Arthur’s Confession – “I’m Adopted”

Show Hope

Hey TD,

Most of you probably have never thought about me in this way … and in a way, I’m glad … but sometimes, it’s good to come back to the truth of things and to remind myself (and you) that … I’m adopted.  It’s true.  And it’s the best thing that has ever happened to me. Adoption is beautiful, life-saving, life-giving, and life-transforming.  I am proud to be adopted.

I live the life I now live, with the confidence, and empowerment, and joy, and purpose, and delight, and hope, and love, and enthusiasm, and fulfillment, and opportunity, and perspective, and blessing, and richness, and family, and friendships, and fellowship, and satisfaction, and peace, and … security … I now live with, because of one simple fact:

I’m adopted.

You see, my natural father did not teach me how to live the right way.  He taught me how to lie, cheat, steal, and live for myself.  He taught me to compete against people and get my worth from outdoing others.  He didn’t teach me to rest and be satisfied in doing my best and in empowering others to do theirs.  He didn’t teach me to know THAT was success.

Nor did he teach me the right way to view the opposite sex, with sacredness and honor.  Instead, he taught me to look at them as a means of titillation and self-gratification, like he did. He wanted me to use them, not serve them; to lust for them, not love them; to idolize them, not cherish them.

I could go on at length about my natural father, but I’d rather not.  I’m actually still working out and undoing his pervasive influence and its effects in my life.  It’s still going to take a while, but it’s happening.  My adoptive Father is making sure of that; and I love Him for that.

I could go on and on and on about my adoptive Father.  In fact, I have and I do. For hours at a time. In a group called Total Devotion. A few Fridays a month. For thirty-three years.  And I can’t stop!  There’s so much more to tell you!  He is THAT good!

Here’s how good my adoptive Father is:  He wants to offer His Fatherhood to you as well.  Here’s how impactful He’s been at my heart level: I don’t feel threatened or jealous by Him wanting to share His love with you.  In fact, I want you to experience it too!

I was introduced to my adoptive Father by my biological father, Kuo-Chen Hsieh.  I owe my biological dad so much for insisting that I go to church so I could meet my eventual adoptive Heavenly Father.  My life has literally been changed forever.

I’d love to do the same for you.  If you want to get to know my adoptive Father, I’d love to introduce you to Him.  He’s amazing.  Just let me know and I’ll arrange a time for all of us to meet!

My old life with my natural father:

“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:44

“The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.” 1John 3:8-10

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.” Eph. 2:1-3

My new life with my adoptive Father:

“And, “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” 2Cor. 6:18

“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” John 1:12-13
“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.  Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Rom. 8:14-17
“But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.” Gal. 4:4-5
I sincerely hope my real Father adopts you soon! – Arthur

The Risk of Seeing

Hey TD,

Isn’t it weird how we can look at something and just not really see it?  Looking and seeing are two very different things.  As you embark on your summers, we want to see what God wants us to see.  Let’s start the week off by putting ourselves in a position to see life more as He sees life.  This article by our friend, Jill Carattini, at RZIM is a good start.  Enjoy! – Arthur

The Risk of Seeing

Posted by Jill Carattini on June 13, 2016

In an essay titled “Meditation in a Toolshed,” C.S. Lewis describes a scene from within a darkened shed. The sun was brilliantly shining outside, yet from the inside only a small sunbeam could be seen through a crack at the top of the door. Everything was pitch-black except for the prominent beam of light, by which he could see flecks of dust floating about. Writes Lewis:

“I was seeing the beam, not seeing things by it. Then I moved, so that the beam fell on my eyes. Instantly the whole previous picture vanished. I saw no toolshed, and (above all) no beam. Instead I saw, framed in the irregular cranny at the top of the door, green leaves moving in the branches of a tree outside and beyond that, 90 odd million miles away, the sun. Looking along the beam, and looking at the beam are very different experiences.”(1)

 

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Each time I come to the gospel accounts of the woman with the alabaster jar, I notice something similar. “Do you see this woman?” Jesus asks, as if he is speaking as much to me the reader as he is to the guests around the table. With a jar of costly perfume, she had anointed the feet of Christ with fragrance and tears. She risked shame and endured criticism because she alone saw the one in front of them all. While the dinner crowd was sitting in the dark about Jesus, the woman was peering in the light of understanding. What she saw invoked tears of recognition, sacrifice, and love. Gazing along the beam and at the beam are quite different ways of seeing.

The late seventeenth century poet George Herbert once described prayer as “the soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage.” At those words I picture the woman with her broken alabaster jar, wiping the dusty, fragrant feet of Christ with her hair. Pouring out the expensive nard, she seems to pour out her soul. Fittingly, Herbert concludes his grand description of prayer as “something understood.”

The woman with the alabaster jar not only saw the Christ when others did not, Christ saw her when others could not see past her powerless categories. “Do you see this woman?” Jesus asks while the others were questioning her actions, past and present. “I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much.”(2) Her soul’s cry was heard; she herself was understood.

There are many ways of looking at Jesus: good man, prophet, historical character, provocative teacher, God in flesh, one who sees, one who hears, one who loves. At any point, we could easily walk away feeling like we have seen everything we need to see, when in fact we may have seen very little. The risk of looking again may well change everything.

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

(1) C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970), 212-215.
(2) Luke 7:44-47.

 

Accidental Perfection? Nope.

 

downloadHey TD,

I walked out of the hospital this morning saying to Sandra, “God is just absolutely amazing.”  I mean, how many of you would be perfectly content and happy if you had a 99% success rate in everything you do; if everything you tried was 99% successful?  I would be absolutely ecstatic and would take that deal in a heartbeat … well, at first blush at least.  99% on tests, 99% winning percentage in sports, 99% going right in my relationships, 99% accuracy in the things that I do.

Being at the hospital so much this week, seeing lives lying on beds looking their worst, feeling miserable, with many there because perhaps 1% of their bodies aren’t functioning right reminded me of the precision with which God operates.  I thought about how exact our bodies regulate our body temperature day in and day out. 98.6 degrees. One degree off and our bodies our out of whack; we have a difficult time functioning.  Two or three degrees off and we’re laid up in bed.

It’s incredible to me – with all the hundreds of variables within our bodies going on all the time – that our bodies are so fine-tuned and self-regulated that they maintain that precise 98.6 degree temperature for nearly every moment of every day of the entire year … every year!  So so many things could alter that equilibrium at any time.  Yet, for nearly all of us, that equilibrium remains constant 99.9 percent of the time. Just stop and consider that for a second.  Amazing.

Thank the Lord for the sustained, precise, calibrated excellence that is you!

He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together – Col. 1:17

Where God Was Homeless

Merry Christmas, TD!

I read this “Slice of Infinity” (RZIM’s daily readings) by Ravi and was nearly as convicted as he was, as I could see myself reacting the exact same way he did.  Perhaps you could too.  May this reading remind you of how to live not only on Christmas, but year round. – Arthur

Where God Was Homeless by Ravi Zacharias

Some years ago, we were spending Christmas in the home of my wife’s parents. It was not a happy day in the household. Much had gone wrong during the preceding weeks, and a weight of sadness hung over the home. Yet, in the midst of all that, my mother-in-law kept her routine habit of asking people who would likely have no place to go at Christmas to share Christmas dinner with us.

That year she invited a man who was, by everyone’s estimate, somewhat of an odd person, quite eccentric in his demeanor. Not much was known about him at the church except that he came regularly, sat alone, and left without much conversation. He obviously lived alone and was quite a sorry-looking, solitary figure. He was our Christmas guest.

Because of other happenings in the house (including one daughter being taken to the hospital for the birth of her first child), everything was in confusion. All of our emotions were on edge. It fell upon me, in turn, to entertain this gentleman. I must confess that I did not appreciate it. Owing to a heavy life of travel year-round, I have jealously guarded my Christmases as time to be with my family. This was not going to be such a privilege, and I was not happy. As I sat in the living room, entertaining him while others were busy, I thought to myself, “This is going to go down as one of the most miserable Christmases of my life.”

But somehow we got through the evening. He evidently loved the meal, the fire crackling in the background, the snow outside, the Christmas carols playing, and a rather weighty theological discussion in which he and I were engaged—at his instigation, I might add. He was a very well-read man and, as I found out, loved to grapple with heavy theological themes. I do too, but frankly, not during an evening that has been set aside to enjoy life’s quiet moments.

At the end of the night when he bade us all good-bye, he reached out and took the hand of each of us, one by one, and said, “Thank you for the best Christmas of my life. I will never forget it.” He walked out into the dark, snowy night, back into his solitary existence.

My heart sank in self-indictment at those tender words of his. I had to draw on every nerve in my being to keep from breaking down with tears. Just a few short years later, relatively young, and therefore to our surprise, he passed away. I have relived that Christmas many times in my memory. That year God taught me a lesson. A home can reflect and distribute the love of Christ.

The first time I walked through the noisy streets of Bethlehem and endured its smells, I gained a whole new sense of the difference between our Christmas carols, glamorizing the sweetness of the “little town of Bethlehem,” and the harsh reality of God becoming flesh and making a home among us. G.K. Chesterton captures the wonder of such a thought:

A child in a foul stable,
Where the beasts feed and foam;
Only where he was homeless
Are you and I at home:
We have hands that fashion and heads that know,
But our hearts we lost—how long ago!
In a place no chart nor ship can show
Under the sky’s dome.

To an open house in the evening
Home shall men come,
To an older place than Eden
And a taller town than Rome.
To the end of the way of the wandering star,
To the things that cannot be and that are,
To the place where God was homeless
And all men are at home.(1)

Jesus’s earthly address changes our own. Christ comes this Christmas, and shows us what it means to live.

Ravi Zacharias is founder and chairman of the board of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.

(1) G.K. Chesterton, “The House of Christmas,” from Robert Knille, ed., As I Was Saying (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1985), 304-5.

TD in 2 Parts on Friday

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“Our All-Knowing God” (message) – Rebecca

Hey TD!

Would you ever consider drinking from a cup that has been buried in the gutter, caked with excrement and filled with toxic waste? Or would you eat from a bowl that has been attached to a corpse, rotting in a maggot-filled grave?

The obvious answer is a resounding NO!!! We would never allow something so unclean and so repulsive to touch our mouths and enter our stomachs, endangering our health. Yet, we often allow thoughts that are far more unclean and far more repulsive to enter our minds into our hearts, endangering our souls.

To prep for our small group time this Friday, please review Rebecca’s lesson above and work through the following questions:

1. Psalm 139 delves into minute detail regarding the small thoughts and actions that affect the condition and cleanliness of our “cups.” Read Psalm 139.

     a. Where do your thoughts tend to wander and rest? (Col 3:1-2)

     b. What do your actions suggest about the trajectory of your heart?                      (James 4:1-10)

2. What would it take for you to be willing to use a cup and bowl with such disgusting origins? (Matthew 23:25-28)  Think of what it would take for God to be willing to use you.

3. How can a vessel stay pure or become pure?

We have 2 parts to our meeting this Friday:

  1. We will be joining the rest of MBCLA at the Missions Conference in the Main Sanctuary at 7:30 p.m.  After combined singing, we will head down to the chapel on the mid-level of the Main Campus for a message from a missionary.
  2. After the message is over, we will meet at the TD room and finish the evening in our small groups, discussing and exploring the knowledge of God.

See you Friday!

TD This Friday – “Our All-Knowing God”

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Hey TD!

It has been said, “To know me is to love me.”  Well, God knows us alright.  Boy, does He know us; far more than we’ve ever even thought of.  And not only does He know us, He knows everything there is to know about … well, everything!  He is an amazing, amazing, amazing God!

This Friday, we begin our journey through the beloved Psalm 139, as we embark on our year’s theme, “Reboot: Seeing God as God Again.”  It will also mark Rebecca’s speaking debut at TD!  I met with her this weekend, and she is chock full of insights, implications, and enthusiasm for the Lord.  I am excited to hear from her.  I know you will be blessed.

So, come on out and get ready to begin seeing God as God again!

Arthur

TD This Friday – “Living by Faith”

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Hey TD!

We all live by faith every moment of every day.  Sometimes our faith is validated and sometimes it’s not.  Do you have actual saving faith in Christ?  Do you have a real and living faith?  Faith is one of the most misunderstood qualities of the Christian faith … and one of the most important.

I encourage you to come to TD this Friday as I teach for the last time this year, and learn what faith really is and is not.  It’ll help you to live by faith!

Below are the links to the last 3 TD messages on mp3’s.  Great stuff for life!  Enjoy and drink deeply! – Arthur

“A Change of Direction” – Arthur

“Forgiveness and the Justice of God” – Francis

“The Spirit Within You” – Sandra