Not Understanding Older Brother Sins

x-hot-sins-cold-sinsIs the older brother a “bad” sinner? For over two decades, whenever I studied the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Lk 15:11-32), I fully understood and resonated with the (disgusting immoral) sins of the younger son: selfishness, greed, lust, licentiousness, promiscuity, spendthrift, disrespectful, inconsideration, fatalism, hedonism and the like. But with the older son, I might say or think, “Oh yeah, he’s a sinner too, but he doesn’t seem that bad. He’s kinda rude to his dad. He didn’t like his younger brother moving back home. At least he kept going to church (stayed at home with his father) and he didn’t sleep around with prostitutes (which is a big deal!).” I did not understand “older brother sins,” as I did “younger brother sins.” Last year I tried to address The Sins of Older Christians, i.e. ME! Continue reading →

2 Corinthians – Suggestions from Wright

2cABible study. Questions. These things surprisingly still invoke a mild fight-or-flight response in me. Can I trust the study guide? What ideology are these questions imposing on me? It has taken me more than three years to embark on an actual bible study with an official study guide. Yes I have been doing my own bible reading and did a personal study of the books of Job, Hebrews, Romans and Galatians these past three years. But these were just my own loose study. I was able to participate in a few bible study groups at our new local church, such as their “Be Armed!” study. Those were helpful and had study guides, but were disconnected from the direct text of the bible.

I have found that my own, no-pressure bible reading and the group topical bible studies are very enjoyable, challenging and helpful. Those approaches to bible study gave me time to process my own belief system, rather than dictate a belief system to me. But now I want more; I want to get closer to the bible text and enrich my personal faith fabric. So I’ve decided to learn from and trust N.T. Wright and his study guide on 2 Corinthians. So far this has been a good decision.

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How I Experienced God

preachingWLA friend asked me to preach a sermon on “Kingdom and Church.” This sounded rather broad and abstract. I wanted to decline because I have no idea what to say! But I remembered a quote: “If you’re asked to do something good, say ‘Yes’ first (which I did), and after that figure out how.” So, now I’m trying to figure out how to preach this sermon this Sunday! Do help me out.

The word translated “kingdom” (βασιλεία – basileia) is used 162 times in the NT, while “church” (ἐκκλησία- ekklēsia) is used 115 times. Both are significant themes in the Bible. Kingdom has the meaning of a territory under the rule of a king, while “church” means an assembly, a congregation, a gathering of people. Rather than expound theologically on Kingdom and Church (boring), I’ll share how I experienced the Kingdom (God) through the Church (people). Continue reading →

2 Corinthians Study – Introduction

2One of the freedoms I have been enjoying is the new-found freedom to work out my personal belief system as a bible learner. I started by believing only one thing: grace. My personal bible study continues with 2 Corinthians, the next book on my study journey. Perhaps you would share this study with me? Your input would be much appreciated. I think together we can reach much deeper and more accurate pictures of what God is communicating through the bible as we check each other’s blind spots, share our stories and explore the Holy Scriptures.

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The Six Stage UBF Training Model

ubf-training-model

[This is a direct quote form my second book about my journey of recovery from ubf, "Goodness Found: The Butterfly Narratives" and further describes the ubf training model.]

The most important aspect everyone needs to understand about UBF ministry is the six-stage training process. When I joined in 1987, no one had ever documented such a thing. But as I look back, I can clearly see all six stages. Everyone’s experience is different. Yet all UBF people should readily recognize these six stages. The following slide describes the UBF training model, and has been shared publicly by UBF from their 2010 Fishing and Outreach Director’s Conference. This is the most accurate depiction of my 24 years at UBF I’ve ever seen.

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My Reaction to the 2014 Staff Conference

sDid you attend the latest ubf staff conference? What is your reaction to this conference? How do you feel about it? Here is my reaction to the Sunday lecture by Daniel Lee.

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On Our 20th Anniversary

rMarking anniversaries. I can’t help it! ubf conditioned me to mark each year and to write my own history. Each conference was so historical! But my wife and I noticed one glaring absence from this history-making: our wedding anniversary. We realized that even though we privately marked our wedding anniversary, our ubf community almost never celebrated such a thing. Wedding anniversaries, like all supposedly unspiritual family-centered activities at ubf, were acknowledged but not celebrated. In the ubf KOPAHN system, the number of years you have been studying the bible at ubf is far more important than the number of years you have been married. For example, I noticed that Christians I meet now often ask “How long have you been married?” ubf people ask (in Konglish no matter your native language) “How long have you been studying bible at ubf?” when they first meet someone. So today I want to share some sogamic reflections with you as my wife and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary.

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Answers from Lumen Fidei

pI recently came across a document called the Lumen Fidei. It was more than insightful. The Lumen Fidei (light of faith) is a letter of Pope Francis that was circulated widely among top catholic bishops in 2013. Here are some questions this letter helped answer for me.

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Authority and Common Sense

rOne unspoken rule I have noticed in traditional UBF chapters is there is this idea that life decisions and choices must be approved by a pastor or shepherd before being undertaken. When directly asked this a shepherd will reply “You are free. Everything is permissible.” But then under his breath he adds “But not beneficial unless I say so.” I have not reacted well to this idea, because it seems insane to me. Recently I heard of a young man who broke his chapter leader’s directive and later when the young man protested this idea that things must be approved, he was told it was not a rule, but rather it was “common sense”.

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Sometimes we need Hero and Villain

mSometimes theologians and church people forget how culture expresses the “spirit of the times” and that such expressions can have something profound to teach the church. Often that great enemy, the secular world, is seen as entirely bad and merely a means to our mission. We forget there are human beings in that world, remarkable human beings who also have discovered amazing truths. So it is with the latest Disney movie Maleficent.

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