“True Love in a Time of Crisis” – An Important Sabbath Checkup From Ravi

“True Love in a Time of Crisis” – Ravi Zacharias

Hey TD!

Blessed Lord’s Day to you all!

On this Lord’s Day, I want to encourage you spend protracted time before God, just you and Him.  With more time on your hands than you’ve had in a long while, use some of this time to be Sabbath time – a time of real rest … IN God.  Real Sabbath is not more time to yourself OF yourself, but more beautiful time with God, in His beautiful healing, transforming presence.  It’s also a good time to let Him perform periodic check-ups on our souls.

With the coronavirus rampant in our world, this is an important time as any for us to check who we really are, what we’re really about, and what we’re really made of.  This spliced 15-minute message from Ravi gives solid checkpoints to bring before God, praying for His adjustment and realignment, so we can be who we desires and made us to be.

May His grace be with you as you meet with Him! – Arthur

Ember Ngur’s Powerful Testimony and Q&A (mp3)

 

Ember’s Testimony/Q&A (mp3)

Hey TD!

Wow, what a powerful and moving V4V weekend that was for those who participated.  God was in our midst stirring our hearts and challenging the way we live our lives. One highlight was Ember Ngur’s sharing and Q&A at the Hsiehs’ home on Saturday.

Ember Ngur’s Testimony/Q&A

0:00 – 15:12  Ember’s Story

Q&A

15:39 – What happens to kids after doing foster therapy?

16:35 – How did you get involved with CarePortal?

17:45 – Are there qualifications for fostering? What are they?

18:37 – Why did you move to CA?

*19:35 – Where there times when you didn’t want to love someone? How did you overcome it? Did you have any kids that were hard to love?

*23:06 – What kind of person was your father like? The kind of person who can listen to God’s plan and do everything. What did you do after?

27:38 – What are your siblings doing?

30:00 – Did you have a community to support your family in fostering?

30:54 – Did all your siblings respond well for taking in foster children?

31:50 – Fostering is supposed to help kids. Why are the statistics so bad with respect to the kids who have gone through foster care?

*33:21 – What would you say to a youth group like ours – suburban, middle class, cautious, achievement oriented, etc.? Any “kick-in-the-pants” charge or encouragement for us?

39:00 – Do you have any amazing stories of transformation where the kids completely turned their lives around?

41:33 – How did you guys approach the kids that faced a lot of trauma and weren’t really connected with society?

*43:31 – “Comfortable” is our church’s middle name. Can you just give us what you really want to say – what the Lord wants you to tell us, without worrying about offending us. In other words, preach it, Sista!

46:10 – With the last young man you mentioned, how did he do after leaving home after a year? Do children know that they just have to go? Or does it cause more feelings of loss after being in a beautiful home and then having to leave?

48:58 – How did differences in culture (Nigerian/American) affect how your family fostered?

52:03 – The stats on fostering (racially)

*54:34 – Ember leads a powerful and stirring time of prayer and beseeching God on TD’s behalf, that God would spectacularly transform the members of TD into courageous Christ-followers and Christ-ambassadors.

* The entire Q&A is worth listening to, and these are particularly poignant.

How Online Dating Impacts Health

By creating a seemingly endless choice of romantic partners for its users, online dating apps have facilitated a "hook-up" culture that's not conducive to settling down and is driving loneliness, anxiety and depression. (Composite: Letty Avila. Image source: iStock.)

Hey  TD!

I read this article by USC Dornsife’s Susan Bell and thought it an interesting topic of discussion.  It’s not an article written from a Christian perspective, but I think brings up some good points to think through, pray about, and discuss.

What do you think of online dating? What do you think of the research results?  Many in our church have used online dating services, while others swear against it.  What guidelines do we find in the Bible that would help us think about this more clearly?  Does this research have broader implications than just for dating?

This would be great to discuss with your small group members and leaders on several levels!

For better or worse: Looking for love in the internet age

Online dating and social media have revolutionized how we look for love. USC Dornsife’s Julie Albright reveals how this digital technology has far-reaching effects on our health and well-being. [4 ¾ min read]

By creating a seemingly endless choice of romantic partners for its users, online dating apps have facilitated a “hook-up” culture that’s not conducive to settling down and is driving loneliness, anxiety and depression. (Composite: Letty Avila. Image source: iStock.)

When online dating began, there was no swiping left or right, no photo-shopped selfies or alluring videos, just lonely singles pouring out their hearts in internet chat rooms.

Initially, there was a certain shame attached to online dating, Julie Albright says. “But people were really opening up and talking about things, maybe for the first time. It was all about getting to know the inner person, and many people felt like they’d met their soul mate.”

The original stigma may have gone as online dating went mainstream with the dawn of the mobile internet era, but Albright, a lecturer in psychology at USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, says everything else has changed, too, as the app economy commodified people and relationships into something far more superficial.

Online dating is now the second or third most common way — depending on age — for Americans to meet romantic partners. In Albright’s upcoming book, Left to Their Own Devices: How Digital Natives are Reshaping the American Dream (Prometheus Books, 2019), she describes how it has altered the landscape of love and romance in the 21st century and reveals how the ways we now look for love are affecting our relationships, our health and our well-being — even the very fabric of society.

 

The loneliness paradox

Online dating creates the idea that there are thousands of romantic possibilities available to us. However, that brings problems of its own, Albright warns, because when faced with a vast array of choices, paradoxically, we’re unable to choose.

“We keep thinking there are endless choices, that maybe someone better will come along,” she said. “But at the end of the day, people who don’t choose are going to end up lonely because they’re not in a relationship. You have to choose and you have to commit to build something.”

But by facilitating a “hookup” culture, dating apps have created an environment that’s not conducive to settling down.

Dating has become a sport, Albright argues, rather than a means to build a long-term relationship.

“You couldn’t talk to 300 women in a night in a bar, but with a dating app, you can throw out a thousand hooks and get 300 bites.”

Traditions like marriage or buying a home, she says, provide a guiding north star by which people can navigate their lives. Now, young digital natives, hyper-attached to digital technologies and no longer choosing commitment and marriage, are unhooking from traditional social structures and are cast adrift — a process Albright calls “coming untethered.”

“Taking the endgame out of courtship changes the dynamic of what dating is about. If you’re just dating in a constant churn, there’s no future and no hope on the horizon,” she said. “Instead, it becomes all about experience.”

The result, Albright argues, is that people find themselves lonely or anxious without knowing why.

“You would think we’re more connected than ever,” Albright says, “yet paradoxically, as we become increasingly enraptured and mesmerized by our devices, we’re separating from one another.”

A warped sense of self

 

Noting that we develop our sense of self through the reflected appraisal of others, Albright warns that people are drifting far from their true selves in constructing their dating profiles. The end result can undermine self-esteem because others are giving validation for a self that the person knows to be false.

This “virtual mirror” is also causing anxiety and depression, Albright notes, as people feel they can never live up to the images they see, even although they’re comparing themselves to an “other” that doesn’t really exist.

Doubly addictive

Even if we know online dating is making us depressed, it’s not easy to stop, Albright argues. She compares using dating apps to playing one-armed bandits in Las Vegas. “Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and that’s why you keep going back for more,” she says, noting the power of random reinforcement as a behavioral driver.

And that’s not all. Dating apps and social media also fuel a narcissistic desire for attention, satisfying primitive psychological needs for attention, affirmation and validation.

“People can get very hooked on that,” Albright says.

Even if we can overcome our addiction to dating apps, abandoning them in favor of real-life encounters isn’t so easy either. Meeting in real life now makes many people nervous, Albright says, as subtle conversation and flirting skills are lost through lack of practice, causing people to feel increasingly anxious and socially awkward.

As a result, many younger people prefer texting to talking. This can translate into fewer partners as digital hyper-connectivity replaces physical relationships.

The good news

Albright does see some positive aspects to online dating.

Early indicators show that relationships started online may be more successful. Online dating and social media can help people meet someone based on common interests and values that can predict a lasting relationship. They can also enable users to meet potential partners outside their normal social sphere, leading to more interracial relationships.

Postponing marriage may mean couples are more mature and marriages later in life tend to be more stable — good news, too, for older women, who tend to be more successful dating online than younger women.

“Online dating does open up new doors for people by giving them a place to begin again,” Albright says. For older people coming out of a divorce or a long relationship, particularly, and unused to dating, it offers hope.

And Albright’s advice for finding true love?

Avoid creating a false online persona, and take time to develop intimacy. But above all: Switch off your phone.

“Spend time together, get to know each other, look into each other’s eyes and make building that relationship a sacred space. Just make sure it’s without the intrusion of a device.”

TD Fri. – “How We Are Supposed to Live”

Image result for how should we live?

Hey TD!

In the Fall, we began our year-long theme, Engage: Living Life in HD, by looking at the Upward prong of life and how to engage with God.

In January, we began to explore the Outward aspect of our life and calling by going to the root of any God-ordained interaction with people – love.  Before meaningfully engaging with anyone, we need to better understand what love is and how it grounds us and calls us. (See below for the mp3 message and Table of Contents to review)

This would be a great Friday to invite your friends!

This Friday, with understanding true love as our anchor and catapult, we will look at how we are supposed to live our lives, according to the God who designed and created us.

Make TD this Friday the beginning of a new direction in your life! This would be a great Friday to invite your friends! – Arthur

“Straight Talk on Love” (mp3) Arthur (Table of Contents)

0:00 – 1:02                      Opening Prayer

1:05 – 11:33                    Why are we to serve the world?

11:33 – 15:55                  Grounding Ourselves in Who God Is

15:55 – 22:25                  The Ontology of Love

22:25 –   29:29                A Closer Look at Love: Real Love vs. True Love

29:50 –   47:27                Q: Can you love if you don’t believe in God?

47:40 –  1:08:00             Q: What about non-Christians who love more than Christians do?

1:08:00 – 1:09:16           Closing Prayer

TD Fri. – “Straight Talk About Love”

LOVE

Hey TD!

In preparing for the topic of Impacting Our World, I have ended up spending most of my prep time on the topic of love – the nature of love, real love vs. true love, like vs. love, levels of love, love vs. lust, whether you need to believe in God to love, etc.

So love will be the topic this Friday.  It is necessary to explore and understand this prior to delving into a discussion about impacting our world, as is indeed love that “makes the world go ’round.”  Make plans to come out to TD this Friday! – Arthur

Christian Love Defined

Image result for christian love

Hey TD!

I read this devotion from Tabletalk recently and thought I should pass it on to you. It’s based on a chapter of Scripture I memorized long ago and recite each week to this day. May it help you in your “love” life! – Arthur

John 15:12–13

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

 

In an age when love is frequently lauded but often misunderstood, we must have a proper view of love. Modern culture bombards us with messages telling us that love is a mere feeling, that we will never disapprove of those whom we truly love, and that everything done in the name of love is right. But the Scriptures instruct us otherwise. God’s Word makes it clear that true love is costly.

Jesus, in today’s passage, emphasizes the cost of love. Having told us to abide in His love (John 15:1–11), Jesus begins to unfold what abiding in His love looks like. Love means loving others as Jesus has loved us, particularly in laying down our lives for our friends (vv. 12–13). Our Savior obviously makes an allusion here to His atoning death on the cross that turns away the wrath of God (Rom. 3:21–26), and this means we must first consider what laying down our lives for our friends does not entail. After all, none of us is the spotless Lamb of God sent to save sinners, so none of us can lay down our lives in exactly the same manner as Jesus. Christian theologians have long recognized this truth. Augustine of Hippo, for example, comments on it at length in a sermon on today’s passage.

We cannot love others as Jesus has loved us in the sense of atoning for their sin; however, there are other ways in which we can imitate the love of Christ. For example, Christ loved us so much that He was willing to leave His place of glory with the Father in order to pay for our sins on the cross (Phil. 2:5–11). We, likewise, can refuse to exploit our privileges in order to meet the needs of others. Furthermore, Jesus spent His life in service to others, healing the sick and teaching God’s truth. Similarly, we can spend our lives in service to others, helping even those who seem the least deserving of our assistance and pointing people to Christ.

Some of us may literally have to die in order to save another person’s life, but that will be rare. More likely, we will lay down our lives in a multitude of smaller ways. Parents can set aside their right to rest quietly after a hard day of work in order to spend time with their children. Employers, when appropriate, can refrain from giving overly harsh but deserved criticism of employees in order to work alongside them and help them improve. Retirees can give up part of the spare time they labored years to earn in order to volunteer at their churches. Whatever our station in life, we should look for ways to spend our lives for the sake of others.

 

CORAM DEO Living before the face of God

Christian love is costly, and it looks for ways to give of itself to others. Every day, there are little ways we can sacrifice some of our rights and privileges in order to love others, especially those in the body of Christ. Let us look this day to give up something in order to do good to another person.


FOR FURTHER STUDY
  • Ruth 4
  • Song of Solomon 8:6
  • Mark 14:3–9
  • 1 John 3:16–18

TD Fri. – “Out of This World”- final study on Rom. 12

Image result for love that is out of this world

Hey TD,

I’m excited to wrap up both our TD summer and our journey through Romans 12 this Friday with a message on Romans 12:16-21! In our study of Romans 12, we’ve seen that Christians are transformed people who are also continually being transformed into the likeness of their Savior and Master, Jesus Christ.

In these last 6 verses of Romans 12, Paul tells us what a transformed life looks like when we interact with anyone in the world, no matter who they are. No one is excluded—not the lowly, not unbelievers, not even our enemies. The humility it takes to follow these commands is out of this world. It’s OK to gulp when you read these imperatives. Do you have what it takes to be a peacemaker? To seek peace and do good even with those who seek your harm? Most people would look at this passage and scoff: “Don’t be so naive, that’s just not the way the world works.”

But that’s exactly the point. What this world needs is otherworldly love and grace. Join us as we explore our calling to reflect the only One who has given exactly what the world needs.

– Robert

Romans 12:16

16 Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.17 Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. 19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Come Serve at SOS Saturday!

Image result for serve one another in love

Hey TD, it’s time for another edition of Serve Our Society Saturday!  This Saturday, we will once again visit our friends at the So. Pasadena Care Center.  Our visits mean so much to them that we cannot NOT go!  They really look forward to our visits.

Meet at the Hsiehs’ at 9:30 a.m.  and get picked up by noon. There will be no lunch this week due to a meeting.

Make the time to do what’s good and right, TD, and you know God will bless you as you do!

“‘They that honor Me, will I honor,” says the Lord …” 1 Sam. 2:30

TD Fri. – “On Love and Desire”

Hey TD!

Due to our shortened December schedule, we will only be having one regular Friday TD meeting this month.  This Friday, we will take another step toward rebuilding our life in Christ as I lead us from evaluating our personal infrastructure last month to  evaluating the core of who we are, in a lesson entitled, “On Love and Desire.”

Since this is a series that builds each month upon the previous months, I would highly encourage you to review last month’s teaching on “Rebuilding Our Infrastructure” .  Just click and spread it out over the next few days, making sure you are solid on the material by Friday night.

See you Friday! – Arthur

 

TD Friday: Ohana Means Family and Family Means …

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Hey TD’ers!

My family returned recently from the most externally beautiful and the most internally and familially beautiful trip we’ve ever had together.  In a word, it was … Narnia … for us.  My heart was so full of richness, it hurt (and still does).  There was a  mutual loyalty and friendship felt that’s hard to describe. “Heaven” was an oft used word. One phrase my boys uttered a few times was, “Ohana means family, and family means no one gets left behind or forgotten.”

It made me think of what heaven’s designed to be like.  The external beauty will surely be there … and so will the internal beauty and richness of loyal friendships, with God and His ohana.  And if our friends (Christian and non-Christian alike) are going to get an idea of heaven, it ought to be via seeing or experiencing authentic Christian “ohana” relationships, where life is laid down one for another (like Christ did) and no one in the “ohana” gets left behind or forgotten.

The Christian church isn’t lacking in verbal arguments or defenses, or even in niceness and nice gestures; but it IS lacking in sacrificial Christ-like others-centered commitment in its Christian “ohana” relationships. And that is a damaging apologetic.  Who wants to join a “family” that isn’t even loyal to each other? Even gangs know better than this (see my message).

Jesus said, “By THIS all people will know that you are My disciples …”  What’s “THIS”? He answers, “… if you have love for one another.”  The word used for love there is agape, the most committed, determined, loyal kind of love in the Greek language; the word used for God’s love.

It’s this kind of demonstrative apologetic that we need to develop … and it is HARD.  But it is what we’ll be working on this Friday at TD in our discussion groups.

“Improving Our Impotence” (mp3 – Arthur)

So, in preparation for this vital discussion, please review my last message, “Improving Our Impotence,” as well as the recent blog posts on loyalty and friendship.

Until TD! – Arthur