TD Friday – “Everywhere & Nowhere SG Study

Hey TD!

In this post you will have nearly everything you need to prepare for our small groups this Friday – the mp3 and small group study of “Everywhere and Nowhere,” as well as a meaningful Slice of Infinity by Margaret Manning Shull entitled, “An Answered Prayer.”  It’s like a TD small group kit!

“Everywhere and Nowhere” (message) – Sandra

“Everywhere and Nowhere” (small group study)

Please prepare as well as you can for our first small group study of 2016!  The better everyone prepares, the better our small groups will be!  Prep well, TD!

An Answered Prayer 

Just type the word “prayer” into an internet search engine as I did the other day and you’ll find almost a hundred million different articles, sites, books, and periodicals on the topic. Discussions about prayer are as ubiquitous as the praying football player in the end zone after a touchdown. Every major world religion has some form of prayer, and in some of the earliest words to the church Christians are exhorted to pray “without ceasing.”

And yet if we’re honest, prayer can be a frequent source of confusion and deep mystery. Confusion comes not only with questions concerning what to pray and how to pray, but also in questioning whether or not prayers make a difference or are being heard at all. Phillip Yancey’s book, which asks one such question in the title, attempts to address many of these questions about prayer. Why does God seem silent so much of the time to our prayers? Why does God seem to answer prayers affirmatively for some and not for others? And when all we seem to receive in response to our prayers is “no,” how are we to understand both prayer’s efficacy and the God who loves us?(1)

If these questions aren’t difficult enough, Jesus’s own bold statements about prayer make us all the more confused. The Gospel of Matthew seems to record some matter-of-fact statements about prayer. After all, Jesus proclaimed, “I say to you, ask, and it shall be given to you; seek and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and the one who knocks, it shall be opened.” Likewise, Jesus promises that like our earthly fathers, God longs to give us what is good in response to the asking, seeking, and knocking of prayer.(2)

Yet Luke’s Gospel narrative makes explicit what Matthew’s Gospel keeps implicit about the gifts given in response to prayer. Jesus tells his disciples, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?(3) According to Jesus, the goal of all prayer is the Holy Spirit at work in our lives and in the world. The Holy Spirit is the ultimate “good gift” that God gives in response to our asking, seeking, and knocking.

So, then, Jesus describes prayer in terms of connection and affiliation, a linking of our lives by the Son with the Father who gives the gift of the Spirit. The more this connection grows and develops, the more one desires it. Hence, God promises to give us more of the Holy Spirit-in and through all the circumstances of life-as the deep answer and the good gift in response to prayer.

Further, Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit as the comforter, and the one who comes alongside us.(4) This is the same Spirit the apostle Paul suggests “intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words,” and “intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”(5) Therefore, when difficulties come, when our prayers seemingly go unanswered, there is the unfailing assurance that we are not alone. The Father longs to come near to us as tangibly as the human Son of God has come into the world and as assuredly as the comforting presence of God’s Spirit who comes alongside us.

Craig Barnes, former pastor of the National Presbyterian Church, adds:

“Sometimes life gets overwhelming, and we realize we could use a little help. So we pray for our health to get better, for our marriage to work out, for success in our work that has taken a turn for the worse. There is nothing wrong in praying for these things, but they are not what our salvation is about. Don’t expect Jesus to save us by teaching us to depend on the things we are afraid of losing! He loves us too much to let our health, marriage, or work become the savior of our lives. He will abandon every crusade that searches for salvation from anything or anyone other than God. So he delays, he watches as we race down dead-end streets, he lets our mission du jour crash and burn. To receive Jesus as Savior means recognizing him as our only help. Not our only help for getting what we want. But our only true help.”(6)

God’s promise to be present with us through the power of the Holy Spirit suggests that God’s presence with us is the deepest answer to prayer. It is God’s “yes” even if God answers our specific requests with “no.” Ultimately, God desires to bring comfort, not from dependence on the things of this world, but in God’s presence with us and alongside us through the Spirit.

Through the power and presence of the Spirit, God longs to be the very answer to our prayers. Ask, and the Holy Spirit will be given to you. Seek, and you will find the Holy Spirit with you. Knock, and the door of God’s kingdom will be opened to you. For how much more will our heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit, to those who ask?

Margaret Manning Shull is a member of the speaking and writing team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Bellingham, Washington.

(1) Philip Yancey, Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006).

(2) Matthew 7:7-11.
(3) Luke 11:11-13.
(4) John 14:16, 26).
(5) Romans 8:26b-27.
(6) M. Craig Barnes, When God Interrupts (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 124-125.

“Knowing and Being Known, Pts. 1/2” mp3’s

Hey TD!

Here are the mp3’s for “Known and Being Known, Pt. 1” and “Known and Being Known, Pt. 2”.  The better you know and understand these ideas and thoughts of God, the better you’ll know and appreciate God.

“Knowing and Being Known, Pt. 1” (message) – Arthur

“Knowing and Being Known, Pt. 2”  (message) – Arthur

Don’t forget that to come to TD tonight! Sandra has an incredible lesson on God’s omnipresence to share with us!

Also, we have our Pre-TD Party at 7:15!  See you soon!

Prep for Opening TD of 2016!




Hey TD!

How is 2016 looking for you? Are you excited? Anxious? Picking yourself up off the ground? Unsure?

Let’s get 2016 kicked off right by meeting with the Author of 2016 Himself, and letting Him write our 2016!  Leading us to the Author will be Arthur (people often spell his name “Author”!).  The last time he taught, the Spirit moved powerfully that He caused a power outage by tripping the circuit breakers with too much power 🙂

Arthur will be teaching part 2 of ‘Knowing and Being Known.”  Come as we prepare to set your 2016 off on a higher trajectory!

Please prepare for this Friday’s meeting! It WILL make a difference in how much you get out of it!  Here’s how:

1.  Re-listen to and review “Knowing and Being Known, Pt. 1” (message – Arthur).  Just click to listen and review.

This will be very important to do to solidify the base for part 2 this Friday.

2.  Finish memorizing Psalm 139:1-6 by this Friday.  Savor it, meditate on it, relish in it! Your inputs directly affect your outputs.

 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.

See you on Friday as we kick off 2016!


Psalm 139

Hey TD,

Before our TD meeting tomorrow, would you mind reading through Psalm 139 a couple of times through?  Please do so undistractedly, meditatively, thoughtfully, admiringly, enthusiastically, meaningfully, thankfully, prayerfully …

TD will be memorizing this psalm this year.  Tomorrow, we will be studying verses 1-6, so get yourself familiar with it.

Psalm 139 (NASB)

For the choir director. A Psalm of David.

1O LORD, You have searched me and known me.

2You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.

3You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.

4Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O LORD, You know it all.

5You have enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.

6Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high, I cannot attain to it.

7Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?

8If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.

9If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,

10Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.

11If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,”

12Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You.

13For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.

14I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.

15My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;

16Your 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.

17How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!

18If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.
When I awake, I am still with You.

19O that You would slay the wicked, O God;
Depart from me, therefore, men of bloodshed.

20For they speak against You wickedly,
And Your enemies take Your name in vain.

21Do I not hate those who hate You, O LORD?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?

22I hate them with the utmost hatred;
They have become my enemies.

23Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;

24And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.

TD This Friday – “Our All-Knowing God”


Hey TD!

It has been said, “To know me is to love me.”  Well, God knows us alright.  Boy, does He know us; far more than we’ve ever even thought of.  And not only does He know us, He knows everything there is to know about … well, everything!  He is an amazing, amazing, amazing God!

This Friday, we begin our journey through the beloved Psalm 139, as we embark on our year’s theme, “Reboot: Seeing God as God Again.”  It will also mark Rebecca’s speaking debut at TD!  I met with her this weekend, and she is chock full of insights, implications, and enthusiasm for the Lord.  I am excited to hear from her.  I know you will be blessed.

So, come on out and get ready to begin seeing God as God again!


TD Friday – “A Whole New World” – mp3 and study

“A Whole New World” (mp3) – Arthur

“A Whole New World” (sg study)

Hey TD!

As we embark on our year’s theme, “Reboot: Seeing God as God Again (Ps. 139),” and behold the beauty of God in Psalm 139, it’s vital for us to rightly assess our culture and THE culture, our world and THE world we live in; to clear the brush, as it were.  How and where is culture influencing us, and how and where are we influencing culture?  And in what ways is this mutual influence happening?  Are there small and/or large adjustments to be made?

We don’t want to just add God’s beautiful and transforming Word on top of our cluttered, distracted lives, leaving us thinking that we’ve done something holy and spiritual by including God in our lives.  God’s Word was NEVER meant for that.  Listen to 2 Timothy 3:16-17:

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

Through the work of the Holy Spirit, God’s Word is meant to TRANSFORM our lives from the inside out!  It isn’t meant just to garnish or accent our lives, giving us a little “spirituality” or spiritual flavor.  The truth is, you are either walking forward or backwards.  There is no neutral ground with Jesus:

“Anyone who isn’t with me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me” Matt. 12:30 (NLT)

Prepping for TD small groups on Friday

  • Review Arthur’s message above, “A Whole New World” (mp3) (it’s 1:43 mins, so you may want to split it up)
  • Review and consider the pre-small group study thoughts (above)

The better your review, the better our small groups!

See you Friday!