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

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TD Prep for “Potent Once More” – Lessons on Loyalty We Need to Learn

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Hey TD!

That’s my family!  I love my family (but who are those two Latino guys?)!  What’s also an extreme blessing is that they are also a part of my spiritual family, for which I really thank God for!

The pictures above were taken last week at Joni and Friends FAMILY Retreat, where over 40 of us from MBCLA were richly blessed and captivated by the power and beauty of loyalty.  There’s really nothing like it. We were overwhelmed by the power of parents’ extreme loyalty to their severely disabled children, as well as the mutual loyalty of both typical siblings and siblings with disabilities alike.

We also ached for families shattered by disloyalty – where parents (and even siblings) did not remain faithful and committed to their own families affected by disability during the valleys (in some cases) and opportunities (in other cases) of life.  Instead, they bailed on their families to either just escape from their situation (usually the father) or to escape and fulfill their dreams. Cowardice or selfishness.  In both cases, the family is left to fend for themselves.

One essential core life value was re-affirmed to me: You never leave your family.

One man I met at Family Retreat cried on my shoulder under this conviction, after having divorced his wife of 23 years, leaving her with their disabled daughter.  My prayer for him was that they will reunite and become a family again.

A Powerful Apologetic

Friends, one of the most potentially powerful apologetic tools we have is the power of God in an authentically committed Christian family.  That came through loud and clear at retreat.  But what is also essential and powerful is the display of God’s power in a spiritual family (sometimes it includes your biological family and sometimes it doesn’t); for when we are asking people to come to Christ, we are also inviting them to become part of a spiritual family.  But if that family isn’t extraordinarily faithful and loyal to God and each other (Luke 10:27), displaying undeniable evidence of the value of life lived under the Spirit’s reign and value system, who is really going to buy into the claims Christians make?

The fact is, one of the biggest hindrances to people coming to Christ is … Christians; and it’s not really the straight up hypocritical “Christians” that even non-Christians know aren’t really Christians.  It’s the modern-day Pharisee-like Christians; the ones who really live pretty much under the same value system as everyone else does, just a little nicer, cleaner, and more religious. But that’s not true loyalty to the heart and soul of Christ, whose value system is VERY different.

If the world is going to believe in the power of Christ to transform lives, they had better see transformed lives!  That is, they had better see a loyalty that so values, so cherishes, so treasures Christ and His Kingdom, to the point of unexplainable joyful self-denial (“If any man wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself …” Matt. 16:24).

A Christianity without loyalty to the point of self-denial is not a Christianity worth inquiring about.  It is impotent. 

Recently, I came across the following lessons on loyalty from Pastor Aroboto in Ireland that I thought would be helpful reminders for us that I mildly added to as we continue our Summer TD series this Friday, “Potent Once More”.  If we don’t live this out, we are letting the world know that His Kingdom isn’t really all that great, not really worth sacrificing for.  That is the very opposite message that Jesus’ and the early church’s lives sent the world when it “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6):

SIX LESSONS ON LOYALTY

1. LOYALTY DOES NOT WAVER. Loyalty involves the steady involvement and commitment to our relationships and responsibilities to God and His kingdom. It also suggests the presence of likely turbulent factors that will constantly attempt to tip the scales of our allegiance … Some of these forces might even be of legitimate nature, making them potentially the most dangerous.

2. LOYALTY IS WHAT YOU DO, NOT WHAT YOU SAY. Talk, they say, is cheap … Loyalty must be action backed. It can and does not thrive on mere verbal assurances; it must reveal itself in all that we do.

3. LOYALTY IS A WILLING DECISION. Forced compliance is fake loyalty. It is not uncommon to observe this brand of loyalty in some circles, both in secular and faith-based organizations. However loyalty must not be faked, else it will snowball into technical sabotage. This is a crime that attracts consequences and as such must be avoided at all costs. You must make up your mind to align yourself with God’s will as far as loyalty is concerned. Remember, the bible clearly states that “Be not deceived, God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man sows, this he will also reap.” Gal 6:7. It suffices to say then that when we allow ourselves to get embroiled in disloyalty we run the risk of reaping the same.

4. LOYALTY IS DEMANDING. Loyalty will usually put demands on you. When we don’t become comfortable with this truth, disloyalty becomes inevitable. You will be called upon to do the unthinkable sometimes, and you must be careful not to be misguided by what may seem as demeaning tasks and responsibilities. Sometimes promotion comes in the most unfashionable assignments.

5. LOYALTY WILL INVOLVE SACRIFICE. This is the real deal. Your allegiance to God, the ministry, your family, and your friends will call for seasons of personal sacrifice. What is sacrifice? It is the act of giving something precious and of high value at one’s expense. The kind of loyalty that does not require you to make regular sacrifices does not really exist. If it does, it is only in the imagination. The point here is that you must be willing to accompany your allegiance to the object of your loyalty with regular giving of time, money and resources. It may not be convenient but it is usually necessary.

6. LOYALTY TO GOD WILL BE REWARDED. The fruit of loyalty in all its shades often results in surprising rewards. As Coach Wooden taught, faith is trusting that if you do what you ought, things will turn out the way they ought. Let this motivate and encourage you.

For further Study Psalm 84:10-11, Matthew 26:33-35, 26:69-75, 2 Chronicles 11:13-16, Exodus 17:8-13, Psalm 78:8

Let’s get to work, TD!

– Arthur

What Does the Bible Say About Loyalty?

Hey TD!

Greetings from Joni and Friends Family Retreat!

I had the opportunity dialogue with a pastor this week who was asking about my lessons learned at TD, while sharing a few struggles he has with his own people at his church.  One mutual observation was the loyalty and commitment people ultimately have … to themselves .

And it is pervasive:

In “Job Hopping is the New Normal,” the Wall Street Journal asserts that mobility is the new way of life for the younger generation, and that Millennials expect to stay a their jobs for less than 3 years in pursuit of better opportunities.

When asked about the perception that he is not a great friend, one world-renowned athlete recently responded by saying, “Friends come and go, but banners hang forever.”

In an article on healthy living, a Boise State psychology professor concludes that you need to value yourself above others and not hold back when it comes to you, ending the article with, “Here’s to making a commitment to YOU.”

It is precisely this commitment to ourselves that is the source of the death sentence we all face, as ultimately manifested in torn relationships – with God and with each other. Inconvenient loyalty and undying commitment to God and each other in the face of seemingly “better” options and opportunities – manifested by the ability to actually live life in order in every aspect of our lives – is a very powerful apologetic.

This will be something worth discussing and honing at TD on Friday!  It is they key to living potent Christian lives for the long-haul.  Here’s an article below from gotquestions?.org on what the Bible says about loyalty:

Question: “What does the Bible say about loyalty?”

Answer:The wordloyaltybrings to mind a powerful sense of belonging and solidarity. With it comes the idea of wholehearted fidelity coupled with unswerving devotion and duty. In the Bible, the concept of loyalty is purely relational. This means our whole being is thoroughly committed to someone (Joshua 24:15). Such loyalty is expressed to us in both the divine and human realms as given to us in the first two commandments: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength,” and “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:29-31; cf.John 15:13;1 John 3:16).

God established the very essence of loyalty through His covenant relationship with His people: “Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who maintains covenant loyalty with those who love Him and keep His commandments, to a thousand generations” (Deuteronomy 7:9). Through His covenant, God’s people are assured of His never-ending love from which no believer can ever be separated (Romans 8:35-39). God is promising His loyalty and commitment to us. Although God’s covenants with man are unilateral—He promises to fulfill them by Himself—there is still an admonition to loyalty on man’s part. For God has made it clear that “if you ever forget the LORD your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed” (Deuteronomy 8:19). Those who prove to be disloyal are those who prove they do not belong to Him (1 John 3:24). But for believers, we have the promise that even “if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself” (2 Timothy 2:13).

In our relationships with one another, we are called to steadfast loyalty. Paul speaks of his “loyal companion” inPhilippians 4:3. This unknown person is possibly Titus or Silas, but whoever it was, he was one who labored faithfully with Paul. Then there’s Ruth, the very embodiment of loyalty as demonstrated in her complete devotion and duty to her mother-in-law: “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God” (Ruth 1:16).

For true believers, loyalty is shown in our commitment to Jesus and His gospel (Mark 8:35;Romans 1:16). It is the acknowledgement that Jesus Christ is our sole source of authority and salvation (Matthew 28:18;John 14:6). Such devotion and commitment should echo the attitude of the apostle Peter, who said, “If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 4:11).

As Jesus’ disciples, we demonstrate our loyalty and self-sacrificing allegiance to Him by following His command: “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me” (Mark 8:34). But even when we fail to be completely loyal and steadfast to Him, we have His assurance that He will be loyal to us: “And surely I am with you always, even to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20b).

Read more:http://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-loyalty.html#ixzz3g2pBedum

– Arthur