Happy Reformation Day!

Hey TD!

Hallelujah! It’s October 31! Of course you too are excited to celebrate … Reformation Day … right? Yup, you know it’s that time of year again, where we look back and commemorate a single event on a single day that changed the world … 499 years ago.

If you need brushing up on this day the world celebrates, then thanks to Dr. Stephen Nichols and Ligonier Ministries, I encourage you to read, listen, and prayerfully ask God for another reformation in our world, and then live out your life with Reformation courage and compassion in the name of the Reformer our world needs, Jesus Christ. – Arthur

What Is Reformation Day?

FROM Oct 31, 2016 Category: Articles

A single event on a single day changed the world. It was October 31, 1517. Brother Martin, a monk and a scholar, had struggled for years with his church, the church in Rome. He had been greatly disturbed by an unprecedented indulgence sale. The story has all the makings of a Hollywood blockbuster. Let’s meet the cast.

First, there is the young bishop—too young by church laws—Albert of Mainz. Not only was he bishop over two bishoprics, he desired an additional archbishopric over Mainz. This too was against church laws. So Albert appealed to the Pope in Rome, Leo X. From the De Medici family, Leo X greedily allowed his tastes to exceed his financial resources. Enter the artists and sculptors, Raphael and Michelangelo.

When Albert of Mainz appealed for a papal dispensation, Leo X was ready to deal. Albert, with the papal blessing, would sell indulgences for past, present, and future sins. All of this sickened the monk, Martin Luther. Can we buy our way into heaven? Luther had to speak out.

But why October 31? November 1 held a special place in the church calendar as All Soul’s Day. On November 1, 1517, a massive exhibit of newly acquired relics would be on display at Wittenberg, Luther’s home city. Pilgrims would come from all over, genuflect before the relics, and take hundreds, if not thousands, of years off time in purgatory. Luther’s soul grew even more vexed. None of this seemed right.

Martin Luther, a scholar, took quill in hand, dipped it in his inkwell and penned his 95 Theses on October 31, 1517. These were intended to spark a debate, to stir some soul-searching among his fellow brothers in the church. The 95 Theses sparked far more than a debate. The 95 Theses also revealed the church was far beyond rehabilitation. It needed a reformation. The church, and the world, would never be the same.

Tweet thisTHE CHURCH’S TRUE TREASURE IS THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST.

One of Luther’s 95 Theses simply declares, “The Church’s true treasure is the gospel of Jesus Christ.” That alone is the meaning of Reformation Day. The church had lost sight of the gospel because it had long ago papered over the pages of God’s Word with layer upon layer of tradition. Tradition always brings about systems of works, of earning your way back to God. It was true of the Pharisees, and it was true of medieval Roman Catholicism. Didn’t Christ Himself say, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light?” Reformation Day celebrates the joyful beauty of the liberating gospel of Jesus Christ.

What is Reformation Day? It is the day the light of the gospel broke forth out of darkness. It was the day that began the Protestant Reformation. It was a day that led to Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox, and may other Reformers helping the church find its way back to God’s Word as the only authority for faith and life and leading the church back to the glorious doctrines of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. It kindled the fires of missionary endeavors, it led to hymn writing and congregational singing, and it led to the centrality of the sermon and preaching for the people of God. It is the celebration of a theological, ecclesiastical, and cultural transformation.

So we celebrate Reformation Day. This day reminds us to be thankful for our past and to the Monk turned Reformer. What’s more, this day reminds us of our duty, our obligation, to keep the light of the gospel at the center of all we do.

Click here to learn more about Reformation Day in Stephen Nichols’ special episode of 5 Minutes in Church History.

Dr. Stephen J. Nichols is president of Reformation Bible College and chief academic officer for Ligonier Ministries, and teaches on the podcast 5 Minutes in Church History.

Join SOS Saturday!/No TD Fri.

Hey TD!

For our first Serve Our Society (SOS) Saturday of the year, we will be visiting the newly re-opened South Pasadena Care Center (904 Mission St., 91030) to minister to the elderly residents there. from 10 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. Meet at the Care Center at 10 a.m. and expect to return by 12:15 p.m., or around 1:30 p.m. if you plan to have lunch with the group.  This does count towards your high school service hours requirement!

We will be adding more SOS opportunities in the months to come, so stay tuned!

TD’s UNI-versity Night. One.

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Hey TD!

Come be a part of TD history this Friday, as we host TD’s UNI-versity Night. One., our first ever event honing in on celebrating the diversity of gifts, talents, pursuits, interests, and passions of TD’s leaders and students alike, with a focus on empowering that diversity in unity towards fulfilling our calling in Christ!  Breakouts will be insightful, engaging, and inspiring as we learn to see God at work in various spheres of our world.

This would be a great opportunity to invite your friends!

You will select two sessions to participate in. Check out the sessions and profs below on Cloudup.  You can download them from Cloudup to send them to your friends as well.

Check out the sessions and profs below:

 

If possible, please email us at totaldevotionmbcla@gmail.com with your two selections, so we can get an idea of room sizes needed.

Here are the pdf’s in case Cloud up doesn’t work for you:

TD’s UNI-versity Night. One. 

TD’s UNI-versity Night. One. bios

See you Friday at 7:15 p.m. for the Pre-TD Party!

The Church and Discipleship

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Hey TD,

We will be continuing our look at a key to spiritual gowth – discipleship.   When reading this article a few weeks ago, I found myself highlighting most of the article.  It’s a valuable article to read.  May we take it to heart. – Arthur

The Church and Discipleship by Jay Bauman

W hen I was fourteen years old, I had my first summer job: historical tour guide. I led tours through a well known historical site in a small, quaint town in the upper Midwest United States.

On my first day on the job, my boss handed me a large manual and said I needed to learn all of the historical facts of the site to be ready to give tours. The problem was, I didn’t have a lot of interest in learning the facts. So, I skimmed through it just to get enough basic information to start giving tours.

I ended up being a poor tour guide as a result. People started asking me questions on my tours—a lot of questions, the kinds of questions that history buffs love. What did the people eat? What did they wear? What was a typical day like? And I didn’t really know the answers, so I just started making things up. People seemed to like the answers I was giving, so I just continued on with my half-truths to pass the tours and to pass the time.

One afternoon, my boss told me that he was going to come on my tour the following morning. I was scared to death. I knew that I had been telling half-truths and didn’t know the manual. And one evening would not be enough time for me to learn everything I should have already known. I was in trouble. And since I had been lying on these tours for so long, I was confused about what was really true and what was a lie. I didn’t even know the facts anymore. In essence, I had begun lying even to myself.

The following morning, my boss went on my tour. That same day, I was fired.

Sometimes our discipleship efforts in the local church mirror this experience. Someone is converted in the context of our local church. Perhaps they even seem to have had a powerful encounter with God. We hand them our manual (a Bible), and we assume that this is sufficient for their long-term development. We don’t check in with them to see how they are doing. We don’t walk with them. As long as they are attending church services and performing their religious tasks, we assume everything is OK.

Yet, when we look a little closer, we see that they have not learned the Word, that they have not applied the Word, or even that they don’t know the Word. And often, they have begun to lie to themselves about basic truths of Scripture. They needed discipleship. But what we gave them was a service opportunity, something just to keep things running at our church. We just left them alone until something stopped working.

“But true discipleship is not just about hanging out … It’s about progressively becoming more aware of our sinfulness and of God’s holiness. It’s about the cross’s looming larger and larger in our lives as we embrace gospel truths.”

The Great Commission calls us to make disciples (Matt. 28:18–20). All power on heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus, who gives power and a call to us. Making disciples means that we embrace this call by accompanying people along their way. Some churches call this “doing life together.”

But true discipleship is not just about hanging out. True discipleship is about embracing gospel truths in the context of a biblical community that results in life change. It’s about visibly seeing sanctification in the life of a new believer. It’s about progressively becoming more aware of our sinfulness and of God’s holiness. It’s about the cross’s looming larger and larger in our lives as we embrace gospel truths.

Gospel-centered churches understand this. The true measure of a church’s success is not its size but whether it is making disciples. We have a vast problem in our churches, not only in American churches but in churches around the world. We have many “conversions” but few disciples. We have many “conversions” but few who embrace the lordship of Christ.

Sometimes, under the guise of “leadership training,” churches try to stimulate some form of holiness in new believers. Often, they teach business principles sprinkled with Scriptures that are taken out of context. But leadership training is not the same as discipleship. Many churches talk about vision, potential, and human flourishing endlessly, but it is not true discipleship unless we are teaching gospel truths about sin, confession, and repentance. It is not true discipleship unless we are leading people to the cross.

The Apostle Paul calls us to “put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). Disciple-makers understand that people need help putting on the new self.

True disciple-makers are not just interested in developing leaders, or superficial tour guides. They are interested in seeing the cross loom large in the life of a new believer. They are passionate about sanctification. They are passionate about teaching gospel truths. And the result of this kind of biblical discipleship is amazing—people and churches whose testimony truly reflects God’s character, bringing much glory to Jesus.

Rev. Jay Bauman is founding pastor of Igreja do Redentorin Rio de Janeiro and founder of the church-planting network Restore Brazil.

TD SGOD on Friday – 6:30 p.m.!

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Hey TD!

This Friday is our first SGOD (small group outing and discussion) of the year!  We’ll be meeting from 6:30 – 10 p.m. Your small group leaders will be contacting you via email with details of where to meet, what to bring, etc., so CHECK YOUR EMAIL!

FAQ

Q: How do I prepare for this Friday’s discussion?

A: Glad you asked! Here we go:

  1. Listen to last week’s opening message of our year’s theme, “Rebuild: Re-Habituating Our Life in Christ.”  Unfortunately, the sound quality isn’t great (sorry!), and you can hear the mic rubbing against Arthur’s pants sometimes (more in the beginning), but it is listen-able (though slightly annoying) and the content of the message is very important to consider as we embark on our new theme together.  The sound will be fixed next time.
  2. Here’s the link to the message: “Self Assessment in Light of Our First Love” (Rev. 2:4-5) (message) – Arthur
  3. Review and answer the small group discussion questions before SGOD and bring your answers with you on Friday.  Just do as much as you can!
  4. Here’s the link to the discussion questions: “Self Assessment in Light of Our First Love” (Rev:2:4-5) (small group questions)

Q: How do I prepare for the outing?

A: Check with your small group leader for specific details … but come as you are, but come ready to have a good time, to appreciate and support others in your small group, and to receive support.

Q: What if I haven’t been contacted or don’t know which small group I’m in?

A: Contact one of the TD leaders via email, text, fb, etc. -> or leave a comment below -> or go to the TD web site and send us a message.

 

TD This Friday – Look Inside!

Hey TD!

We’re excited for TD this Friday at my household (… well, most of us), as you’ll see in the video (incl. special guest appearance by …)  We’ve got a great TD planned this Friday, chock full of goodness! What do we have planned, you ask?

  • Well, Show Hope is coming!  Yep, Phil and Dan from Show Hope are on a West Coast tour right now with Steven Curtis Chapman, Mac Powell of Third Day, and Brandon Heath.  But they wanted to break away from the tour for a day to come visit TD!  They will be driving up Friday from San Diego to come be with us, and then will drive out to Phoenix on Saturday morning to rejoin the band for the Saturday night concert!
  • We’ll be unveiling TD’s theme for the year and I’ll be giving the opening address that will begin the process of what I believe could be a life changing year for many of you.
  • We’ll explain some of the new happenings and initiatives at TD.
  • Great worship and great fellowship, beginning with the Pre-TD Party at 7:15 p.m.!

So, make sure you come out to TD this Friday, be ready to hear from the Lord, be ready to engage with your fellow TD’ers, and be ready to have a good time!

See you Friday!

–  Arthur

Discipleship? What’s That?

discipleship-the-key-to-spiritual-growth

Hey TD!

As we begin our new theme next week, I’d like to begin prepping us with the right mindset regarding how we approach our life in Christ.

The late Dallas Willard once remarked that true discipleship is “the great omission in the great commission on the part of churches.” Unfortunately, he’s right. Some churches focus lots on evangelism, but little on discipling those they have evangelized.  At least they’re evangelizing.  Most churches neither consistently evangelize nor disciple – they run programs.  And you won’t find that prescribed in the Bible.

True followers of anyone (aka disciples) do what the person they’re following does.  That’s what it means to follow.  It means emulating and imitating another in healthy, essential, core ways.  It means receiving a baton securely from the previous runner, running, and transferring that baton securely to the next runner.  It means being a link in the chain that securely connects the links it’s connected to, not being a weak or broken link that compromises the whole chain.

In the midst of the strain, pressure, and pull being exerted on the “Christian chain” (the Christian faith through the generations), it’s not an easy task to be that kind of link.  Yet, that’s the calling of each Christian – to  receive and to pass on.  It takes focus, resolve, purpose … and a plan.  Remember, if we fail to plan, we are planning to fail.

“Before we go and MAKE disciples, we need to first BE disciples ourselves, for we cannot give what we do not have.”

We’ll be posting more thoughts on discipleship/mentoring in the coming weeks, but before we do, let’s start at the beginning.  Before we emphasize Jesus’ “go and make disciples” mandate in Matt. 28, we need to apply things in order. Before we go and MAKE disciples, we need to first BE disciples ourselves, for we cannot give what we do not have.  Before we can begin legitimately begin “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (v. 20), there must be a growing and active obedience in the life of the discipler.  And that, I believe, is what keeps the church from doing more discipleship.

I believe that there are often “noble” intentions behind people not mentoring others in Christ. People are often not really being obedient to Christ in their own lives and thus, in their consciences, they know they are not able to rightly “teach them to obey all I have commanded you” and don’t want to be hypocritical nor do a poor job.  And which one of us cannot identify with that sentiment?  Of course we can.  And it’s right in a sense.  If we are not obeying Christ in our lives, we ought not to be mentoring people to follow and obey Christ.

But I don’t think the final solution is to therefore not disciple; rather, the answer ought to be to begin the hard and disciplined work of making the necessary adjustments in our lives to actually obey and worship the Christ in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24)

If that hits home with you, TD’er, and you want to begin to really follow Christ, please reach out to one of the leaders and we will begin to try to help you head in the right direction.

If that hits home with you, TD’er, and you want to begin to really follow Christ, please reach out to one of the leaders and we will begin to try to help you head in the right direction.  And, who knows, you may very well find yourself discipling a younger believer to follow Christ in a few years, as you yourself are doing!

 “18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matt. 28:18-20

– Arthur