Arthur at the EAP – “Christianity is so exclusivistic … believe in it or go to hell. That’s not right nor fair”

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Hey TD!

I just got back from spending an amazing week in Atlanta with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) as a participant in their Emerging Apologists Program (EAP).  What a phenomenal time it was of nurturing my heart, soul, mind, and strength in the Lord and in my ministry in this world. I hope to pass on to you things I’ve learned in the future.

Part of our program was to address a pressing argument against the Christian faith, as well as to participate in an open forum-style Q&A session. The issue I addressed was “Christianity is so exclusivistic. You either believe in Christianity or go to hell. That’s neither right nor fair.” I thought you might be interested in my answer, in case you come across the same question yourself

“Why is Christianity  So Exclusivistic?” (mp3) – Arthur

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“My Experience at SOS Saturdays” by Emily Wang

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” James 1:27

Hey TD!

This Saturday at SOS Saturday, we can do just that, visit orphans and widows! We will meet to visit the care center at 9:30 a.m. and the foster home at 12:30 p.m. Reach out to a TD leader for details!

Here’s what our own Emily has to say about her experience at SOS Saturdays:

My Experience at SOS Saturdays by Emily Wang

Greetings readers of the TD blog!

To start with an introduction, my name is Emily. I am thrilled to write about my experience at the SOS Saturdays, and perhaps even encourage you to come! SOS Saturdays are volunteer opportunities that usually occur every month. However, SOS Saturdays go beyond the sphere of the school definition of volunteer work. SOS Saturdays extend to service for those in need and the spread of God’s love.

I understand there are reasons hampering some readers from coming. Personally,  I was intimidated by SOS Saturdays. Even now, it would be a lie if I did not admit to my fear. With my minimal experience in interacting with people in addition to my awkwardness in social situations, SOS Saturdays that required communication with unfamiliar people was something out of my usual cup of tea. Yet through gradual workings, I came more frequently.

Truthfully, it is difficult to pinpoint the exact reason why I decided to come to the SOS Saturdays, as there are many. One reason being the theme of metamorphosis and the renewal of a person in Christ as I learn what it means to live for God and being a Christian. Although I am aware that I am not completely transformed, SOS Saturdays give some insight regarding the topic by serving others, which we are called to do.

The second reason is the wonderful encouragement that I have received from people at TD! I am grateful to be in a pleasant atmosphere. Hence, I encourage everyone who is reading this to experience SOS Saturday for themselves if they have not already! The experience is definitely a motivation in itself. Being able to bring a sprinkle of light and love to people who might not experience it everyday is something special.

Additionally, everyone was able to engage with a variety of people. Through interactions, we learn from each other, for every individual has their own story to share. In cases in which instigation of a conversion is difficult, it is still delightful to have others for company! After all, being able to bring cheerfulness in their routine lives by being a friend or transform someone’s world is a blessing especially if the transformation is through God.

From a recent personal experience, I was able to spend time reading the Bible with a residence at the care center. At first, I was hesitant to read for the Bible was in another language. Yet when we were reading, there was a connection that broke the language barrier.

Besides the care center, a visit that had impacted me was at the Union Rescue Mission. The environment was very unfamiliar. It was a world that I had never faced, so the it created discomfort and apprehension especially with my tendency to imagine the worst outcomes for a given situation. Looking back, that day challenged my willingness in carrying out the command to serve to people in need by the necessary disposal of my horrors and uneasiness. In such ways, SOS Saturdays confronted my fears and changed me to a better person in the continual process.

Once again, I recommend every reader to come! I am grateful for your audience, and I look forward to serving together in the future! Have a lovely day, afternoon, evening, or dawn! – Emily

A Meaningful Father’s Day Video – “Fatherless to Fatherfull”

Happy Father’s Day to your fathers, TD! (Please make sure to honor them!)

I watched this video during church service this morning at Menlo Church up here in Menlo Park. I cried.

Just watching and listening to these two uber cute(!) sibling adoptees, and considering the power and truth behind what they were saying left me in tears. I don’t even think they know the full import and power of their video; but God often works through the least of these.

Enjoy and consider the love of God, your true “really” Father in your life! – Arthur

Final TD Mtg. of the Year Tonight!

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Hey TD!

It’s going to be a night full of fun and faith tonight, as we wrap up the year on a strong note! Make sure you come tonight and join in the festivities!

And keep working on memorizing Romans 12:1-15:

1Therefore 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. 2And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

      3For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.4For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, 5so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; 7if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; 8or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

      9Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. 10Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; 11not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, 13contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.

      14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 

How Evil is Tech?

 

Hey TD!

We all love and appreciate technology. Like anything that began as good, however, it’s easy to indulge and be owned by it. Was that the intention all along? Is tech as innocuous as we think? What is actually going on behind our screens? What’s the intention for us?

A while ago, my son, Nathaniel, sent this over to me. I thought it was an insightful read by New York Times Op-Ed columnist and political and cultural commentator, David Brooks. I’d be interested to know your thoughts. Feel free to comment. – Arthur

How Evil Is Tech?

Not long ago, tech was the coolest industry. Everybody wanted to work at Google, Facebook and Apple. But over the past year the mood has shifted.

Some now believe tech is like the tobacco industry — corporations that make billions of dollars peddling a destructive addiction. Some believe it is like the N.F.L. — something millions of people love, but which everybody knows leaves a trail of human wreckage in its wake.

Surely the people in tech — who generally want to make the world a better place — don’t want to go down this road. It will be interesting to see if they can take the actions necessary to prevent their companies from becoming social pariahs.

There are three main critiques of big tech.

The first is that it is destroying the young. Social media promises an end to loneliness but actually produces an increase in solitude and an intense awareness of social exclusion. Texting and other technologies give you more control over your social interactions but also lead to thinner interactions and less real engagement with the world.

As Jean Twenge has demonstrated in book and essay, since the spread of the smartphone, teens are much less likely to hang out with friends, they are less likely to date, they are less likely to work.

Eighth graders who spend 10 or more hours a week on social media are 56 percent more likely to say they are unhappy than those who spend less time. Eighth graders who are heavy users of social media increase their risk of depression by 27 percent. Teens who spend three or more hours a day on electronic devices are 35 percent more likely to have a risk factor for suicide, like making a plan for how to do it. Girls, especially hard hit, have experienced a 50 percent rise in depressive symptoms.

The second critique of the tech industry is that it is causing this addiction on purpose, to make money. Tech companies understand what causes dopamine surges in the brain and they lace their products with “hijacking techniques” that lure us in and create “compulsion loops.

Snapchat has Snapstreak, which rewards friends who snap each other every single day, thus encouraging addictive behavior. News feeds are structured as “bottomless bowls” so that one page view leads down to another and another and so on forever. Most social media sites create irregularly timed rewards; you have to check your device compulsively because you never know when a burst of social affirmation from a Facebook like may come.

The third critique is that Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook are near monopolies that use their market power to invade the private lives of their users and impose unfair conditions on content creators and smaller competitors. The political assault on this front is gaining steam. The left is attacking tech companies because they are mammoth corporations; the right is attacking them because they are culturally progressive. Tech will have few defenders on the national scene.

Obviously, the smart play would be for the tech industry to get out in front and clean up its own pollution. There are activists like Tristan Harris of Time Well Spent, who is trying to move the tech world in the right directions. There are even some good engineering responses. I use an app called Moment to track and control my phone usage.

The big breakthrough will come when tech executives clearly acknowledge the central truth: Their technologies are extremely useful for the tasks and pleasures that require shallower forms of consciousness, but they often crowd out and destroy the deeper forms of consciousness people need to thrive.

Online is a place for human contact but not intimacy. Online is a place for information but not reflection. It gives you the first stereotypical thought about a person or a situation, but it’s hard to carve out time and space for the third, 15th and 43rd thought.

Online is a place for exploration but discourages cohesion. It grabs control of your attention and scatters it across a vast range of diverting things. But we are happiest when we have brought our lives to a point, when we have focused attention and will on one thing, wholeheartedly with all our might.

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote that we take a break from the distractions of the world not as a rest to give us more strength to dive back in, but as the climax of living. “The seventh day is a palace in time which we build. It is made of soul, joy and reticence,” he said. By cutting off work and technology we enter a different state of consciousness, a different dimension of time and a different atmosphere, a “mine where the spirit’s precious metal can be found.”

Imagine if instead of claiming to offer us the best things in life, tech merely saw itself as providing efficiency devices. Its innovations can save us time on lower-level tasks so we can get offline and there experience the best things in life.

Imagine if tech pitched itself that way. That would be an amazing show of realism and, especially, humility, which these days is the ultimate and most disruptive technology.