Happy Reformation Day! – The Reformation 500 Celebration

Reformation 500 Celebration

Happy Reformation Day, TD!

If you’re asking, “Reformation? Reformation Day? What?,” then this post is for you.  500 years ago today, October 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted his now famed 95 Theses that sparked the flame that spread throughout Europe and eventually … the world.

All over the world today, there have been celebrations, tributes, TV programs, articles written, video productions broadcast, and more to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.  We invite you to watch a re-broadcast of Ligonier Ministries’ Reformation 500 Celebration to not only get a better theological and historical perspective of the Reformation, why God ordained it, it’s impact and need today, but also for needed reformation in our own lives.

In this celebration, you’ll get an animated history of the life of Martin Luther, new choral music written for the church (by RC Sproul and Jeff Lippencott), as well as terrific mini- messages (18 mins) addressing essential Reformation issues for our lives and our times.

Click above for the entire celebration or click below to watch the specific messages.  I encourage you to honor the Lord and what He did in the Reformation by watching at least one of the following videos. – Arthur

 

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Arthur’s Confession – “I’m Adopted”

Show Hope

Hey TD,

Most of you probably have never thought about me in this way … and in a way, I’m glad … but sometimes, it’s good to come back to the truth of things and to remind myself (and you) that … I’m adopted.  It’s true.  And it’s the best thing that has ever happened to me. Adoption is beautiful, life-saving, life-giving, and life-transforming.  I am proud to be adopted.

I live the life I now live, with the confidence, and empowerment, and joy, and purpose, and delight, and hope, and love, and enthusiasm, and fulfillment, and opportunity, and perspective, and blessing, and richness, and family, and friendships, and fellowship, and satisfaction, and peace, and … security … I now live with, because of one simple fact:

I’m adopted.

You see, my natural father did not teach me how to live the right way.  He taught me how to lie, cheat, steal, and live for myself.  He taught me to compete against people and get my worth from outdoing others.  He didn’t teach me to rest and be satisfied in doing my best and in empowering others to do theirs.  He didn’t teach me to know THAT was success.

Nor did he teach me the right way to view the opposite sex, with sacredness and honor.  Instead, he taught me to look at them as a means of titillation and self-gratification, like he did. He wanted me to use them, not serve them; to lust for them, not love them; to idolize them, not cherish them.

I could go on at length about my natural father, but I’d rather not.  I’m actually still working out and undoing his pervasive influence and its effects in my life.  It’s still going to take a while, but it’s happening.  My adoptive Father is making sure of that; and I love Him for that.

I could go on and on and on about my adoptive Father.  In fact, I have and I do. For hours at a time. In a group called Total Devotion. A few Fridays a month. For thirty-three years.  And I can’t stop!  There’s so much more to tell you!  He is THAT good!

Here’s how good my adoptive Father is:  He wants to offer His Fatherhood to you as well.  Here’s how impactful He’s been at my heart level: I don’t feel threatened or jealous by Him wanting to share His love with you.  In fact, I want you to experience it too!

I was introduced to my adoptive Father by my biological father, Kuo-Chen Hsieh.  I owe my biological dad so much for insisting that I go to church so I could meet my eventual adoptive Heavenly Father.  My life has literally been changed forever.

I’d love to do the same for you.  If you want to get to know my adoptive Father, I’d love to introduce you to Him.  He’s amazing.  Just let me know and I’ll arrange a time for all of us to meet!

My old life with my natural father:

“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:44

“The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.” 1John 3:8-10

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.” Eph. 2:1-3

My new life with my adoptive Father:

“And, “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” 2Cor. 6:18

“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” John 1:12-13
“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.  Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Rom. 8:14-17
“But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.” Gal. 4:4-5
I sincerely hope my real Father adopts you soon! – Arthur

Will You Help Zander Find a Family?

“… Take up the cause of the fatherless …” Isaiah 1:17

Hey TD!

You have an opportunity to fufill what God has commanded us to do … take up the cause of the fatherless!  Here’s how you can help.

Keep Zander in your mind, heart, and prayers; and then just mention him in your conversations with others, including adults, asking whether they or someone they know have ever thought about adopting a child in need of a family.  If they show an interest to hear more, let them know about Zander and refer them to the video above, where they can learn more about Zander, see his personality, and feel his warmth.

If you want to know more about Zander, contact our very own Bring Me Hope (BMH) intern, Angela, who made the video and who is advocating on Zander’s behalf to find him a “forever family.”

You can also email her at angela.hsieh@bringmehope.org.

For more information about Bring Me Hope, visit http://www.bringmehope.org.

C’mon TD! You never know what God will do when His people join together selflessly, loving Him with all we’ve got and loving our neighbor as ourselves.  If we pray and act, God could use us to help change Zander’s life forever!

In the coming weeks, we’ll highlight more children that our other BMH interns are advocating for.  Stay tuned.

How awesome would it be if we could help a few children find families to call their own this year? Let’s do our part, TD!

 

TD Fri. – UNI-versity Night. Three.

Hey TD!

Come be a part of continuing to shape TD’s history this Friday, as we host TD’s UNI-versity Night. Three., our third-ever event honing in on celebrating the diversity of gifts, talents, pursuits, interests, and passions of TD’s leaders, alumni, 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 (click on the blank flyer – the info is on it! Not sure why it doesn’t initially show up):

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.Three.

UNI-versity Night. Three. Bios

See you Friday!

One Less Orphan

Hey TD,

On Friday, I read you Isaiah 1, a passage that makes me cringe, as God reveals how He feels about people tantamount to “good Christians” that we mistaken for actually being true Christians.   He gives His solution for how to get out of that false Christianity that so often passes for real Christianity.  It’s not complicated, but it needs to be acted on.  Here it is:

“… Cease to do evil,17 Learn to do good; Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless, Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow.” Isaiah 1:16-17

As you all know, my family is in the final stages of our adoption process.  But adoption isn’t the only way to defend the orphan.  As you are in the final preparation stage before you reach adulthood, you NEED to heed the Lord and build into your life a regular and consistent ministry to the “least of these,” especially the orphaned and the widowed.  That is written all over Scripture.

At TD, we want to help you cultivate that heart and extend opportunities to obey – through your monthly contributions to our 7 sponsored orphans, participating in our monthly orphanage visits and convalescent home visits (full of widows), caring for orphans in China in the summer, becoming an orphan advocate intern (we have 4 this year, participating in V4V, etc.

” … you NEED to heed the Lord and build into your life a regular and consistent ministry to the “least of these,” especially the orphaned and the widowed. “

I found the following article interesting and helpful in cultivating  a broader perspective in this regard and hope you’ll read and glean from it. – Arthur

One Less Orphan

How Do We Keep Families Together?

Orphan care has been the topic of many conversations within the local church over the last decade. By God’s grace, many families and churches have stepped into ministries of foster care and adoption. Foster care and adoption captured our own hearts as we prayed about how we might grow our family.

Of course, like many Christians, when we thought about orphan care, we immediately thought of James 1:27, the command for Christians “to visit orphans and widows in their affliction.” Often when the topic of orphan care comes up in Christian circles, it’s not too long before this verse is on the table. Praise God that many people today are aware of, and passionate about, orphan care. But in recent years, we began to learn of situations that challenged how we had grown to apply James’s familiar command.

Bigger Than Adopting

We were foster parents to a three-month-old baby girl, excited to welcome this little one into our home and shower her with love. We changed diapers, did middle-of-the-night feedings, and adjusted our other three children around the schedule of this new addition.

“Christian orphan care is more than middle-class families welcoming children into their own homes.”

When we began to consider adopting this baby girl, however, we discovered that she had a biological grandmother living a few states away who was interested in adopting her, despite some significant financial and bureaucratic hurdles. As we began what became a yearlong process of trying to support our foster daughter moving to her grandmother’s house, we started to realize that foster care and adoption were not the only needed ministries for orphan care.

For many, the practical application of James 1:27 is to call individual couples and families to foster and adopt individual children. This is good, but it doesn’t meet every need. If James 1:27 is calling us to look after the vulnerable children suffering in our midst, it requires thinking not only about the children, but also the families and communities these children come from. It challenges us to consider not just the adopting of children, but also the reconciling of children to their original biological families when possible.

For this to happen, orphan care needs to grow in a theology that encompasses the entire gospel story. Christian orphan care reflects the major beats of this gospel — creation, sin, redemption, restoration — and the major themes of the gospel story: themes like grace, justice, reconciliation, and adoption. These major beats and themes then influence our priorities as we consider how best to care for the vulnerable children in our communities.

Mercy Upstream

A theology that includes the full biblical story will recognize that sin — and the brokenness that results from sin — operates not only at the individual level, but also at family, social, institutional, and cultural levels. If we are to be faithful in the battle against sin, it will mean making it more than just a personal fight. It will also mean marshaling our resources to confront sin at every level.

In the case of orphan care, this will mean looking upstream to the sources of sin and brokenness that lead to a child needing to be fostered or adopted. In our own situation, we found systemic challenges to getting our little girl to her grandma within a reasonable time frame.

“As much as we need to foster and adopt, we can do even more to promote biological families staying together.”

Since then we have worked with other mothers who have fulfilled all the steps necessary to have their children returned to them, only to see the courts cancel appointments due to backlogged cases. Their children languish in the system months (even years) longer than necessary. We have seen mothers handcuffed by immigration status, at risk of losing their children permanently due to the extra challenges of finding work.

Orphan care requires more than middle-class families welcoming children into our own homes. Foster care and adoption are relief work — good and beautiful relief for a child from the brokenness of this world. But orphan care will involve more than just relief. It also includes seeking restoration and equity. It involves engaging in broken child-welfare systems and looking to prevent child abuse by walking with those who are isolated and battling poverty and addictions.

Reconciliation is at the heart of the good news of the gospel — in particular reconciliation between God and the people he created. In Christ, God moves toward us in grace so that ultimately he might bring us into fellowship with him.

The fact that reconciliation is a major theme of the gospel storyline will soon make us realize that as much as we still need to foster and adopt, we can do even more to promote biological families staying together. Families reconciling and reuniting is one of the ways we “echo” the gospel and thus bear witness to the God who is reconciling an entire people to himself.

The Savior We Really Need

This side of heaven, we will always have need to foster and adopt children. But the message of the gospel also motivates the wider community of believers to go to the most broken and isolated family units and share the good news that, in Jesus, all things can be made new. It also inspires members to leverage their vocations, legal skills, and political advocacy to shed light on systems and structures within the child-welfare system that are suffering from the decay of sin, and in ways that perpetuate injustice and harm biological families.

As we built a relationship with the grandmother of our foster girl, we began to see and grieve the brokenness that came from generations of both systemic and individual sin: brokenness that led to the mess that this girl and her grandmother found themselves in, and brokenness within the government system that added unnecessary burdens to an already painful situation.

“This side of heaven, we will always have need to foster and adopt children.”

But we were also able to step into their mess and be present with them in their suffering. By God’s grace, we were able to walk with them over the course of a year, to the point where this grandmother, at long last, was able to adopt her granddaughter. One less orphan.

It can be easy to welcome foster children into our homes as though we are their saviors. But that’s not what God calls us to when he tells us to care for orphans. Instead, God calls us to point the vulnerable, the suffering, and the broken to the only Lord and Savior everyone in our world needs.

Thumb vermon dennae pierre tozrznkr

(@PastorVP) are longtime foster parents and are involved in promoting adoption and foster care initiatives. They are parents of four children. Vermon is the lead pastor of Roosevelt Community Church in Phoenix, Arizona. Dennae (@dennaepierre) is Executive Director of the Surge Network in Arizona.

TD Fri. – “Dying to Live” SG Study/mp3

“Therefore, I urge you brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”

– Romans 12:1

Hey TD,

Here’s your toolkit for this Friday’s small group study together! Download the study, listen to the message (or re-listen to specific parts of it) and spend time in prayer and prep during the week, so you can have a great small group discussion.  Use the Table of Contents to locate a certain section of the message.  Click below.

Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. – Coach John Wooden

“Dying to Live” (sg study)

“Dying to Live” (mp3) – Arthur

“Dying to Live” (mp3) Table of Contents 

“Renew” Theme Intro – 0:05

Intro to Romans – 10:30

“I urge you therefore brethren to present your bodies” – 20:45

What is a “living sacrifice”? – 30:40

**”Acceptable to God” – how we are all Stephen Paddocks** – 41:50 – 1:10:30

(video shown)

The $20 Challenge – 1:12:20

Check with your small group leader as to where and when you’ll be meeting!

TD Fri. – Frumpy Friday/Opening Message – Look Inside!

A throwback “classic” audio podcast from our first Frumpy Friday 4 years ago. Have a listen!

Hi TD,

Prolific social critic, Os Guinness, author of A Free People’s Suicide, has insightfully called America a “cut-flower civilization,” a term he uses to describe a nation that has been cut from its roots and foundations.  While a bouquet of cut flowers may appear vibrant and exquisite for a season, it isn’t long before it deteriorates and becomes ugly.

As a nation persistent in keeping God out of education and out of the public, over and over we are alarmed at the results.  TD, let us respond to the growing cacophony of what’s evil and wrong in our nation by passionately resolving to highlight the One who is Good and Right-eous, and who can bring true life and salvation to rotting and broken souls.  That’s done one person at a time through one genuine, authentic Christian at a time.

Transformed societies come from transformed people, not from those playing at or pretending to be transformed.  TD, we can’t change the world (yet), but we can change our worlds, and that’s where it starts.

Please join us on Friday as I give the opening message of our new theme, Renew: Transforming Our Lives in Christ.  

This Friday, we need you to come … frumpy.  Yep, frumpy.   Please come in ugly, frumpy clothes.  Don’t do your hair, don’t gel it, no hairspray, don’t blow dry it, don’t shave, don’t put makeup, no bows, no hair clips, no jewelry.  Wear your glasses, not your contacts.  Wear flip flops or old shoes you’d normally only wear around the house when nobody’s around.  We’ll explain at TD!

See you there! – Arthur