The Deadliest Sin

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Hey TD!

What sins are you battling in your life right now?  That’s not even really the right question, for there’s only one real over-arching sin: defiance of God and His authority over us.  However, there are many expressions of that sin.  And that may be the more precise question.  Which expressions of defiance of God are you battling with now?  They come in all shapes and sizes.

In this latest episode of the TD Commotion (our shorter topical podcasts), there is one in particular that Eunice wants to talk to you about that may well be at the root of many of your sinful expressions. Some call it … the deadliest sin.  It’s worth the 4 minutes!  Please listen and consider. – Arthur

The Deadliest Sin

What Will You Give Jesus? Day 12

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me … A CHILD BORN TO SET THE WORLD FREE!!  On this twelfth and final day of our gift giving to Jesus, we have a poetic extravaganza to give to Jesus – four original poems crafted for Jesus’ heart and our blessing!  Thanks Eunice, Josh, Sam, and Abigail!  Enjoy and Merry Christmas, TD! – Arthur

Christmas Prose

by Eunice Im

Christmas is a season full of longing and expectation. For instance, the Christmas lights and other pleasant decorations induce a romantic feeling in air, which put us in ‘the mood.’ We look forward to time off from school and work, for Christmas morning when we get to open presents, and for that one time during the year when the radio plays Christmas music all day long (okay, some of us enjoy the music). With all the child-like anticipation building up, this season can turn the grumpiest of Scrooges into kind and generous men; it can also remind us of deeper hungers yet to be fulfilled. Gift exchanges may promote kindness and appreciation, but also stir within us a desire for this kindness to last throughout the year. The extra family gatherings warm our hearts, but also remind us of lost loved ones and relationships that need mending. Isn’t it funny how heightened expectations can and often does lead to a deeper sense of expectation? That’s probably the reason why this season is painful for so many – it’s a reminder of all the things yet to be fulfilled. Before we prematurely call Christmas a hoax, a fake, a huge trick, let’s remember Christmas in its true essence. On that historic night, many years ago, God met with us, not in a deceitful way (like the many advertisements that promise slimmer bodies and happier times but do not deliver on their promises), but He truly, humbly, genuinely met with us. He promised from ages past through prophets like Isaiah, and He came through. This Christmas, let’s celebrate how He began the process of fulfilling all those deeper longings for reconciliation, true kindness and eternal life. Let’s celebrate…and wait for He is not done yet.

 

Christmas Poem

by Joshua Hsu

The splendor and the grandeur that must have been there when the Son was born.

Well actually, I don’t remember that in the Bible mentioned on that Christmas morn.

He was born in a stable,

Humble to the lowest state.

He was the King of Kings

And yet he didn’t even grow up on an Emperor’s rich estate.

He came to die for sins that He never made

God loved us so, that He was sacrificed for condemned man that shouldn’t be saved

He bridged the gap, which was impossible for us to cross

As he hung there bleeding for us on the Cross

Amazing Grace, that’s what the Christmas story is.

In history, it’s His story of salvation and the love He gives

Don’t get me wrong, its not about us, Its all about Him

He is a jealous God, pointing us constantly to Him

He is the answer, but yet we don’t have the power to see

And maybe thats why it is so hard for us to believe

A revelation

I get it

Now I finally see

The Christmas story is the story of the loved sinners now redeemed.

On Christmas Day

 by Samantha Chen

On Christmas the sun shines bright

A single glint shines on a little girl’s eyes

She quickly awakens to the light,

Because Christmas day has finally come

She rushes fast down as if in flight

To find all the presents under the tree

But one particularly caught her sight

A single box wrapped in a bow

She quickly opens the box as if in rage,

Only to find a leather book inside

A single book with thousands of pages

Was what she least expect on Christmas day

Running up to her parent’s bed

She shows them her leather book

“It’s a gift for you,” They said

“And in it a greater gift lies”

“This book tells of a God who created,

Protected, and loved us a lot.

But because of the sin we committed

We were doom to a road to death”

“However because God love us so

He planned a gift that would given be to us

A gift we did not deserve but now we can hold

Was born on Christmas night”

“He was God’s only son named Jesus

And He lived a perfect sinless life

He performed miracles and healed weaknesses

And showed His Father’s love to many others”

“But that’s not only why God sent Him

He sent Him to us so that we may live

He sent Him to die for our sins,

Even though He lived a sinless life”

“This is the greatest gift given to us,

By a Great and Loving God”

With this they leave to clean up her paper mess

As the girl looks and wonders about the book

She eyes the book in a different way

As if it is a treasure to uphold

Because on this special day

She saw what Christmas was really about

The Twelve Days of Christmas

 by Abigail Suen

On the first day of Christmas,

We gave to Jesus,

Our hearts, strength, minds, and souls.

On the second day of Christmas,

We gave to Jesus,

Two offerings,

And our hearts, strength, minds, and souls.

On the third day of Christmas,

We gave to Jesus,

Three cheerful carols,

Two offerings,

And our hearts, strength, minds, and souls.

On the fourth day of Christmas,

We gave to Jesus,

Four lovely cards,

Three cheerful carols,

Two offerings,

And our hearts, strength, minds, and souls.

On the fifth day of Christmas,

We gave to Jesus,

Five green wreaths,

Four lovely cards,

Three cheerful carols,

Two offerings,

And our hearts, strength, minds, and souls.

On the sixth day of Christmas,

We gave to Jesus,

Six meals for the poor,

Five green wreaths,

Four lovely cards,

Three cheerful carols,

Two offerings,

And our hearts, strength, minds, and souls.

On the seventh day of Christmas,

We gave to Jesus,

Seven gifts for needy children,

Six meals for the poor,

Five green wreaths,

Four lovely cards,

Three cheerful carols,

Two offerings,

And our hearts, strength, minds, and souls.

On the eighth day of Christmas,

We gave to Jesus,

Eight gospel tracks for neighbors,

Seven gifts for needy children,

Six meals for the poor,

Five green wreaths,

Four lovely cards,

Three cheerful carols,

Two offerings,

And our hearts, strength, minds, and souls.

On the ninth day of Christmas,

We gave to Jesus,

Nine home visitations,

Eight gospel tracks for neighbors,

Seven gifts for needy children,

Six meals for the poor,

Five green wreaths,

Four lovely cards,

Three cheerful carols,

Two offerings,

And our hearts, strength, minds, and souls.

On the tenth day of Christmas,

We gave to Jesus,

Ten Nativity plays,

Nine home visitations,

Eight gospel tracks for neighbors,

Seven gifts for needy children,

Six meals for the poor,

Five green wreaths,

Four lovely cards,

Three cheerful carols,

Two offerings,

And our hearts, strength, minds, and souls.

On the eleventh day of Christmas,

We gave to Jesus,

Eleven church services,

Ten Nativity plays,

Nine home visitations,

Eight gospel tracks for neighbors,

Seven gifts for needy children,

Six meals for the poor,

Five green wreaths,

Four lovely cards,

Three cheerful carols,

Two offerings,

And our hearts, strength, minds, and souls.

On the twelfth day of Christmas,

We gave to Jesus,

Twelve pious prayers,

Eleven church services,

Ten Nativity plays,

Nine home visitations,

Eight gospel tracks for neighbors,

Seven gifts for needy children,

Six meals for the poor,

Five green wreaths,

Four lovely cards,

Three cheerful carols,

Two offerings,

And our hearts, strength, minds, and souls.

The Pernicious Lie: You’re Not THAT Bad!

Is it more loving to tell someone a lie or to tell someone the truth, but hurt her feelings?  Of course, there’s more than meets he eye here, for intent often must precede content.  But, if the intent on both counts is to genuinely, sincerely love the other, what’s better?

In the latest essay our “The Pernicious Lie” series, Eunice thankfully loves us by giving the truth about ourselves in unmasking the pernicious and soul-condemning lies of compromise that we want to believe, to our peril.  Please read on with a willingness to change.  Comments welcomed! – Arthur  

Charles Spurgeon, a British Baptist preacher, once made a startling remark about mankind, “You cannot slander human nature; it is worse than words can paint it.” Harsh words.

Scripture doesn’t paint a prettier picture. Actually, Scripture uses severely vile terms to describe man. Men are “corrupt, and have committed abominable injustice.” In all of humanity, “there is none righteous, not even one…There is none who does good.” (Romans 3:10, 12)

I don’t disagree with the truth of Scripture. Looking at the world and, especially, at my own record, I am cognitively aware of the reality of sin and its presence within me. However, even with this knowledge, in my heart of hearts I question, “Uh, really? Is sin that bad? Am I really that bad?”

On the horizontal level, leading a moral life can wear the guise of sinlessness. As long as you don’t do horribly bad things, you’re okay. Just make sure you go to church on Sundays, read your Bible occasionally, and generally keep the Ten Commandments. When I evaluate myself according to that scale, I seem to be doing just fine. I can give myself a pat on the back and move on with my day.

Then, why is God making such a big fuss? What’s the big deal?

The prophet Jeremiah speaks on behalf of the Lord:

“For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” (Jeremiah 2:13)

As I let this pierce through my heart, I realize the great weight of my sin. Sin is not just simply a ‘missing of the mark’, although it includes this. Sin is worth infinite condemnation because of who it offends. John Bunyan goes further to describe sin as “the dare of God’s justice, the rape of His mercy, the jeer of His patience, the slight of His power, the contempt of His love!” Each time I disregard my mother’s words, diminish the imago dei in another person, worry about my future, or covet the talents of a close friend, I take a stab at God. His heart.

For the typical Christian, we easily play the game of blurring the lines between black and white, and make everything ‘gray.’ Drinking is fine; just make sure you don’t drink too much. Dating that person is okay; just make sure that the person goes to church. We can dabble in activities of the world; just make sure that we still maintain our Christian label. John Wesley’s mother, Susanna Wesley, with precise words described sin as “that which weakens your reasoning, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, or takes away your relish for spiritual things—in short, if anything increases the authority and power of the flesh over the spirit— that to you becomes sin, however good it is in itself.” Anything and everything that pulls you away from a closer fellowship with the Lord, Your Heavenly Father, is sin.

When the exterior—one’s looks, reputation, accomplishments, talents, personality, and self-esteem—is stripped away, every man is nothing more than a filthy, murderous, delusional harlot, seeking satisfaction and salvation from every where and anywhere else, except from God, her true Love. Under all our make-up, our bodies are temples for the indulgence of lusts and the worship of idols.

Christian brother, Christian sister, do not be deceived, “for when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.” Do not think that your actions— no matter how small, insignificant, or trivial— don’t have eternal consequences.

– Eunice Im

The Cosmic Cube: Thinking Outside the Box

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Assumptions. Everyone lives by them each moment of the day. Truth is, the veracity and quality of your assumptions will determine the course of your life and affect the lives around you. What assumptions are you living by? Are they true? Will they stand the test of life and of time? Who or what is building your box of assumptions? It is questions like these that faced a high schooler named Eunice Im a few years back. I urge you to read her story and learn from it. – Arthur

“The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart.”

One night, I found my high school yearbook lying on my desk. Cracking it open brought back a flood of memories. While looking through pictures and reading through messages from old friends, a mix of emotions sprung up from reminiscing and remembering those ‘good old times.’ As I sat and pondered, I was confronted with a harsh question—did any of that really matter?

During high school, I always wanted to popular. I wanted to be the girl who was liked, sociable, and accepted. Of course, there were things that I was not willing to compromise for the sake of popularity, but I still had a strong desire for it. I envied those who had more friends than me, who always had a date to the upcoming dance, and who were invited to all the ‘cool’ parties. I could not bear the idea of being a social outcast, someone who missed out on all the ‘fun.’

Reflecting back, I can see that I lived with the assumption that man’s praise is the best thing to receive in life. Del Tackett poignantly states, “Assumptions are the most dangerous form of knowledge.” Assumptions, depending on its source, will bring prosperity or turmoil. Only the assumptions that align best with truth can yield a well-lived life. God, the One with perfect perception, is the source of truth. “The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart.” (Psalm 19:8)

What does God do with His people, who live according to ‘precepts’ of the flesh, rather than the Spirit? How does He break down these assumptions? What does it take to break away from our destructive thinking?

Before college started, I made a commitment to intentionally invest in more meaningful relationships with my family and church friends. I didn’t want to spread myself thin, like I did in high school, and the Lord convinced me, through His Word and through different people and circumstances, that this is the best decision. It wasn’t until I carried this out that I realized the depth of my assumptive thinking. Continue reading

The Cosmic Battle: The Testimony of Jesus

Enjoy  and be challenged by the second essay of the Cosmic Battle series!

Amidst the confusion and babble of our day, the testimony of a Nazarene man echoes through history. Claiming to be the Son of God, Jesus Christ, born and raised in the city of Bethlehem, went around the Galilean land to heal the sick, seek the lost, and grant the forgiveness of sins. The religious authorities despised him and, after a betrayal and a series of faulty court trials, Jesus stood before Pontius Pilate. As these two men, God incarnate and a revered Roman governor, came face to face, they shared the most remarkable dialogue.

“Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.”

“Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?

Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

“Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” ” (John 18:36-38, emphasis mine) Continue reading