Kodi Lee – Blind with Autism on “America’s Got Talent” – it’s way more than just a great story …

Kodi’s performance on America’s Got Talent

Hey TD,

The abortion debate is in full swing and the United States Supreme Court upheld Indiana’s legislation that requires burial or cremation of a baby’s body following an abortion. Yet, it declined to consider the constitutionality of Indian’s law that bans abortion based on sex, race, or disability.

Planned Parenthood’s founder, Margaret Sanger advocated for the compulsory segregation or sterilization of the “unfit” as well as eliminating the “unfit” before they are born, so they would not become a burden on society.  What a slippery slope. Who gets to determine who is “unfit”? Who gets to define a “burden” and the criteria used to determine that? Who determines that one life is more valuable and meaningful than another? On what basis? Says who?

If God created us and actively gives and sustains the lives of every human being on the planet each and every moment, is stands to reason that He, the Author of Life itself, alone has the right to determine its worth.  What we find in the Bible is that God bestows inherent dignity and worth to EVERY human being, as each human – no matter how different he/she is than others – is valuable and bears His image.

Watching Kodi Lee’s amazing performance on America’s Got Talent illustrated that for me, as many would consider him “unfit” to live and a drain on society’s resources.  Others argue on the basis of “compassion” for those with disabilities, stating that eliminating them would be a compassionate act, putting them out of their misery and sparing them the indignity of being reminded every day they’re alive that they aren’t “normal.” Who would want to live that way? That’s cruelty, they argue.

In my experience with those with disabilities and their families, I have found exactly the opposite to be true for both the disabled and their families.  Many affected by disabilities are actually quite happy, and their families feel immensely blessed to have them in their families.

Watching Kodi and his family affirmed all of that for me.  We are not defined by our abilities or lack of them.  We are defined by the value God places on us and goes straight to who we are – God’s image bearers. – Arthur

 

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A Great Time at the SCC Solo Tour! What Next?

SCC Solo 2

TD @ SCC Solo Tour Concert at The Wiltern – 4/12/19

SCC Concert at the Hsiehs’ for Show Hope

Hey TD!

What an amazing time together at the Steven Curtis Chapman Solo Tour at the Wiltern!  Thank you, Show Hope!  Our family is so glad you got to hear his heart, his story, his ministry, and his music (and his ridiculous guitar skills!).

As I always say, when you have a chance to be around greatness, seize it.  Though many of you had never heard of him (though he’s had over 50 #1 hits, has over 70 Dove Awards, 5 Grammy Awards, etc.), you were willing to see the big picture and be open to new experiences and opportunities. Many of you expressed how unexpectedly blessed you were.

As SCC was sharing about his family’s own adoption journey and the work at Show Hope, like many of you, I had tears in my eyes.  Helping kids that don’t have families is a work that God wants us, His church, to be involved in.  At TD, we have done that through Voiceless For the Voiceless (V4V), visiting the orphanage each month, serving at summer camps for orphans in China, and with our monthly sponsorships of 4 boys in Africa (through Rafiki) and 3 Show Hope sponsorships in China (many of you are behind in your pledges.  Please bring them up to date).

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. – James 1:27

Please seriously pray through how God wants to use you to help reach kids without families.  It’s not whether He wants you to help (He does); rather, it’s how He wants you to help.  Please talk with your small group leaders to discuss the opportunities!

– Arthur

 

TD Fri. – TD @ The Wiltern for the SCC Solo Tour!

Image result for konzert von steven curtis chapman in los angeles, the wiltern, april 12

Hey TD!

This Friday, TD will be heading out to the renowned Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles for Steven Curtis Chapman’s SCC Solo Tour, as special guests of our friends at Show Hope.  Thank you Show Hope!!!  Playing in San Diego on Thursday, Los Angeles on Friday, and Sacramento on Saturday, this is the second year of the music legend’s successful nationwide tour and will be a great opportunity for us to hear the evolution of 30+ years of Grammy Award-winning Christian music!

Needless to say, there will be no TD at church.

Offerings 4 Tonight! (see Ash, Kat, Jen in Offerings 3)

Hey TD!

“Offerings” is always a blessing.  Don’t miss out on Offerings 4 tonight!  It’s going to be a great time!

To whet your appetite, here’s a collaboration by Ashley, Katherine, and Jennifer for Offerings 3 last August, called We Are Alive, with Katherine and Jennifer singing an original song and Ashley drawing  an amazing accompanying picture (click below!):

Ashley_082815

“We Are Alive” by Jennifer Li and Katherine Tao
Don’t fear now, He’s watching
Everything that’s said, He’s listening
And His seed has been sown in my soul
These roots are firm, unyielding
Bearing fruit to spread the healing power
Of the glory of our bounteous king
And now that we are saved our faith can
Grow strong in truth
With the promise of eternal life, joy
Flows ever through
By your love through Jesus Christ
The perfect sacrifice
You fill our hearts, we are alive
And now that I have found you
Your waters washed away my sin
And kept the branches of my tree alive
But even in the storms and trials of this life, these
Roots are strengthened in struggle and strife
This temporary pain will
Not bruise my spirit still
Your word will justify my life
And now that we are saved our faith can
Grow strong in truth
With the promise of eternal life, joy
Flows ever through
By your love through Jesus Christ
The perfect sacrifice
You fill our hearts, we are alive
Don’t fear now, He’s watching
Everything that’s said, He’s listening
And His seed has been sown in my soul
You’re Lord of all creation, the great I Am
You fill our hearts, we are alive (3x)

Let’s Stop the “Christianese”!

christianese

Hey TD!

As I was reading Joshua 13 last week, my heart was gripped, my eyes riveted to the sentence, and my soul stunned when I reached the last verse.  This chapter is in the middle of God leading Israel’s conquering of lands, which He wants to give to them as an inheritance.  Here, He instructs Joshua, “Be sure to allocate this land to Israel for an inheritance, as I have instructed you, and divide it as an inheritance among the nine tribes and half of the tribe of Manasseh.”

The passage then proceeds to list in detail all the areas that God had given the other half of the tribe of Manasseh – “This is what Moses had given to the tribe of Gad … The territory of Jazer, all the towns of Gilead and half the Ammonite country as far as Aroer, near Rabbah; and from Heshbon to Ramath Mizpah and Betonim, and from Mahanaim to the territory of Debir …. etc. (you get the point).  It keeps going on and on about which tribes got which lands.

And then the chapter ends with this, “But to the tribe of Levi, Moses had given no inheritance; the LORD, the God of Israel, is their inheritance, as he promised them.”  I’ve read this before, of course, but I didn’t see this coming this time.  I was stunned and  floored afresh.  They got no inheritance.  God was their inheritance.  Wow.

I’ve read this before, of course, but I didn’t see this coming this time.  I was stunned and  floored afresh.

As a worship leader at MBCLA since the ’80’s, I have poured through and sung decades’ worth of worship songs (formerly known as praise songs).  I have experienced their textual, musical, and stylistic evolution.  At any given time in a day, Sandra or I (sometimes Sandra AND I) will spontaneously break out some chorus of some song from the 5 decades of Christian worship music we’re familiar with.

One thing that I always wrestle with is this: Is this true?  In my life and in the lives of those I’m leading to sing these songs, is this true?  God warns us to let our yes be yes and our no be no, and that every word that proceeds from our mouths will be judged.  In dealing with the upstanding good church goers in His day, Jesus commented, “These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship Me in vain …” (Matt. 15) O, Lord, is this me?

So, when I sing certain lyrics, I begin to tighten up inside and cringe, struggling with whether I can actually and honestly sing these words:

“Rich or poor, God I want You more

Than anything that glitters in this world

Be my all, all consuming fire

You can have all my hands can hold

My heart, mind, strength and soul

Be my all, all consuming fire

 

We have all we need in You

And all we need is You

All we need is You”

 

Or,

“You are my strength when I am weak

You are the treasure that I seek

You are my All in all.”

 

Or,

“All of You is more than enough for

All of me, for every thirst and every need

You satisfy me with your love

And all I have in You is more than enough

 

More than all I want, more than all I need

You are more than enough for me”

 

If I’m going to sing these words, then I MUST honor them and live them out.  They MUST become reality in my heart, “for from the heart flow the issues of life.” (Prov. 4:23)  They MUST for you too.  May it NOT be said of us, “These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are (actually) far from me.”

Unfortunately, what all too often emerges, when we’ve gone to church for a long time without really letting God do the hard heart work in our lives, is that we end up developing a church culture of our own that we feel comfortable in – with church friends, doing “clean” things, etc.  We go to church together, go to fellowship and SS together, give the right answers, confess our struggles, share “honestly” and “vulnerably,” pray with one another, study Scripture together, and … sing worship songs together … songs that challenge, declare, and promise things to the Lord that most of us have never declared and promised in our regular speech; because we can’t.  We’d be lying.

It’s as if music changes our ethics and gives us permission to lie and make false promises

It’s as if music changes our ethics and gives us permission to lie and make false promises that we not only break immediately, but that we plan to break in a few hours.  And because our “good Christian friends” also do it, we rationalize that it’s ok, that we’re ok.  Or … we know it’s not ok, but we continue on anyway.  That’s what I call “churchianity.”  It’s playing church, speaking churchy language that I call “Christianese” – a language that has all the correct form, correct doctrine, and even correct biblical language … but is missing the creative, active, thoughtful, action-invoking life, timing, work,  integrity, and spirit of God.

Are You Ready to Take Action?

Are you fluent in speaking “Christianese”?  What do you think God hears from you when you sing

Christ is enough for me, Christ is enough for me

Everything I need is in You, Everything I need

 

I have decided to follow Jesus,

No turning back, no turning back”?

Is it a declaration that you will do everything in your power to bring your life in alignment with?  Or is it “Christianese”?  Will you surrender your dreams, desires, plans, and future to Him and give Him a chance to actually fulfill His dreams for you?  The reasons for which He made you?  Will you let your yes be yes?  Will you pledge to work with the Holy Spirit to do whatever it takes for Him to be your All in all? To begin the business of transferring full control over your life and future to Him?  And to take the necessary steps (as tough as they may be) to make that a reality?

Can you dare to dream with me?  What would your life look like if the Holy Spirit was in control of it?  How would it look different?  What if honoring Him was your actual desire and passion each moment of each day?  How would things change daily for you?

I encourage you to carve out some time to soberly and honestly weigh these questions out before God.  Everything depends on it.  Then take action and begin making the necessary adjustments in each area of your life to be consistent with the Truth.  I recommend asking a trusted mentor-type to come walk along side you in support and accountability.

“But to the tribe of Levi, Moses had given no inheritance; the LORD, the God of Israel, is their inheritance, as he promised them.”  Amen and amen. You are everything, Lord.

– Arthur

 

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

Offerings – The River of Life – Arthur

Hey TD!

Here’s an offering I gave to the Lord from Revelations 22, set to the music of “The Chronicles of Narnia,” during Offerings 2.  What offering will you give?  Take a risk and go for it!  You’re among family, you’ll be blessed, we’ll be blessed, and most importantly … God will be blessed! – Arthur