What is Shaping You?

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Hi TD!

As a follow-up to Sandra’s insightful lesson last week, The Power of Sub-Conscious Liturgies, here is an article by author Nancy Guthrie that explores what it is that actually gives us our true inner-man shape.  It’s an important read for us as so many of us are being trained on how to portray and show a certain spiritual shape that is quite different from the shape we’re actually in.  We’ve got to go to the 90% of us that is below the surface and work on the shape down there.  It will eventually and inevitably show up in the 10% above the surface.  Please read and take action. – Arthur

What Is Shaping You?

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There’s a section in department stores these days called “shapewear.” It’s in both women’s and men’s clothing. These stores are banking on our concern with the shape of our bodies and our willingness to invest in garments that promise to give us the shape we’re looking for.

But when we read Paul’s letter to the church in Rome, we discover it’s not what is shaping our bodies that he is most concerned about. He’s concerned about what is shaping our perspective, our priorities, our pursuits, and our opinions. He writes:

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Rom. 12:2)

His words force us to ask ourselves: What external forces are shaping my internal dialogue about what matters? What pressures me to make the choices I am making about how I spend my money, my time, and my energies? Am I self-aware enough to know?

Ever since we were born into this world, it has been working to press us into its mold.

Of course, we don’t like to think of ourselves as this impressionable. We like to think we are independent in our thinking. But the truth is, we are such products of the environment we live in that we often don’t recognize what is pressing in on us. Or perhaps we don’t feel the pressure because we simply give in to it. It makes no sense to Paul, however, for the lives of those who have been called and foreknown and predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son instead to be conformed to this world.

Instead of being conformed, Paul instructs us to be transformed. There’s a contrast here between something pressing in on us from the outside that causes us to be conformed and something taking place on the inside that causes us to be transformed. Where inside is this taking place? In our minds. And what is happening in our minds? They are being renewed. There’s a renovation project going on.

Have you ever renovated anything? The word used by Paul for the “renewal” of our minds literally means “to renovate”—to rip out the old and put in the new. The one doing the renovation work is the Holy Spirit. But there is something here for us to do. The tool the Holy Spirit uses is the Word. This means we must bring ourselves under the influence of the Word.

In his book Growing Your Faith, the late Jerry Bridges explains this process as similar to what we tell our son when he comes in from playing on the dirt pile: “Go take a shower.” It is the soap and water that will wash away the sweat and the dirt. But Tommy must bring himself under their cleansing action to become clean. So we say to him, “Go take a shower.”

Likewise, when Paul says to us: “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” he’s instructing us to bring ourselves under the transforming influence of the Word of God. As the Word of God pours over us, the Spirit will use it to accomplish its cleansing, renewing, renovating work in our minds. Our minds will begin to work correctly. Our thoughts will align more closely to God’s thoughts. Our way of valuing things will align more closely to the way God values things. In this way, we will grow in our ability to know what God wants.

We won’t need to wait for some extrabiblical, supernatural word from God to be spoken into our subconscious thoughts to know what to do. We’ll be able to discern the wise course of action. God doesn’t decide for us and then transmit His decisions to us. Like a good father, He is teaching us to discern what is good and acceptable and perfect. How? He is renewing our minds as we come under His Word. He is giving us the mind of Christ.

The world around us is trying to press us into its highly individualistic mold. But the Word is transforming us into people whose identity flows out of being a bondservant to Jesus Christ and no longer a slave to our own independence or self-fulfillment.

The world around us is trying to press us into its consumer mold. Its advertising seeks to convince us that we cannot be content without whatever it’s selling. But the Word is transforming us into people who can say, “I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

The world around us is trying to press us into its mold of thinking the goal of this life is comfort and security. But the Word of God is renewing our minds so that we have very different aspirations from simply a comfortable life with a comfortable retirement. We want to expend ourselves for the gospel until the day we die. We so deeply believe that our heavenly Father is taking care of us and has secured a future for us in which we will gain everything, we just aren’t so concerned about losing out here. We are pressing on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

The world around us seeks to press us into its mold. And we can simply relent. We can be shaped by the world around us. But we don’t have to be. We can resist. We can be shaped by the Word of God. As we take it in, think it through, and live it out, it is going to change us in profound and pleasant ways. We’re going to increasingly know how to live in the world around us.

Nancy Guthrie

Nancy Guthrie is an author, conference speaker, and Bible teacher. She is author of The One Year Praying through the Bible for Your Kids, What Grieving People Wish You Knew about What Really Helps (and What Really Hurts), and the Bible study series The Promised One.

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TD Fri. – “The Power of Sub-Conscious Liturgies”

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” We unconsciously learn to love rival kingdoms because we don’t realize we are participating in rival liturgies.” – James K.A. Smith

Hey TD!

This Friday will be our only Bible study in April. I sure hope you can make it out as Sandra leads us into a look into our subconscious lives; the place it is said to hold the power over our lives.

Come ready to take a look inside, and to consider why it is you do what you day and act the way you act.   You may be surprised.  In the end, we want to learn how God can hold not only our conscious convictions and beliefs, but our everyday lives as well.

It’s going to be an insightful time together. – Arthur

What Did Jesus Do On Saturday?

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Safely Home by Ron Dicianni

Hey TD!

Most of you recognize this painting as the one that hangs in my dining room.  It’s done by renowned artist, Ron Dicianni, and is part of a trilogy that includes a powerful song by Steve Green and a life-impacting novel by Randy Alcorn (if you haven’t read it, ask a TD leader to borrow a copy.  It will impact your life.)

On this “Easter Saturday,” Ron sent his constituents and email giving us his thoughts on what Christ did on Saturday.  I’ve included excerpts below to help you continue to draw on Easter power today.

Below his devotional thoughts are thoughts from Ron the Christian, who ministers through his art.  Enjoy.  – Arthur

———–

I have a question. We know Christ died on Good Friday, and we know he was raised to Life on Easter, but what happened in between?

As we recapture what Easter really means, I want to walk with you through a few truths that sometimes fall through the cracks.

The Bible tells us that, contrary to what some might think, Jesus did not just lay there in the grave and count sheep. In fact, the Bible tells us that He descended into Hades and took the keys of Death and Hell from Satan. That’s what I tried to capture in my painting He Holds the Keys.

Nor did Christ stop there, the Bible says that He led out those who had been held captive. I don’t know what that looks like – but someday I would love to try to paint the picture!

My point is that for us, this Saturday kind of falls through the cracks. Easter is tomorrow, Good Friday was yesterday, so what do we do today?

All I can offer you is my practice…

On Good Friday I remember the sorrow of what took place when Jesus paid our debt, On Sunday I remember (and rejoice!) that the grave could not hold Him, and in between I remember that He took the keys of hell and death away from Satan, to use them to free us…forever!

Scripture tells us that the sting of death was sin and that the power of sin was the law. Elsewhere we are told that the law brings death. That we all, because of the sins we talked about in yesterday’s email, were under a death sentence. But what did Christ do? He went and took the keys of death and hell away from Satan. No longer can we be terrorized by fear of death or hell! Christ didn’t just take the judgement away, He took away any hold, any claim Satan had against us!

People tell me all the time they are haunted by the sins of their past. No more let fear make you tremble! In God’s sight you are white as snow. What does the Bible say, perfect love drives out fear! And where else but on the Cross did we see more clearly God’s perfect love – for us! Our accuser has been cast down and no longer has power over us. No longer let doubt scream that you are the accused. And no need to ever again replay the video in our heads that the only side of Easter is the pain Jesus bore. We can, and must, dwell on the victorious side of Easter when we celebrate what no other person, religion or philosophy could do…conquer the grave, and set us, the prisoners free!

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People ask me often, where I get my inspiration and my answer is “I open my Bible”. Rather than preach at you… “Pray for your family”! I painted Spiritual Warfare and A Mother’s Love. Rather than tell you… “Jesus Loves you and the Cross is the measure of His love“, I painted Salvation. Rather than just pat you on the head and say and “l’ll pray for you”, I painted Divine Healing to remind you that you can still reach out and touch the hem of His garment. And rather than merely say “There, there, He knows” I painted one of my most personally meaningful works, In the Wilderness. And many, many more.

I am blessed that God has used my paintings – in fact they are more correctly His paintings – so far beyond what I could have ever imagined. From princes and presidents to teachers and fireman to pastors and the unemployed, God truly has sent His Word out in visual form and the results have been a harvest beyond my anything I could have made happen. I truly believe, and have dedicated my career to the truth, that if you surround yourself with the Message of Christ in your Life, that it will bear dividends, in His providence, beyond what you can imagine.

And just by reading this, you are a part of that story. Thank you.

In Him,

Something to Consider on Good Friday

Hey TD!

Blessed Good Friday to you. Have you ever wondered why it’s called Good Friday? There are reasons people have offered: that what God was doing was ultimately good, or that it was really God Friday and morphed into Good Friday, etc. One answer that seems quite plausible is that the word good used to mean holy; so, Holy Friday was more the idea than the usual meaning we ascribe to the word good. 

On this Holy Friday (holy means set apart), please take extra time to commune and relate with our Lord, in remembrance, in appreciation and thanksgiving, in prayer, in meditation and contemplation.  Fill your senses and faculties and imagination with Him. Make it all about Jesus.

Below is a Slice of Infinity by our friend, Jill Carattini, that will give you something to consider this Good Friday.  Blessings – Arthur

The Absence of Beauty

Posted by Jill Carattini on April 14, 2017
Topic: A Slice of Infinity

I stood in front of the painting long enough that my neck hurt from craning upward, long enough to make the connection that onlookers that day likely held a similar stance as they watched Jesus of Nazareth on the cross. Francisco de Zurbarán’s massive 1627 painting The Crucifixion hangs in gallery 211 of the Chicago Art Institute. Viewers must stand back from the piece and gaze upward in order to take it all in. Zurbarán depicts the point just before Christ takes his last breath. His body leans forward from exhaustion; his head hangs downward. All details of any background activity are absent, the black backdrop a jarring juxtaposition beside his pale, bruised skin. The artist’s use of light intensifies the stark pull of sympathy towards a body that is both clearly suffering and yet somehow beautiful. At the time, I wasn’t sure what I believed about Christianity. But there was something about the painting I couldn’t stop trying to grasp.

There is indeed something about beauty that for many of us is intensely spiritual. Whether peering into the natural beauty of a majestic waterfall or the exquisite lights of the Eiffel Tower, many describe a connection between beauty and the transcendent in religious terms—at times, even contradictingly so, our own theories of the world either undercutting or cutting off the very possibilities we want to espouse. For many of the minds I admire today, beauty is both a compelling part of their faith and compelling evidence for God’s existence. A blind and mechanistic universe cannot answer for the longings stirred by earthly beauty. Stated more personally, I could not account for the longings stirred by the beauty of a suffering God in person. Staring at Jesus in The Crucifixion, I could not explain the quality of beauty that seemed distinctive of his very soul—choosing even in pain and death to forgive tirelessly, though surrounded by people who do not. As a hen uses her wings to gather her chicks, there are indeed times I suspect the Spirit uses beauty to bring us quietly before the Son.

There are also times when the opposite is true and it is the absence of beauty that leaves us scattered and scurrying, aware and afraid, and longing for the shelter of divine wings. Good Friday offers such an occasion. In Christian churches all over the world yesterday, the last moments of Jesus were remembered and reenacted in various ways. In his final moments before he would be tortured and killed, he shared the Passover meal with his closest friends. He washed his disciples’ feet and he tried to comfort them, though death no doubt loomed with suffocating force. In some services, following a foot washing ceremony or a last celebration of the Lord’s Supper before Good Friday, a ceremony called theStripping of the Altar concludes the worship service.

I was privileged to participate in such a service one year at King’s College Chapel, the stunning cathedral built by Henry VI in 1446. With a deafening silence that amplified the sense of heaviness at the approach of the crucifixion, objects were removed piece by piece from the altar: communion chalice and plate, the altar cross, the holy Bible, the altar candles, the liturgical coverings. As the altar was slowly stripped to a stark table, the dramatic Tudor glass windows were simultaneously growing dark as the sun set. I was struck with the impending sense of death. What happened next unexpectedly heightened that sense. Behind the altar, a massive painting by the artist Peter Paul Rubens portrays Jesus as an infant in Mary’s arms; the magi are gathered around in adoration, leaning toward the child expectantly. The sound of the painting being shut was jarring; the echo sounded like the closing of a tomb.

But it was the image of the baby suddenly and jarringly absent, beauty extinguished, that finally compelled tears. As the congregation exited in silence, I left thinking about the crucifixion in way I hadn’t before. I left with the disquieting thought of God’s absence—a Son crucified, a mother mourning, a world without Christ.

In his famed Nobel Prize acceptance speech Alexandr Solzhenitsyn eloquently hoped aloud that when the day comes that truth and goodness are crushed, cut down, not allowed through cultures and minds, then perhaps the fantastic, unpredictable, unexpected stems of beauty will push through and soar to that very same place.(1) Today, on this Good Friday, it is the absence of Christ, the death of truth and goodness and beauty himself, that pushes through, pleading with a noisy world to stop and listen to the deafening silence, which just moments earlier heard him plead: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

 

 

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

 

(1) Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, Nobel Lecture in Literature 1970, from Nobel Lectures, Literature 1968-1980, Editor-in-Charge Tore Frängsmyr, Editor Sture Allén, (Singapore: World Scientific Publishing Co.: 1993).

 

Congrats 2017 Youth Speakers!

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2017 MBCLA Youth Speakers Team

(Back Row) Jay, Jaden, Evan, Daniel, Josh, Arthur
(Middle Row) Abigail, Katherine, Judy, Abigail, Clara, Rebecca, Sandra, Michelle
(Front Row) Harmony, Megan, Ashley, Angela (exhibition speaker)  (not pictured: Josh, Sissi)

Well, once again, God came through and changed minds, perspectives, and lives through the CA So. Baptist Youth Speakers Tournament process.  With two weeks less of preparation than usual, and a younger team than usual, neither coaches nor speakers were really sure they would be able to be ready in time for the tournament.  With a couple of speakers dropping out in the early weeks, a couple of more on the verge of dropping out halfway through, and coaches experiencing discouragement, the morale of the team was shaky.  But through prayer and perseverance, late nights, group chats, one-on-one conversations into the wee hours of the morning, Saturday practices, the team began turning the corner and began to build camaraderie, a team spirit, and a genuine enthusiasm and support for one another.  To say this was a 2 1/2 month spiritual boot camp would not be an overstatement.  There were tears, self-analysis, conviction, Aha! moments, humbling, encouragement, overcoming fear, understanding the gospel for the first time, surrendering to Christ, personal “demons” being slain.  You name it.  But the rewards of spiritual freedom and empowerment in Christ were well worth it.

In the end, true victories were had all the way around, and that’s what really matters. God moved. God slew. God held on. God embraced. God empowered. That’s what He does through the “Speakers Process” and this year proved no different.

We are extremely proud of each speaker and for what each of them had to overcome to complete this process.  You are true winners.  And sadly, we say goodbye to our seniors, Joshua Chang, Joshua Chuang, and Harmony Hung, who provided great leadership for our team this year.  You will be missed.

2017 CA So. Baptist Youth Speakers Tournament

As far as the actual Youth Speakers Tournament results, we’d like to congratulate Josh Chang and Michelle Chen for winning their respective tracks!  They are the latest in a long line 20170408_113941 of MBCLA Youth Speakers Tournament winners that will be charged to steward their entrustments well:

One track only:

2006: Kathy Hung (12th)
2007: Christine Winarko (12th)
______  Runner-up: Eunice Im (12th)
2009: Nathaniel Hsieh (10th)
______  Runner-up: Vincent Puu (10th)
2010: Clara Wong (12th)
______  Runner-up: Randall Hsieh (10th)

Two tracks:

2011: Isabel Shen (12th)
2013:       Runner-up: Daniel Hsieh (10th)
_______  Runner-up: Harvey Gan (12th)
2014: Daniel Hsieh (11th)
____  Joseph Chang (12th)
____  Alexandra Tagami (11th)
2015: Megan Lee (12th)
______   Runner-up: Aileen Wei (12th)
______   Runner-up: Judy Wu (12th)
____  Andrew Shi (12th)
______  Runner-up: Joshua Chang (10th)
2016: Angela Hsieh (10th)
2017: Joshua Chang (12th)
____  Michelle Chen (11th)

Join TD for Performing Arts Show this Sat., 4/8 – RSVP!

Hey TD!

Last year, after going to Maranatha HS’s Performing Arts Chapel, I texted TD’s leaders suggesting we cancel our regular TD meeting to go see “Beauty in Brokenness.”  They agreed to give it a try.  TD went and was blessed, moved, and touched by the theme, the beauty, and artistry of fellow high schoolers really putting out to the glory of God.

Well, Sandra and I went to the Performing Arts Chapel again today, and, once again, my heart was moved.  We both had tears in our eyes.  So, once again, I texted the leaders and asked them if they’d like to go again with TD.  They agreed.  What’s great is that this year, there is a Saturday night performance for us to go to!

So, we’d like to invite you to join us at the world-renowned Ambassador Auditorium on the Maranatha campus for an evening of revisiting the stories that have touched us; but this time through the creative arts.

“Join the MHS Performing Arts Department this Spring as we bring the wonder and joy of childhood stories to the Ambassador stage. Stories come in many forms and provide a unique connection to memories, personal/spiritual growth, and remind us what it looks like to live without fear and doubt. With the creative collaboration of dance, choir, and orchestra, this show will take you on a journey that you won’t want to miss!”

Please let your small group leader know … NOW … if you can make it! I will be purchasing group tickets on Friday.

If you can meet at Maranatha at 6:30 p.m., that would be great since car space is limited.  But if you need a ride, we’ll try to find you one! – Arthur

 

 

TD’s UNI-versity Night. Two.

Hey TD!

Come be a part of continuing TD history this Friday, as we host TD’s UNI-versity Night. Two., our second-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. Two.

TD’s UNI-versity Night. Two. bios

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