More than just the passive suffering of an innocent person,” writes Volf, “the passion of Christ is the agony of a tortured soul and a wrecked body offered as a prayer for the forgiveness of the torturers.”(3) There is no clearer picture of Zechariah’s depiction of wounds received at the house of friends than in a crucifixion ordered by an angry crowd that lauded Christ as king only hours before. And yet, it is this house of both murderous and weeping friends for which Jesus prays on the cross: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

Far from the suggestion of a moralistic god watching a world of suffering and brokenness from a distance, the costly ministry of reconciliation comes to a world of violence and victims through arms that first bore the weight of the cross. For Steven Gahigi, who facilitates the difficult dialogue now taking place in Rwanda, who helps perpetrators of genocide to build homes for their victims’ families, forgiveness is indeed a active form of suffering, but one through which Christ has paved the hopeful, surprising way of redemption. Today, wherever forgiveness is a form of suffering, Christ accompanies the broken, leading both the guilty and the victimized through valleys of dry bones and signs of a coming resurrection.

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

(1) Johann Christoph Arnold, Why Forgive? (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis books, 2010), 202.
(2) Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace (Nashville: Abingdon, 1996), 125.

Ask Your Questions!

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Hey TD!

When discussing the possiblilities for our TD theme this summer, one of the ideas brought up was getting questions from TD’ers ahead of time, then answering them during the meetings.  That way, we could be addressing questions/topics that are on your minds and hearts.  From that discussion came the idea that perhaps we ought to make short 3 – 5 minute podcasts to answer those questions instead.

So, that’s where we’re at.  If you have any questions or issues that you would like addressed, please submit them and we’ll do our best to address them!  They can be about anything! – Arthur