TD Fri. – Summertime Faith and Fun

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Hey TD!

We’ll be having a summertime night of growing our faith and having some fun together! And it all starts at 7:15 p.m. with the TD Pre-Party! See you there!

 

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In Critical Care

Carattini

Hey TD!

Here’s an insightful piece from our friend, RZIM’s Jill Carattini, managing editor of A Slice of Infinity. In classic Jill fashion, she shows us the eternal in our everyday lives. Enjoy! – Arthur

In Critical Care

by Jill Carattini

The “doorknob phenomenon” is an occurrence many physicians know well. Doctors can proceed meticulously through complete examinations and medical histories, taking care to hear a patient’s questions and concerns, but it is often in the last thirty seconds of the appointment that the most helpful information is revealed. When a doctor’s hand is on the doorknob, body halfway out the door, vital inquiries are often made; when a patient is nearly outside the office, crucial information is shared almost in passing. Many have speculated as to the reasons behind the doorknob phenomenon (which is perhaps not limited to the field of medicine), though a cure seems unlikely. Until then, words uttered on the threshold remain a valuable entity to the physician.

If I can speak on behalf of patients (perhaps I’ve been a perpetrator of the phenomenon myself), I would note that the doorway marks our last chance to be heard. Whatever the reason for not speaking up until that point—fear, discomfort, shame, denial—we know the criticalness of that moment. In thirty seconds, we will no longer be in the presence of one who might offer healing or hope or change. At the threshold between doctor’s office and daily life, the right words are imperative; time is of the essence.

One of the many names for God used by the writers of the Bible is the Great Physician. It is curious to think of how the doorknob phenomenon might apply. Perhaps there are times in prayer when the prayer feels as if we are moving down sterile lists of conditions and information. Work. Finances. Mom. Jack. Future. Of course, while bringing to God in prayer a laundry list of concerns with repeated perseverance is at times both necessary and helpful, perhaps there are also times when we have silenced the greater diagnosis with the words we have chosen to leave unspoken. Can a physician heal wounds we will not show, symptoms we will not mention?

Rembrandt, Beggars on the Doorstep of a House, 1648.

Thankfully, yes. The Great Physician can heal wounds one cannot even articulate. Scripture writers speak of a God who hears even our groanings too deep for words. On the other hand, choosing to leave out certain details is hardly helpful before any doctor. Can God begin the work that needs to be done if we won’t really come near as a patient? Is there a cure for those who do not seek it? Mercifully, there is a physician who seeks us.

The ancient prophet Jeremiah once cried, “Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? No healing for the wound of my people?” Jeremiah lived during one of the most troublesome periods of Hebrew history. He stood on the threshold between a people sick with rebellion and despair and the great Physician to whom they refused to cry out in honesty.

“I have listened attentively,” the LORD declared, “but they do not say what is right. No one repents of his wickedness, saying, ‘What have I done?’ Each pursues his own course like a horse charging into battle.”(1) His words describe behavior a doctor likely recognizes. A patient who complains of a cough while a fatal wound is bleeding will neither find respite for the cough nor her unspoken pain, and of course, a good physician would not treat the cough until the bleeding has been stopped.

In Jeremiah’s day, as in our own, the promise of a quick and effortless remedy was cunningly presented in many ways. Of these “prophets of deceit” God declared, “They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace.”(2) There are some promises that are quite easy to stand beside but crumble under the weight of us. To stand in honesty before a physician is more difficult. To stand in honesty with the greatest of Physicians is to submit to a kindness that may undo us. It is to ask to be made well, to be made new, to be made truly human by the Son with human hands, knowing that the way to my remedy rests in his own wounded hands.

The great Christmas hymn places before us this powerful resolution:

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground
He comes to make His blessing flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found.(3)

The woundedness of humanity is serious: cries of injustice, the wounds of racism, despair and lament at cancers around us, the devastating marks of our own failings left shamefully upon others and ourselves. This cannot be bandaged as anything less than a mortal wound. But the threshold is now. Christ comes near. He weeps with us, ready to address the indications of our illness, imparting healing and kindness. In the coming of Christ, God offers a cure extending as far as the wound can ever fester.

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

(1) Jeremiah 8:6.
(2) Jeremiah 8:11.
(3) Isaac Watts, Joy to the World, 1719.

Are We Eating “Processed Religion”?

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That’s a good point, isn’t it, TD?

Yet, that seems to be something we are fighting each other about.  “TD is too intense, too long, too deep” et al are the cries of those who want TD studies to be lighter, simpler, and more bite-sized for easier consumption. But is that really what God wants from us? Is that what’s going to help get you through high school growing spiritually stronger each year? This is something we all at TD, both students and leaders alike, need to consider and pray through, and then act upon. I believe the following article brings some insight into the discussion. – Arthur

Some years ago, after watching a documentary that extols the virtues of juicing, I experimented with doing a juice fast. I started buying produce by the bushel and tried all sorts of juice recipes. My kitchen hummed with the sound of my juicer or my trusty Ninja blender.

It was fun for a while—a short while. The process was messy and time consuming, and cleaning the juicer was a pain. So I started buying bottled juice instead, but that was boring and expensive. I gave up before long.

One of the reasons I undertook the experiment had to do with taste. I’ve always been a picky eater, and I began to suspect that part of the reason for this had to do with what I had done to my ability to taste. I had subsisted for so long on processed, artificial food that I could not taste or appreciate more subtle (and natural) flavors. I had burned out my taste buds. So, I wanted to take some time when I was ingesting only natural foods in hopes that I could learn to appreciate real flavors.

Sometimes, when I survey the state of American Christianity, I am reminded of this reason for my juice fast. Many Christians are feeding themselves with the spiritual equivalent of processed food. It is processed religion: light shows and rock bands in place of reverent worship, self-help books masquerading as edification, and self-focused comedy shows presented as sermons.

Processed religion is often attractive. But it has been heavily refined in order to be highly palatable, so it provides only a short-term boost without much lasting nutrition. Like a sugar rush, it carries you on for a while, but it cannot sustain you over the long term. Even the best of it is spiritual milk, but we are called to move on to spiritual meat (1 Cor. 3:1–2; Heb. 5:12–14).

As I had burned out my taste buds on processed food, I fear that we are at risk of burning out our spiritual taste buds when we subsist on processed religion. We are called to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8), to “come to the waters,” and to “eat” (Isa. 55:1). But the flavors of biblical religion can be subtle, and they take time to appreciate. A quiet time of prayer, the solemnity of the Lord’s Supper, the gravity of a well-crafted, biblical sermon—these are the things that nourish our souls.

God has prescribed in His Word the things that will satisfy our spirits, because He knows better than we do what is good for us. He has provided for us the ordinary means of grace—the Word, the sacraments, and prayer—as the simple, methodical, steady diet that will allow us to grow in grace over time. When we come and eat and drink of the deep, fulfilling richness of God’s means of grace, we will be satisfied

When we concentrate on the God-ordained means of our spiritual nourishment, we can grow to appreciate them as the genuine food that they are, and we will want nothing else. And unlike my juice fast, they—and God—will not disappoint us.

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

“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.