TD Fri. – “A TD Thanksgiving feat. Offerings 8”!

Hey TD!

This Friday is “A TD Thanksgiving feat. Offerings 8”! Woohoo! It’s going to be great time of giving thanks to our ever-so-gracious God through food, fun, fellowship, and Offerings 8! We’ll meet at the Hsiehs’ home at 6:30 p.m. to begin the festivities.

Potluck

Each small group member will bring primarily main dishes and sides, while one person in each group will bring drinks and one person will bring dessert. Let your small group leaders know what you’ll be bringing.

Offerings 8

The theme is “Engage!” and is an invitation for us to engage with God and one another creatively and artistically by giving Him an offering of music, art, writing, reading, recitation, whatever.  You may be hesitant or nervous about giving Him a public offering, but we encourage you take a risk and go for it.  It will not only be a blessing to others, but to yourself as well.  If you haven’t signed up yet, sign up with your small group leaders today!

I posted this interview last with the one and only Jill Carattini month, but it’s a great reminder as to why the arts are an important component to the Christian life and the Christian community.  I’d encourage you to watch it again and respond:

 

See you Friday! – Arthur

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A Distinctively Christian Appreciation of the Arts

Andrew Wyeth, one of America’s most renowned realist painters of the twentieth century, had an uncanny ability to capture the solemn nature of the rural American life with painstakingly controlled brushstrokes and a muted color palette. One of Wyeth’s most intriguing and iconic paintings is titled Christina’s World (1948). The central focus of the work is a brunette female lying in a field with her left hand struggling toward her far-off farmhouse. The figure in the painting is modeled after Wyeth’s neighbor, Anna Olson. Olson suffered from a degenerative muscular disorder that limited her to crawling around her house and family land.

There is nothing loud or wildly fantastic about the subject matter of Christina’s World. The power of the painting is held in what might be called the familiar whisper of beauty, a sense of the deep struggle in longing for home. It is a whisper that we cannot ignore. Like Christina’s World, beautiful art is never viewed with indifference. As philosopher Roger Scruton has noted, “Beauty demands to be noticed; it speaks directly to us like the voice of an intimate friend.” There is a sense in which all good art gives a certain voice to beauty. As C.S. Lewis reminds us in The Weight of Glory, beauty and art point beyond themselves. Beauty comes through as “the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.”

R.C. Sproul’s apt observation of the place of art in the life of a Christian still rings true today: “In the Christian community,” he argued, “there seems to be a negative attitude toward art.” Many believers think that art is unworthy of a Christian, as if art were something worldly, an illegitimate enterprise for Christians to engage in and reflect upon. Yet, as Hans Rookmaker rightly pointed out, art’s justification is found in the way God made the world. To put it plainly, art is its own justification. Why else would it be that humanity alone has been endowed with the ability to appreciate art and experience beauty? Why has God made it so that art like Christina’s World provokes a deep longing that is found in all of us? No living creatures other than human beings would be deeply moved by standing before Wyeth’s painting at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. These reflective questions call for a distinctly Christian answer. What is the deep soul stirring that beautiful art brings to the surface of our conscience?

As Christians, we understand that the beginning of art is found in the act of creation in the Genesis account. In creation, God uniquely fashioned human beings in His image as aesthetic creatures possessed with a distinct capacity to experience and appreciate beauty and the ability to cultivate and create beautiful things. The artistic instinct is a universal human phenomenon. Art is embedded in our image-bearing nature. However, the Christian understands that art does not originate from man apart from God. Beauty in art is, therefore, a gift of common grace from God that has been made accessible and comprehensible to all people.

For the Christian in particular, art can be experienced as an analogical signpost bearing witness to the Author of all that is beautiful. As human beings, we care about beauty and the arts because our Creator God is beautiful and is the source of all beauty (Pss. 27:4, 50:2). Moreover, in creation, God intentionally fashioned our world as an artist—a divine artist who benevolently chose to endow our earthly experience with beauty (see Rom. 1:20). As an act of self-disclosure, creation itself declares the beauty of God (Ps. 19:1). In the creation of art, the artist mimics the creative work of God in disclosing a particular viewpoint of the world to be apprehended by the viewer. The interaction between the artist and the audience is that of mutual consent. There is something to be communicated, and art is the vehicle of communication.

If art truly serves as a signpost, a map, then we as Christians are called to be the guides.

Throughout human history, the arts have played a significant role in man’s effort to build a meaningful world. One could argue that the history of civilization can be traced through the arts. Nicholas Wolterstorff argued that the act of creating beautiful things involves the presentation of an alternative world or worldview to be considered by its audience. Implicit in this idea is that beautiful things stand between the artist and the audience and communicate by evoking emotion, conveying truth, and illuminating human experience. The best of art is, among other things, presented for contemplation. Art is a place where meaning can be created, explored, and discovered.

At the same time, art is to be discerned. In Acts 17, when Paul was confronted with the idolatrous art of Athens, he became deeply distressed and pointed them to the one true God in whom all of their longings could be met. In examining the things that their artists had created, Paul was able to exegete their culture and uncover the deep desires of their hearts. One principle implicit in this Acts 17 exchange is the truth that art helps cultivate the ability to discern a deeper sense of our human existence and experience. Art allows us to transcend ourselves and see things as they are from different perspectives, thus enabling us to find common ground for interaction. Art, therefore, inclines us to respond more sensitively to the world around us for the purpose of understanding. When specific pieces of art, music, and literature resonate with the masses, it should provoke our attention and study.

Even so, art is not exempt from the fall; indeed, it is often an instrument of the falleness of the world. But art can also be an instrument of redemptive dialogue in our world that is fallen yet undergoing cosmic redemption. As Abraham Kuyper reminded us, “in spite of sin by virtue of common grace, [the arts] have continued to shine in human nature, [so] it plainly follows that art can both inspire both believers and unbelievers, and that God remains sovereign to impart it, in his good pleasure.” What we must understand is that the beauties of this world and even the longings expressed in art are a whisper to our souls that there is something beyond the physical order.

Therefore, art, like beauty, is both a gift and a map. It is a gift to be enjoyed and a map to be followed back to the source of the beauty with glorious praise. The Christian must appreciate art because it is often the vehicle for which truth, experience, and longings are expressed. Christians must seek to engage in understanding the arts because they provide a window to see how the God-given longings of humanity are expressed from generation to generation. Beautiful pieces of art such as Christina’s World may bring to the surface the shared sense of longing for home that all human beings feel deep within their souls, but the Christian is the one who can point beyond the longing itself toward the God who can fulfill all of these desires in “a better country, that is, a heavenly one” (Heb. 11:16). If art truly serves as a signpost, a map, then we as Christians are called to be the guides.

Dr. Matthew Z. Capps is senior pastor of Fairview Baptist Church in Apex, N.C. He is author of Hebrews: A 12 Week Study.

TD Vlog – “How the Arts Can Deepen Your Faith” w/Jill Carattini

Hey Masterpieces of God!

This summer, while at ReFresh with in Atlanta with some TD’ers, I had a chance to spend some time with dear friend, Jill Carattini, writer extraordinaire on the deeper spiritual life, managing editor of Ravi Zacharias Int’l Ministries’ (RZIM) Slice of Infinity, and curator of RZIM’s formal art gallery, Stillpoint.

Jill agreed to come on camera with me and share with you TD’ers how the arts can deepen and energize your faith, and help you to get a greater apprehension of who we are. It’s spiritually insightful and very personal and vulnerable, reflecting her journey, my journey, … and for many of you … your journey. Where she was is where many of you are at. It will be a worthwhile viewing.

With Offerings 8 coming up on November 16, I thought this would be a great time to give you some inspiration and perspective, so you can prepare to give a meaningful offering to the Lord. Enjoy! – Arthur

TD’er, are you a Christian that both society and the church can listen to?

(Al Mohler on CNN – the Christian lady interviewed sounds like many Christians sound – well intentioned but unclear on how faith intersects with life)

Hi TD!

Where do you stand on the Roy-Moore-running-for-senate controversy, especially since much has to do with his faith and his actions?  Wait, you don’t know who Roy Moore is and what the issue is about?

Christians have often been accused by both society and the church for being insular, burying our heads in the sand, caring only for our own local churches, and for not knowing what’s really going on in society and not making much difference in it.  While that cannot legitimately be asserted for Christians as a whole, sadly, I think it can be said for a sizable portion of the God’s church.

One of our aims in TD is to help those of you who are desirous and willing to become more effective in representing the Lord in your future engagement with society as a resident of this world, yet as a citizen of Heaven. We see that poignant engagement encompassing a broader scope of societal impact than perhaps you’ve considered; we’re talking about future engagement in academia, the marketplace, the church, the arts, the public square.

One of our aims in TD is to help those of you who are desirous and willing to become more effective in representing the Lord in your future engagement with society as a resident of this world, yet as a citizen of Heaven.

One way to catch a vision of this is to watch and study those ahead of you who are doing it well.  That’s why we have consistently exposed TD’ers through the decades to those who are excelling in their callings and who have made significant impact both in society and in the church.  The two cannot be divorced.

Jesus said that the very greatest commandment that His children need to live by – everywhere, all the time – is to authentically love the Lord our God with the energy, fortitude, focus, intentionality, resolve, intensity, humility that we have; and that kind of love comes with a practical, tangible, meaningful love that impacts others’ lives in Jesus’s Name.  Again, the two cannot be divorced.  They are natural bed fellows.  When the first happens, the second naturally follows and, in fact, is a significant part of fulfilling the first.

One such Christian who is representing His Kingdom effectively in this way is R. Albert Mohler

One such Christian who is representing His Kingdom effectively in this way is R. Albert Mohler (or commonly referred to as Al Mohler), President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, author, social critic and host of the radio show, “The Briefing,”  frequent TV news interviewee, essayist, blogger, teacher, speaker, Ligonier Fellow, Christian apologist, and more importantly, faithful husband and father, and most importantly, child of God.

Take a look at his web site, read, listen, and let him help you grow, sharpen, expand, defend, and think as a Christ-follower:  Al Mohler’s website 

His CNN interview above on the Roy Moore issue is an example of  how a thoughtful, faithful Christian can represent Christ clearly and faithfully in the public arena while addressing public issues fairly and effectively.

This is not even public news yet (you are one of the first to know), but Dr. Mohler is coming out to UCLA to address questions of unbelievers, those in doubt, and serious questioners of the Christian faith at UCLA.  We at TD plan to be there to support and to learn from one of the best!  I’ll share more as the event draws nearer; but we can start praying for the impact of the event now.

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.  1 Peter 3:15

Let’s open our hearts and minds and hands and feet to let our God make us into who He wants us to be, to do what He wants us to do, TD! – Arthur

TD’s UNI-versity Night. One.

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Hey TD!

Come be a part of TD history this Friday, as we host TD’s UNI-versity Night. One., our first ever event honing in on celebrating the diversity of gifts, talents, pursuits, interests, and passions of TD’s leaders 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:

 

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. One. 

TD’s UNI-versity Night. One. bios

See you Friday at 7:15 p.m. for the Pre-TD Party!