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!

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

“An Act of Pure Evil” – Searching for Meaning in Las Vegas

Image result for las vegas

 

Hi TD,

With heavy heart over what’s transpired, I urge you to read Dr. Al Mohler’s response to the massacre in Las Vegas.  The truth of the matter is this, if God does not exist, then there’s nothing truly wrong with what happened in Las Vegas.  We cannot, as a nation, straddle both sides of the fence, wanting our cake and eating it too.  And we cannot as Christians either … and too many of us are.  Let us pray and then let us live hard the life God wants us to live, being who God wants us to be, doing what God wants us to do; and put the world be on notice that there is a real God who will provide real salvation, and grant real victory. – Arthur

14 “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve … But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:14-15

“An Act of Pure Evil” — Searching for Meaning in Las Vegas

by R. Albert Mohler

Evil points to a necessary moral judgment made by a moral authority greater than we are — a transcendent and supernatural moral authority: God.

Today, most Americans awoke to news from Las Vegas that is nothing less than horrific. For so many in Las Vegas, Sunday night must have seemed like the night that would never end.

In the face of such overwhelming news, we naturally seek after facts. We want to know what happened, and when. We want to know who did it. By mid-morning the facts were staggering. More than fifty people are dead and hundreds wounded after a lone gunman opened fire on a music festival from a perch in a hotel room 32 floors above. The attack was deadly, diabolical, and premeditated.

The shooting is already described as the worst in American history. The gunman, believed to be Stephen Paddock, killed himself as police prepared to storm his hotel room, from which he had aimed his deadly gunfire. The facts emerged slowly, and are still emerging. Paddock had no notable criminal record. He had worked for a defense contractor, owned two private aircraft, and was known to own guns. He was reported to like Las Vegas for its gambling and entertainment. No one seems to have considered him a threat. His brother, contacted after the massacre, said that the family was beyond shock, as if “crushed by an asteroid.”

In Las Vegas and beyond, hundreds of families are crushed by grief and concern. More than fifty human beings, very much alive just hours ago, are now dead, seemingly murdered by random order.

The facts will continue to come as investigations continue. We need facts in order to steady our minds and grapple with understanding. We must have facts, and yet we can be easily overwhelmed by them. Some “facts” will not be facts at all. National Public Radio helpfully and honestly ended its news coverage of the massacre with these words: “This is a developing story. Some things that get reported by the media will later turn out to be wrong. We will focus on reports from police officials and other authorities. We will update as the situation develops.” I count that as both helpful and honest.

But the facts of who and what and where and how, still unfolding, point to the even more difficult question — why?

Why would anyone kill a fellow human being? Why launch an ambush massacre upon concertgoers listening to country music? Why premeditate a mass killing?

Was he driven by some obsession, fueled by some grievance? Was he sending a signal or political message as an act of terrorism? Is the answer psychiatric or pharmacological? Our minds crave an answer.

Why do we ask why?

We cannot help but ask why because, made in God’s image, we are moral creatures who cannot grasp or understand the world around us without moral categories. We are moral creatures inhabiting a moral universe and our moral sense of meaning is the faculty most perplexed when overwhelmed by horror and grief.

The terror group known as ISIS or the Islamic State claimed that Stephen Paddock was a “lone wolf” attacker who had recently converted to Islam. Law enforcement authorities said there is no evidence of anything related to ISIS or Islam.

Clark County (NV) Sheriff Joe Lombardo told reporters that he was not sure if the massacre was sending a message as a terror attack: “We have to establish what his motivation is first. And there’s motivating factors associated with terrorism other than a distraught person just intending to cause mass casualties.”

So far as we now know, Paddock left no note and communicated no clear message. The gunfire tells some story, but we do not yet know what the story is. We may never know.

That troubles us, and so it should. Knowing the story and determining the motivation would add rationality to our understanding, but we will never really understand.

A massacre by a lone gunman killed 32 people at Virginia Tech in 2007. Another killed 27, mostly children, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. Yet another killed 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando in 2016. We really do not fully understand any of these attacks, nor countless other outbreaks of evil around the world.

One of the main theological insights about evil is that it is so often absurd. It is ultimately inexplicable, unfathomable, and cannot be resolved by human means.

President Trump has demonstrated little interest in academic disputes over moral philosophy so he probably did not intend to wade into deep theoretical waters when he called the massacre “an act of pure evil.” But he called it right, and he expanded on his judgment. “In times such as these I know we are searching for some kind of meaning in the chaos, some kind of light in the darkness.” He went on to say: “The answers do not come easy. But we can take solace knowing that even the darkest space can be brightened by a single light, and even the most terrible despair can be illuminated by a single ray of hope.”

That is exactly how a president should speak, and underlining the “act of pure evil” as evil is exactly how a morally sane person should think. The judgment of evil here, real evil, should be beyond dispute.

Evil is a fact, too. And evil is a theological category. The secular worldview cannot use the word with coherence or sense. The acknowledgement of evil requires the affirmation of a moral judgment and a moral reality above human judgment. If we are just accidental beings in an accidental universe, nothing can really be evil. Evil points to a necessary moral judgment made by a moral authority greater than we are — a transcendent and supernatural moral authority: God.

College professors tell us that moral relativism has produced a generation of Americans who resist calling anything evil, and even deny the existence of moral facts. Justin P. McBrayer, who teaches at Fort Lewis College in Colorado, wrote in The New York Times that “many college-aged students don’t believe in moral facts.”

That’s truly frightening, but McBrayer argues that by the time students arrive at college, they have already been told over and over again that there are no moral facts — that nothing is objectively right or wrong.

Only the Christian worldview, based in the Bible, can explain why moral facts exist, and how we can know them. Only the biblical worldview explains why sinful humanity commits such horrible moral wrongs. The Christian worldview also promises that God will bring about a final act of moral judgment that will be the final word on right and wrong — as facts, not merely speculation. The Gospel of Christ points us to the only way of rescue from the fact of our own evil and guilt.

Our hearts break for the families and communities now grieving, and we pray for them and for those even now fighting for life.

It is both telling and reassuring that secular people, faced with moral horror as we see now in Las Vegas, can still speak of evil as a moral fact — even if they continue to deny moral facts in the classrooms and courtrooms. No one can deny that the horror in Las Vegas came about by an act that was evil, pure evil, and evil as a fact.

I think of the Prophet Isaiah’s words: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light, and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” [Isaiah 5:20, ESV]