TD Sat. – Serve Our Society (SOS) Saturday!

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Hey TD!

We have a great opportunity to build on Neighbor Night and Love One Another Night by befriending and hanging out with some wonderful elderly friends this Saturday.  It’ll be a feel-good time of encouragement, doing what’s right, perspective, and fun.  The residents at the Care Center are so special and rich in heart, you’re sure to be blessed.

We’ll also be visiting our friends at the orphanage and will be playing games and making crafts with them.  God’s heart is especially for the widowed and the fatherless; we have a chance to visit both this Saturday!

For the Care Center, meet at the Hsiehs’ at 9:30 a.m.

For the orphanage, meet at the Hsiehs’ at 12:30 p.m.

Let your small group leader know if you can make it!

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‘When You Feel Like a (Christian) Imposter’

Hey TD,
Do you feel like a “Christian” imposter? You know the Christian life is meant to be lived much differently than the way you’re living your life, but you don’t really know where to start in beginning to change.  You’re in a comfortable routine (aka a rut) that doesn’t really require much thought or active Christian love; but it looks “Christian” enough.  On the inside, though, you know there’s no transformation taking place.  What to do?
If this sounds like you, please read on and then reach out to your small group leader, who will discuss it with you and help walk you through the rut.  What is there to lose? – Arthur

What if you feel out of place among Christians or in church? What if we feel we don’t belong?

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This piece originally appeared on The Gospel Coalition on October 27.

 

It’s called Imposter Syndrome, and while the name might not be familiar to you, the concept behind it is sure to be. Imposter Syndrome is the haunting feeling that you can’t really do what everyone expects you to be able to do. It assumes any success you’ve experienced was an unrepeatable fluke. You’re a fraud, and any moment now everyone is going to realize that.

It’s common to experience this in our work contexts. I’m actually experiencing it right now. I’ve just been speaking at a conference where all the other speakers are people I deeply admire, people unusually gifted and able. So what am I doing here? Surely there must have been some mistake.

There’s a similar feeling that easily creeps into our Christian lives as well. We walk into church on Sunday and look around. Everyone else looks as though they belong here. They seem to have the Christian life figured out (or so we think). But Christianity doesn’t feel so natural to us. It feels far from second nature.

Holy Is Who You Are

Perhaps this applies most when we think of holiness. We hear the commands to “be holy, as your Father is holy.” We know we’re meant to live in a way that’s worthy of the gospel. Yet it feels so alien to do so. All our default settings seem lined up in the other direction. And in the fatigue we can start to think, There’s no point. This isn’t me. I’m just trying to be someone I’m not.

But natural though it might seem to think this way, it’s actually completely untrue. The Bible is, of course, deeply realistic about the continuing presence of sinful tendencies in our lives. We aren’t yet rid of our sinful nature. But that’s not all there is to say on this point. Yes, the sinful nature is still kicking around, but it’s not who we now truly are.

The key to all this is understanding our union with Christ. Being a Christian doesn’t just mean that we’ve decided to “vote Jesus” or that we admire him from afar. The most common way the New Testament describes believers is as those who are “in Christ.” We’re united to him, like a branch to a tree (John 15:1) or a body to its head (Eph. 4) or a husband to his wife (1 Cor. 6).

One of the glorious implications is that who we are now is who we are in Jesus. Listen to these startling words from Paul:

It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. The life I live I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Gal. 2:20)

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. (2 Cor. 5:17)

This means our relationship to our old self, our sinful nature, has decisively and dramatically changed—forever. So Paul can say:

Consider yourselves dead to sin and alive in Christ. (Rom. 6:11)

Sin is no longer our master. This doesn’t mean it exerts no influence over us, but that it has no authority over us. We never have to do what it says. This doesn’t mean we won’t ever sin. But it does mean that every time we do, we didn’t have to.

Sin Is Not Who You Are

Grasping this point is life-changing. Most of us will have particular besetting sins that seem so established we can’t imagine them ever going away. So when temptation comes, it says, This is who you are. This is how we roll. Stop pretending to be something you’re not. It can sound so compelling, and we can easily give up.

But here the message of the gospel is wonderfully liberating. This or that sin may well have defined our lives. Perhaps it was who we were. Even so, it’s no longer who we are.

Paul makes this point to the Christians in Corinth:

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor. 6:9–11, emphasis added)

This or that sin may well have defined our lives. Perhaps it was who we were. Even so, it’s no longer who we are.

When the New Testament calls us to holiness, it’s calling us to be who we now are. If I am who I am in Christ, then holiness—not sinfulness—is truest to who I am in the deepest core of my being. However deep sinful feelings may go, the new love and life I have in Christ goes deeper still. Sin goes against the grain of my true self; therefore, pursuing Christ is the most “true to self” I can ever be.

I write this as someone who has wrestled with homosexual temptation his whole Christian life. It defined my affections and feelings for so many years. At times it still exerts a powerful gravitational pull on my life. But while it may describe some of my temptations, it isn’t who I am. Indulging such feelings is never being true to myself as I now am in Christ.

Danger of Getting It Backward

What is most true of believers is never going to be an aspect of our sinful natures. If we get this backward, though, we’ll never feel that we have the power to live like Christ.

Attempting Christian ethics with an unchristian identity produces an unstable compound. We need to reform our identity in order to live out our ethics, or else we will give up the fight for holiness as we cling, well-meaning but deceived, to “who we really are.”

Doers, Not Hearers Only

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Hey TD,

Here’s a great reminder and charge to go and put our faith into practice in our everyday lives.

James wrote his letter to Diaspora Jews who had become Christians (1:1). As Jews living outside Jerusalem, they had developed a great appreciation for listening to the reading of the Law in the synagogues, especially because they could not attend the temple services. They considered hearing the Law to be a proper substitute for the temple sacrifices. After becoming Christians, it appears, they continued to think in the same way: to hear the Word of God in their meetings was enough for them to remain God’s people.

James, however, says to them that merely hearing the Word will not save them:

Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. (James 1:22–24)

If the people did not practice what they regularly heard in their meetings, they were deceiving themselves. “To deceive” here means to make an erroneous assessment of something and then lead someone else to error through this assessment (Col. 2:4). James’ readers were deceiving themselves by having misjudged the value of hearing the Word, as if merely listening to sermons could save them. The Word is powerful to save, and when the Word saves people, it causes them to bear the fruit of obedience. However, because they did not make this assessment, they were content with being mere hearers. They were deceiving themselves.

James exhorts them to be “doers” of the Word. Doers go forward with something, as part of what they believe. Doers obey the Word of God, putting His teachings into practice, in contrast with someone who is content at merely listening to that Word.

James introduces a comparison to explain the uselessness of hearing the Word without acting on it. There is a similarity between the mere hearers of sermons and someone who looks in the mirror and soon forgets his face. Both the mere hearer and the forgetful contemplator do nothing about what they have heard and seen. Therefore, the hearing and seeing do not result in anything. They are useless and fruitless exercises, even if done with great attention and dedication.

What is the use of hearing the Word of God if we are not corrected and encouraged to do what is right? How can we have been saved if we do not practice what we hear? Through the prophet Ezekiel, God denounced His people under the old covenant for exactly the same mistake: “They hear what you say, but they will not do it” (Ezek. 33:31–32). The Lord Jesus compared the one who hears His words and does not do them to a house without a solid foundation (Matt. 7:26). Many Christians do not so much need to learn new things but need instead to put into practice what they have already heard and learned.

TD Fri. – Student-led SG’s – “Being a Neighbor” mp3/Table of Contents

 

Hey TD!

This Friday’s meeting is a going to be an important and full one, as we unveil the upcoming Neighbor Night opportunity to help you reach and love a friend.  We’ll also spend time in student-led small groups to work through Jesus’ call for us to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Please work through last Friday’s message, “Being a Neighbor,” before our meeting.  Here is the Table of Contents:

“Being a Neighbor” (mp3) – Arthur

Table of Contents:

1:30 – 6:13            Training us to produce our best when our best is needed

6:14 – 11:30         For the prize/For the King of the Ring (engraved on CIF Championship Ring)

13:18 – 14:33       Opening Prayer

14:40 –   18:28     The best kind of love to love our neighbors with

18:36 –   24:20     The orphan spirit and the spirit of a well-adjusted child

24:50 –   27:00     Rebecca X reads Luke 10:25 – 37

27:00 – 33:25       Who qualifies to be our neighbor?

33:25 –   47:40     Jesus answers with a poignant and powerful story of compassion – a  lesson in loving our neighbors as ourselves

47:40 –   53:27     How far do we have to go in loving our neighbors?  Jesus answers.

53:27 –   58:38     Are we willing to join Jesus in being a neighbor?

58:40 – 1:11:05   We need to respond to God’s call for us – Daniel sings “Open Space”

Luke 10:25- 37

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[c]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[d]

28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[e] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Let’s do likewise.  See you Friday, TD!

TD Fri. – “Loving Our Neighbors”

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Hey TD!

We had a great February working on the Outward prong, discussing “How We Are Supposed to Live” and getting the chance to live it out during Love One Another Night.  Each small group had a very special time of spending the evening with someone special in our church.  From all accounts, it was a real blessing  – and much needed – in their lives.  One said that she hadn’t had that much fun in years.  It was also a real blessing for each of us that participated.  And that’s no surprise, because loving is fun!  It’s what we were made for, and we are at our very best when we are loving; and we all love being at our best.

This month, we begin expanding that sphere of influence as we look further outward to explore “hows, whys, and what fors” of fulfilling God’s call on our lives to reach our “neighbors.”  It starts this Friday with our study, “Loving Our Neighbors.”

Make sure you arrange your schedules to come and begin grounding yourself in learning how to live out your calling.