Follow TD’s New IG Account!

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Hey TD!

For those of you with Instagram, TD now has an account, so you can stay connected that way. Follow us at Total Devotion MBCLA!

Here’s our first post – a great recap video of last week’s discussion, courtesy of Michael Chan of the TD Media Team!

“What’s Really Real?” Recap Video

For the full discussion, see ’20-’21 TD Opening Night videos.

Why Don’t We See Christians Living the Transformed Life?

Hey TD,

That is a very good and convicting question, isn’t it?  The fact is that this is the number one reason given by non-Christians as to why they reject the gospel.  We talk, tweet, an type so much about the gospel, but living like we really believe the gospel and God’s promises is another story.

RZIM apologist, Michael Ramsden, shares some thoughts on this in the video above.  TD actually saw this Q and A live at UCLA a few years ago, as some of you may recall.

Please take a listen, pray about how your can live a life with Christ within your communities.  Then, act on it! – Arthur

What Will You Give Jesus? Day 9

During our small group time at “A TD Christmas” Michael shared his “gift” to Jesus – reflections on his past, and how to “do Christmas better” going forward.  I thought it would be really useful and helpful for us to keep in mind in these final days before Christmas … and for the rest of the holiday season!  Thanks, Michael! – Arthur

What I Would Have Told My Younger Self

Knowing that I’ll be spending my last (ever!) semester of school at home in the coming months, I reflected on what advice I would give to myself at the beginning of high school, when I still felt I had life figured all out. Turns out I didn’t, and hopefully you can relate.

Here are seven things I would have done differently during the holiday season:

1. Appreciate what you normally can’t or don’t

Go outdoors (your computer can wait)! Or enjoy a moment of silence – reflect on your year, pray knowing that your innermost feelings can be trusted to God, and ponder life’s intriguing mysteries.

2. Don’t let possessions possess you

This year, I was shocked to find that shops were opening on Thanksgiving night to attract customers before Black Friday normally starts. As a result, people were sacrificing valuable family time and cutting off their dinners early to line up for bargains; but when you think about it, are the “benefits” really worth the cost?

Within the context of gift-giving, exchanging expensive presents is one way to show someone you care, but not the only way. Time is money, too! What about treating that friend to dinner and hiking on a trail that overlooks the magnificent Los Angeles nighttime cityscape?

3. A positive attitude brings good cheer

Even if you’re not a big fan of this season, there’s no need to ruin it for others. For the past few years, I’ve thought that I was too old for the fun of Christmas, so I spent my time working and studying at the expense of the rest of my family’s experience. Looking back, I realize how big of a difference a small change in attitude could have made.

4. Take the time to decorate yourself

The tree is in the living room, the lights are up, the fireplace is lit…but remember that as Christ’s temple, you could use some decoration too! Consider how you could clean up bad habits and patch the holes (the inconsistencies) of your life. Then, when others look at you, you’ll be representing the body of Christ as best you can!

5. Give others the gift of…you!

Whether it’s volunteering, caroling at the convalescent home, or just lending an ear to listen, there are so many valuable contributions you can make to your community. Be proactive in finding these opportunities, and you’ll be blessed in return. Read Luke 14:13 if you need some inspiration.

6. Do yourself a favor and set some goals

Make a list, check it twice. If you’ve been naughty, resolve to be nice. Stick to your goal, no matter the price. Talk to a counselor, should you need some advice.

7. Remember Romans 14:8

Paul kindly reminds us that “For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.” In every situation that you’re in, make decisions that reflect who and what you live for!

– Michael Ruan

Is Our Future Determined or Free?

Yes, indeed, Linus, it does!  Many non-Christians and Christians alike are adept and skilled at asking difficult questions, thinking themselves intellectual or smart for doing so.  It is easy to ask questions.  However, it takes much diligence to arrive at a sound, reasonable, life impacting answer.  That’s what Michael Ramsden does.

We’ve enjoyed knowing and hearing from Michael for well over a decade now.  As a world class Christian apologist based in Oxford, UK, with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, Michael’s life is devoted to helping believers think and thinkers believe.  Through the God-given gifts of Scripture and reason, his sound theology (accompanied by his classic British wit) has helped thousands think through ultimate issues and arrive at answers that satisfy the mind and touch the heart. 

Here, he takes an interesting approach to an age old question.  May it help spark your thinking and drive you sharpen your theology! – Arthur

Questions of freedom and destiny have been raised in every generation. Do we exercise choice, or has everything already been decided? Is our future determined or free? The resultant mental gymnastics leave many feeling confused and others feeling disappointed. Christians insist that nothing takes God by surprise. On the other hand, Christians throughout the ages reject the kind of fatalism that is seen in some parts of the world.

The problem with the question as it is presented is that it is not nearly difficult enough. In order to truly appreciate the magnitude of what we are discussing, we must first deal with an even greater question. And it is this: Imagine if I were able to stop time right now. What would you be thinking? What would you be feeling? The answer is nothing.

In the absence of time, we cannot think or feel or do. Everything is frozen. People sometimes complain that I speak too quickly—the problem being that there is not sufficient time for them to think about what has been said. I always try to cheer myself by saying that at least something has been said for them to think about! But it is a fair criticism because in the absence of sufficient time we cannot think things through. In the absence of time altogether, however, we cannot even begin to think, as there is literally no time to think in.

The Christian understanding is that we live and have our existence in a space-time continuum. “[We] belong to eternity stranded in time,” observes Michael Card.(1) This also means that before God created there was no time; in other words, time is not co-eternal with God. But Christians also attest that God was a thinking, feeling, doing Being even before God created. Can you imagine a Being who is able to think in the absence of time? Of course not, but the God Christians profess not only exists outside of time, God can think and act in the absence of time.

Just reading this may be enough to make us feel overwhelmed. And so it should. Whenever we think about the person of God, we should rightly feel that we have come across something truly awesome. And maybe this is part of the problem. We are not faced with a logical contradiction here. Rather, we are faced with the reality of what it means for God to exist, for God to be God. You and I are only able to think in time, and thus, God confronts us with choices: “Choose this day whom you will serve,” “choose life” and so on (Joshua 24:15; Deuteronomy 30:19). But God, as Christians believe, who is outside of time, sees all of history stretched out before Him. The problem comes, therefore, when the attempt is made to confine God within time. But this needn’t be the case. For Christians, a proper understanding of the tension drives us back both to God’s divine nature and to our knees, acknowledging how wonderful God is.

This understanding also helps Christians with the issue of eternal life. Many people when confronted with the idea of eternity find the idea frightening, tedious, or absurd. What could one possibly do with all of that time? Once again, the dilemma arises because we are captive both to the passage of time and too small a view of who God actually is. People also then ask: if God truly knows all things, then why did God create knowing that we would experience pain in a fallen world? But here Christians attest that God did not create the world and then think of a plan to rescue it. The book of Revelation depicts that the Lamb was slain before the foundations of the world were laid. This does not mean that the crucifixion took place in our space-time history before creation (there was no space-history for it to take place in). What it does mean is that even before God created, God also knew the cost—the suffering of his own Son—to redeem creation and unite us with the Father. God didn’t count that cost too great—and hence Christians sing of God’s amazing grace.

Let me conclude with the following. The Christian God is big enough to be able to say, “I know the plans I have for you… plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). There is no hope without a secure future, and the future is frightening in the absence of hope. Only God is big enough to bring these two things together—hope and a future—and this is what God has done for us.

Michael Ramsden is European director of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in the United Kingdom.