A bit of disclosure is in order here: Since September of last year, I haven’t been attending church on a weekly basis. I’ve attended Catholic Mass a few times and have taken communion and have also had ongoing conversations about the Bible and life with others and have done my own personal study on biblical topics, but nothing like being plugged into a faith community on a regular basis. To some this may be disconcerting or off-putting, like who takes a half a year off of church and then preaches a sermon? But I thank Rhoel for reaching out to me and befriending and simply talking to me on a human-to-human level. One thing that I really appreciate about the West Loop community is you all’s desire to understand and practice the gospel in a loving manner. So I thank you all for accepting me and giving me the privilege to speak here today. I don’t take this lightly and I don’t want to waste your time, but instead I want to hopefully communicate an important point about the gospel that I think we, including myself, often miss. I’ll attempt to make my point in thirty minutes or less and end with a nice cherry on top which is an example from my own life.
Did you know Cs Lewis once gave a commencement address? Cs Lewis is largely regarded as the most influential Christian in the last century. If you could give a commencement address what would it be? For those apart of churches, especially evangelical ones, I think the gospel message would be a priority. For those outside the church, tolerance and personal achievement would be at the forefront. And that is what is so startling about this address. For someone who is such a Christian giant his address doesn’t touch on any topics that would even begin to come to mind in a pastor or evangelist. Continue reading →
As one who has been participating in University Bible Fellowship for many years, I’d like to offer my thoughts on some of the points in Joe’s recent open letter to the President of UBF. Continue reading →
In April 2012 I was baptized by full immersion at our local Christian church. It was a wonderful and godly experience. The pastor’s words “You are free from the teachings of one man” still give me much peace and joy. Since then however, I have not returned to church, except for a couple special events. For me, baptism was an end, not a beginning. Baptism was the death of all the undue religious influence on my life. Today I would like to share with our readers a glimpse into my journey back to the church.
Recently someone shared a quote with me
“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them they should have behaved better.” It is in the same vein as Chesterton’s quote on publication. Chesterton was a journalist first, so this quote carries a lot of authority with it
“In matters of truth the fact that you don’t want to publish something is, nine times out of ten, a proof that you ought to publish it.”
Continue reading →
Love and marriage. A friend from Malaysia made a comment to me yesterday. He said, “In the west people marry who they love. But in the east people love who they marry.” With his latter statement he meant arranged marriages. Last week, my relative from Singapore said to me, “You should not marry the one you love, but marry the one who loves you.” He said this because his dear sister is being very badly hurt by a man she loves after she rejected a prior suitor who dearly loved her. Aren’t such statements interesting? Continue reading →
Scapegoating, Ignatian spiritual practice, and the subversive gospels of Passion Sunday and Good Friday
The recent film Kill the Messenger is based on the true story of a reporter named Gary Webb who worked for a mid-sized newspaper during the 1990’s. By chance, Webb received a document revealing that the federal government supported a trafficker who brought large amounts of drugs into the United States. As Webb investigated the matter, he found evidence that the spread of crack cocaine, an epidemic that blighted American cities during the 1980s, was fueled by operatives of the CIA who sold the drug to support the military operations of the Contra rebels in Nicaragua.
“What did Jesus really mean when He said, ‘Follow Me?’” This is the title of a small pamphlet by David Platt that a friend showed me. I eagerly read it, since “follow me” is repeated at least 17 times by Jesus in the four gospels in the NIV, and implied countless more times. You might not realize it but “Follow me” is the most frequent command Jesus gave. (Incidentally, Jesus did not say even once, “worship me.”)
This pamphlet has three parts:
Part I. The great invitation (Mt 4:19; Mk 1:17).
Part II. The great cost (Lk 9:23).
Part III. The great change (Mt 28:19).
Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. –John 3:20,21
The darkness of UBF is overwhelming. Secrets hide behind nearly every smiling face that offers you so much as a plate of bulgoki. Growing up, every Sunday I went to CBF at the “center.” Even as I child, I always felt like there was something off about UBF people. I never quite felt like I was at home, or that this was my family.
Upon leaving UBF at age 8 with my family, we went to an unnamed evangelical church in the area. It was there that I entered life and finally learned to be a normal human being. For the first time in my young life, I felt like I could fit in with the other boys, the other children, and I learned about God, who Jesus was, and accepted him into my heart as my Lord and savior.
Editorial note: While searching for an old email, I happened to find the first sermon preached at West Loop UBF on Jan 6, 2008. It is over 6 years ago. I feel strange and nostalgic reading it. It reminded me of A Real Testimony by Ben Toh from 1998. UBFers will likely welcome what I wrote and may wonder why I am no longer like that, while exUBFers might suffer from varying degrees of PTSD. The full sermon can be read here. What I copied and pasted below is my personal application, which I preached verbatim. Continue reading →