“Youth Speakers” Info Meeting This Sunday! (watch this video!)

Watch this “vintage” video of our 1st Youth Speakers team and the “Speakers” process, and you’ll get to see Robert and Kathy when they were in high school! 🙂 

Hey TD!

One of THE most life-changing and transformative processes in TD through the years has been “Speakers,” as it is affectionately called.  It has changed the course of some of the lives of those who have gone through the process.  In fact, the majority of TD counselors and interns over the last decade have been “Speakers” alums; and this year’s TD leadership is no different: Robert, Kathy, Eunice, Daniel, Megan, Frances, Michelle, and Angela all participated as Speakers in high school!

If any of you 10th – 12th graders are curious or interested to learn more, we will have a mandatory information meeting THIS Sunday from 12:45 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. in one of the classrooms at the GWC. During this meeting, we will answer any and all questions regarding the 2019 CA So. Baptist Youth Speakers Tournament (YST).

You don’t have to know for sure if you are going to do “Speakers” or not this year to come to the meeting.  In fact, the meeting is being held to help you decide one way or another.  And don’t worry, there will be no pressure to join.

Hope to see you there! – Arthur

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Throwback Thursday – The Original Speakers!

The original Speakers story featured on the TD Commotion (with surprise anchors and cameos!) Produced by TD alum, Jenny, over a decade ago, it’s still a great piece.

Hey TD!

As we begin a new season of training youth speakers for the 2018 CA So. Baptist Youth Speakers Tournament (YST), I thought you’d enjoy a blast from the past! Back when we had the “Total Devotion Commotion” video program, we did a feature on the very first YST we entered in 2006.

About a week before the Los Angeles Association Drill, I had somewhat of an epiphany and saw a vision to begin training TD’ers to be able to communicate God’s Word effectively.  I pitched the idea to four seniors, asking them to be the guinea pigs and to take the first steps to open the doors for future TD’ers to walk through.  Even though all the other churches had already been preparing months in advance, I just wanted them to open the doors.  There was no way we were going to win or anything, but even entering would start the ball rolling for us.

I thought the four accepted the challenge, but one of them said she never did, so when she received my email thanking all of them for buying into the vision and being willing to do something crazy like enter YST with only a week to prepare, she went to the bathroom and cried.  Who could blame her? Public speaking is America’s greatest fear. Who was it? I’ll let you watch the video above to find out.

We spent nearly everyday at my home the following week preparing.  One speaker dropped out early, and then another had a scheduling conflict, leaving only two speakers left.  But God led us here and God’s hand was all over this (and clearly has been ever since).  The rest, as they say, is history.

Though we have had 13 tournament champions and 8 runners-up since then, we have had many, many more true winners – in the most important ways – before God. Through fierce struggle, perseverance, tears, and the mercy and grace of God, we have had speakers who thought they were Christians coming in, actually become Christians during Speakers.  We’ve had life re-dedications, victory over fear, personal “dragons” slain, and many tears of joy and triumph.

All I can say about the Speakers process is that it is … magic.  Enjoy the video! – Arthur

 

TD Friday – “The Author of Life” (Ps. 139:13-18) SG Study

Hey TD!

We hope you’ll make every effort to join us for one of our last small group studies of the year!  We will be delving deeper into the implications behind a correct understanding and acknowledgement of Psalm 139:13-18.

Please review Ps. 139 and review the study questions in preparation for some great discussion.  Here are the study and message, courtesy of Jenny and Clara (apologies for the poor quality of the audio):

“The Author of Life” message (Jenny/Clara)

“The Author of Life” small group study

Also, here’s Arthur’s message, Present and Not Present, Ps. 139:7-12, that was previously unposted:

“Present and Not Present” message (Arthur)

Lastly, have you been memorizing Psalm 139?  If not, get on it!  Here’s where you should be by now:

Psalm 139:1-18 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know [a]when I sit down and [b]when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.
You [c]scrutinize my [d]path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
[e]Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O Lord, You know it all.
You have enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high, I cannot attain to it.

Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in [f]Sheol, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will [g]overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,”
12 Even the darkness is not dark [h]to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You.

13 For You formed my [i]inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will give thanks to You, for [j]I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
15 My [k]frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.

17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.
When I awake, I am still with You.

Offerings – “Believe” – Jenny/Dora/Mel

Hey TD!

Offerings 3 is almost here! It’s still not too late to sign up!  Just let your small group leader know what you’ll be offering.

Here’s another offering from Offerings 2 – Jenny’s original song, “Believe,” as shared by Jenny, Dora, and Mel!

Believe (lyrics)

By Jenny Liu

Verse 1:

Do I truly believe that Your love has no bounds?

Do I truly believe I was lost but now am found?

Do I truly believe that You’ve given me more than I need?

I believe, help my unbelief!

Verse 2:

Do I truly believe that Your Word is alive and real?

Do I truly believe Your promises, despite how I feel?

Do I truly believe that You are worthy of all I can give?

I believe, help me believe

Chorus:

That You’re my shelter in the storm

You’re the lover of my soul

You’re my true and faithful friend

You are God and You’re my Lord

You’re the reason that I sing

You’re the worthy King of kings

You are more than enough for me

This I believe

Verse 3:

I choose to truly believe that this world is not my home

Yes, I truly believe that this life is not my own

I choose to truly believe that I’m loved because of the Cross

I believe, yes I believe

Bridge:

I believe that what I believe is really real (x3)

Lord I believe you

Chorus 2:

That You’re my shelter in the storm

You’re the lover of my soul

You’re my true and faithful friend

You are God and You’re my Lord

You’re the pearl of greatest price 

Only You can satisfy 

You are more than enough for me

I believe

“The Interview” follow-ups due Friday!

download

Hey TD!

Well, this Friday, we’ll be discussing our follow-ups to our interviews.  What?  You haven’t done your follow-up yet?  What’s that?  You forgot what you’re supposed to do?

No worries!  Contact one of your small group leaders right away!  They know exactly what you need to do and will help you prepare to do it.  That’s what leaders are for, right? 🙂 Just make sure it’s done by this Friday so you can continue experiencing God’s leading as you put yourself out there for His sake and for the love of your friends and family.

In addition, we will discuss some of the key ideas of Jenny’s message that will help cement your understanding of who Jesus is in our lives.  Here’s the audio mp3 to listen to and review:

“The Lordship of Christ” – Jenny

Put forth your best effort, TD, and you will reap the rewards! “‘They that honor Me will I honor,’ says the Lord.” – Arthur

Jenny Featured on Joni’s Blog

Hey TD!

We look forward to seeing you all at our TD Kick-Off meeting this Friday!  It will be a special time.

Did any of you see Joni’s blog today?  If not, here’s her post.  Oops, I mean here’s Jenny’s post!  Maybe we should form a ministry called Jenny and Friends 🙂 Click on the link if you want to see it on Joni’s blog.  Otherwise, here it is … and don’t miss the power of her message. – Arthur

Guest Post by Jenny Liu

  • By: Joni Eareckson Tada
  • Sept. 2, 2014
  • 1 Comment
  • Joni’s Posts

Jenny and Joni

“I have volunteered with Joni and Friends for years now, serving at Family Retreats, disability summits, and more. And in that time, Joni, I’ve always marveled how God has used one girl with a broken neck. Back then, I’m sure you felt forsaken by God. Like Jesus when He cried out, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” But as Ravi Zacharias once observed, at that very moment, at the height of Jesus’ sense of desolation, He was, in actual fact, in the very center of His Father’s will. Forty-seven years ago when you were face-down on a hospital Stryker frame, God and His will couldn’t have seemed more distant. But now, it is clear that when you felt the most forsaken, you were actually right in the center of His will. Not without tears and pain… but because of what God has done in your life, so many lives have been changed (including mine). I would not be where I am today and who I am today, were it not for your story, and the ministry of Joni and Friends :). May we all remember that when we feel the pain of deep suffering, it may well be the wedge of God’s will. Soli Deo Gloria!”

The Suffering of Forgiveness

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Hey TD,

This is a must read.  Truly forgiving someone can be one of the hardest things to do in life.  As this essay from our friend Jill Carattini of RZIM uncovers, it’s partly because there is suffering in forgiveness.  And this is at the heart of the gospel.  Please take the time to READ this and let it affect the way you live life for the Lord! – Arthur

The Suffering of Forgiveness

In four horrific months in 1994, at the urging of the Rwandan government, the poorer Hutu majority took up bayonets and machetes and committed genocide against the wealthier Tutsi minority. In the wake of this unspeakable tragedy, nearly a million people had been murdered.

In August of 2003, driven by overcrowded prisons and backlogged court systems, 50,000 genocide criminals, people who had already confessed to killing their neighbors, were released again into society. Murderers were sent back to their homes, back to neighborhoods literally destroyed at their own hands, to live beside the few surviving relatives of the very men, women, and children they killed.

With eyes still bloodshot at visions of a genocide it failed to see, the world still watches Rwanda, looking with a sense of foreboding, wondering what happens when a killer comes home; what happens when victims, widows, orphans, and murderers look each other in the eyes again; what happens when the neighbor who killed your family asks to be forgiven. For the people of Rwanda, the description of the Hebrew prophet is a reality with which they live: “And if anyone asks them, ‘What are these wounds on your chest?’ the answer will be, ‘The wounds I received in the house of my friends’” (Zechariah 13:6). How does a culture bear the wounds of genocide?

For Steven Gahigi, that question is answered in a valley of dry bones which cannot be forgotten. An Anglican clergyman who lost 142 members of his family in the Rwandan genocide, he thought he had lost the ability to forgive. Though his inability plagued him, he had no idea how to navigate through a forgiveness so costly. “I prayed until one night I saw an image of Jesus Christ on the cross…I thought of how he forgave, and I knew that I and others could also do it.”(1) Inspired by this vision, Gahigi somehow found the words to begin preaching forgiveness. He first did this in the prisons where Hutu perpetrators sat awaiting trial, and today he continues in neighborhoods where the victims of genocide live beside its perpetrators. For Gahigi, wounds received in the house of friends can only be soothed with truth-telling, restitution, interdependence, and reconciliation, all of which he finds accessible because of Christ.

In fact, the work of reconciliation that is taking place in Rwanda in lives on every side of the genocide may be difficult to describe apart from the cross of Christ. While it is true that forgiveness can be explained in therapeutic terms, that the act of forgiving is beneficial to the forgiver, and forgiveness releases the victim from the one who has wronged them, from chains of the past, and a cell of resentment; what Rwandans are facing today undoubtedly reaches far beyond this. While forgiveness is certainly a form of healing in lives changed forever by genocide, it is also very much a form of suffering. Miroslav Volf, himself familiar with horrendous violence in Croatia and Serbia, describes forgiveness as the exchange of one form of suffering for another, modeled to the world by the crucified Christ. He writes, “[I]n a world of irreversible deeds and partisan judgments redemption from the passive suffering of victimization cannot happen without the active suffering of forgiveness.”(2) For Rwandans, this is a reality well understood.

And for Christ, who extends to the world the possibility of reconciliation by embodying it, this suffering, this willingness to be broken by the very people with whom he is trying to reconcile, is the very road to healing and wholeness. “More than just the passive suffering of an innocent person,” writes Volf, “the passion of Christ is the agony of a tortured soul and a wrecked body offered as a prayer for the forgiveness of the torturers.”(3) There is no clearer picture of Zechariah’s depiction of wounds received at the house of friends than in a crucifixion ordered by an angry crowd that lauded Christ as king only hours before. And yet, it is this house of both murderous and weeping friends for which Jesus prays on the cross: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

Far from the suggestion of a moralistic god watching a world of suffering and brokenness from a distance, the costly ministry of reconciliation comes to a world of violence and victims through arms that first bore the weight of the cross. For Steven Gahigi, who facilitates the difficult dialogue now taking place in Rwanda, who helps perpetrators of genocide to build homes for their victims’ families, forgiveness is indeed a active form of suffering, but one through which Christ has paved the hopeful, surprising way of redemption. Today, wherever forgiveness is a form of suffering, Christ accompanies the broken, leading both the guilty and the victimized through valleys of dry bones and signs of a coming resurrection.

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

(1) Johann Christoph Arnold, Why Forgive? (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis books, 2010), 202.
(2) Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace (Nashville: Abingdon, 1996), 125.