TD SG Initiative – Helping Orphans!

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Hey TD!

As promised, last Friday’s TD meeting was a special one. My big brother, Richard (above), came to share with us about a ministry to orphans in Africa that he is very involved with, Rafiki Foundation, in hopes of helping to give us an avenue to practice pure Christianity and to be doers of the Word, not merely hearers (James 1:22-27).

Then I shared about a ministry that my family has been getting increasingly involved with, a ministry to helping orphans find strong Christian families (particularly with deformities and disabilities in China – the unwanted ones), Show Hope.

James 1:27 confronts us this way, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”  And TD will be responding!

The boys small groups will each be sponsoring an orphan boy in Africa through Rafiki, while the girls small groups will each be sponsoring an orphan girl in China through Show Hope!

We also encourage you to take this idea to your family so they may prayerfully consider sponsoring children too!  Check out the following web sites to get more familiar with the ministries:

Rafiki Foundation

Show Hope

Here are the videos we showed on Friday:

The Eulogy Heard ‘Round the World/You Can’t Choose Family

Hey TD,

By now, you’ve undoubtedly heard of what I’m calling the “Eulogy Heard ‘Round the World.”  Of course, I’m speaking of the powerful eulogy that NBA coach, Monty Williams, gave last week at the memorial service of his wife, Ingrid (age 44), whose car was struck head on by an oncoming car that swerved over the center divider at a speed of 92 mph (in a 40 mph zone).  She left behind her husband and 5 children, ages 5 – 17.

If you haven’t seen the eulogy, you NEED to do so here.  It is an amazing testimony of God’s power and sustenance in the midst of tragedy and loss:

I cannot even fathom being in his position; and I would need all the grace God has to keep me standing.  Williams’ focus, perspective, and purpose move and motivate me to be a better Christian man.

NBA superstar, Anthony Davis, who was a former player of Williams’, had been largely silent … until today, when he posted a short first-person essay about Coach Williams, You Can’t Choose Family.  It motivates me to be a better Christian coach:

You Can’t Choose Family by Anthony Davis

You can’t choose family. Those are the people that God puts around you, to help you and to guide you. That’s why family means everything to me; family can’t be replaced. And so I’m heartbroken right now because Monty and Ingrid Williams are like a second family to me.

New Orleans is a long way from Chicago. As a 19 year old just coming into the league — living away from home in a new city, taking on the challenge of being a pro — being that far away from my support system was hard. My parents, my sisters, they would come to visit me as much as they could, of course. But even then, the team was on the road so much, different cities all the time, different people all the time, everybody wanting a little piece of you, trying to tell you about some deal they had for you. It could be really difficult.

That’s why I was blessed, really blessed, to have Monty Williams as my coach. The type of person he is, he cared about me and every member of our team more as human beings than as basketball players. And Ingrid was the same way. They opened their hearts to me. They really became like another set of parents. Anything I needed, if I needed to talk, whatever, they were there. I can’t tell you what that meant to me.

I keep thinking about how, before every home game, as soon as Monty came out on the floor, he would look up in the stands to where Ingrid and the kids were sitting and finding them there, he’d smile and wave to them. Before every single game. My prayers and my heart are with the Williams family. Because they are like my second family.

– Arthur

A New TD Small Group Initiative

Hey TD!

Tomorrow night, we will be launching a new exciting small group initiative to help us be doers of the Word, not merely hearers of it (James 1)!  Make sure you’re at TD tomorrow to catch the vision!

In the meanwhile,  how’s your memorizing of Psalm 139 going?  We need to have verses 1-12 by the end of the month.  Keep working at it!:

O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know [a]when I sit down and [b]when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.
You [c]scrutinize my [d]path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
[e]Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O Lord, You know it all.
You have enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high, I cannot attain to it.

Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in [f]Sheol, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will [g]overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,”
12 Even the darkness is not dark [h]to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You.

TD Friday – “Is Our Christianity Pure?”

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Hey TD,

I’m super excited for TD this Friday!  Joining me in working out this this vital question will be my big brother, Richard, who has been incredibly influential in my life.  I’m excited for you all to meet him!

This will also be a very special time for us at TD as we look to take an active step forward towards purifying our Christianity … with action.

Don’t miss this special evening!

– Arthur

Forced to Be Parents?

Hey TD!

One argument commonly given by those who are pro-abortion is that without abortion, people would be forced to become parents; something that no one should be forced to be, if they don’t want to or aren’t ready for that.

Our friend, Greg Koukl, responds fairly and truthfully in this video below:

“For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.”  Psalm 139:13

Are Abortion Activists Going to Boycott Doritos?

Hey TD!

Commercials airing during the Super Bowl are traditionally a big deal in America.  This is when advertisers often unveil their most provocative, funniest, cutest, most tasteless, biggest baddest commercials.  Super Bowl air time is the most expensive air time of all every year.  This year, airing a 30-second commercial cost over $5 million.

When I saw the question above posed by Focus on the Family after Super Bowl 50, I was curious as to what a high profile company like Doritos might have possibly aired that could have gotten abortion advocates upset.

After the Doritos advertisement aired, NARAL Pro-Choice America (formerly National Abortion Rights Action League) tweeted the following:

– that ad using tactic of humanizing fetuses & sexist tropes of dads as clueless & moms as uptight.

 

Now, Doritos has not ever been associated with morality or anything.  In fact, other commercials they’ve aired in the past prove this out.  And I don’t know if they were subtly making a statement or not.  But it does show the power of ultrasound technology.

As Focus’ president, Jim Daly, writes, “Once you see a child in utero, it’s impossible to deny that the child is a living human being.

It’s this wonderful reality that has led our own Option Ultrasound program to save an estimated 358,000 babies since its inception …”

In fact, take a look at this video, made entirely from ultrasound footage (no computer graphics).

 

“For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.”  Psalm 139:13

 

TD Friday – A TD Valentine’s Day

Hey TD!

We’re going to have a great time this Friday celebrating and further learning about THE greatest love we could possible possess … hands down … the love of God!

Our evening will be planned by our newest interns – Aileen, Calvin, Daniel, Judy, Katherine, and Megan!  Come see what they have planned for us!

Make sure you come dressed in red and/or pink this Friday!  We will have prizes for the best dressed in theme!  We will also have lots of yummy special red and pink refreshments!

See you on Friday!

Get ready for Offerings 4!!!

(Angela and Sandra reciting Psalm 139 during Offerings 2)

Hey TD,

During Offerings 4, on 3/11/16, we will be celebrating the goodness of God through creative, fresh, original, fun offerings of praise via music, poetry, art, recitation, reading, writing, acting, dancing (yep, I said dancing), and whatever way you want to honor the Lord!

So, please be praying about and dreaming about how you can participate in this special (and safe) night, where encouragement abounds and hearts are touched.

In the meanwhile, enjoy the recitation above of Psalm 139!

“Christianese” and Monotonous Prayers

Hey TD!

In writing on “Christianese” worship and living last week in “Let’s Stop the ‘Christianese’!”, I came across a helpful, practical article by our friend, Greg Koukl, from Stand to Reason on “A Solution to Monotonous Prayers”; in other words, “Christianese” prayers; prayers with no weight, meaning, power, or access to God.

Keep working at making your Christian lives fresh, real, and dwell-able by God.  Hope this helps!

A Solution to Monotonous Prayers” by Greg Koukl

Prayer is hard. There’s no getting around it. I know there must be saints who find it easy, but I don’t know any.

Part of the problem is monotony.  How do we avoid, as one person put it, saying the same old things about the same old things?  Recently, though, I’ve discovered an approach that has helped me immensely, and I want to pass it on to you.

In the past when I spent time with God, I’d start with prayer, then read my Bible. Now, I reverse the order and combine the two into one. I start with God’s Word, then let the words in the passage guide my prayers.  There are three different ways to “pray Scripture” that I have used.  Each is easy to employ.

Here’s the first: Pray the prayers of the Bible as if they were your own.  For years, I prayed for my family using Paul’s wonderful prayer to the Colossians found in Col. 1:9b-12.  At first I had to turn to the passage each time, but soon I knew it by heart.  Here is how I paraphrased Paul’s words for my own girls:

Lord, I pray that they may be filled with the knowledge of Your will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that they would walk in a manner worthy of You, Lord, to please You in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in their knowledge of You.  Strengthen them with all power according to Your glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience, joyously giving thanks to You, Lord.

Profound, satisfying, simple.

There are lots of prayers like this in the Bible and they’re perfect for those closest to you: children, spouse, friends, disciples.  Some are short, like 2 Thess. 3:16 (“May the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance”) or  Ps. 19:14 (“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer”). Others are longer, but exceedingly rich, like Eph. 3:16-19, Eph. 1:17-19a, and Phil. 1:9-11.

Guard against repeating these prayers mechanically, taking the life out of them.  Rather, pray the words slowly, with meaning, putting your own emotion into them.

Choose a passage and write the verse on a 3×5 card if you like, though soon you won’t need the reminder.  The words will be hidden in your heart, faithful friends ready to serve you at any moment.  Consider Col. 2:2-3, 1 Thess. 3:12-13 or 5:23, 2 Thess. 2:16-17, or Heb. 13:20-21 (also a wonderful benediction to conclude a church service).

Second, pray the content of a passage.  Pick a Psalm or a New Testament chapter and read through it slowly, talking to God about its meaning in context.  Don’t get creative; just stick with the flow of thought.  Reflect carefully on the theology as you converse with God and apply it through prayer. Pray the words, express wonder, give thanks, offer praise, confess shortcomings, ask questions.

Often you can make the whole passage your prayer.  I frequently pray Ps. 51, using David’s words as my own confession.  Sometimes at night I’ll lie in bed, slowly and silently praying the 23rd Psalm as I drift off to sleep, thinking about its wonderful truth.  The Lord is my Shepherd.  He restores my soul. Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.

Finally, read through Scripture praying about whatever thoughts come to mind that are triggered by the passage, even if they have nothing to do with the text’s intended meaning.  This is the method Donald Whitney develops in his wonderful little book, Praying the Bible.  “This isn’t reading something into the text,” he writes, but rather “using the language of the text to speak to God about what has come into your mind.”  When, for example, you read Ps. 23, you might think of others who need special shepherding from the Lord or need their souls restored.  Pray for them.

These three ways of praying Scripture are incredibly simple, and have the added bonus of taking passages you visit frequently and binding them to your heart forever.  I still pray most of the same things I used to pray for (my “list”), but I pray for them differently, often incorporating my standard requests into my scriptural prayers.

Simply put, let Scripture guide your conversation with God.  Pray 1) the prayers of Scripture, 2) the content of Scripture, or 3) your thoughts as you read Scripture.  Start right away and you’ll be surprised at the difference it makes.

greg