My good friend Ben recently posted an article where he shared his concerns about the upcoming ubf summer bible conference (ISBC). Ben has become a friend who fits the “best friend” category. I am so grateful for his voice of reason and sound theology in the midst of the ubf crisis. Today I am compelled to explain my biggest concern for the conference: the lectures. All of Ben’s concerns are valid and deserve a response from ubf. But in my mind the root cause of those concerns is twisted theology. ubf theology has glaring holes in it. This ISBC highlights one of those holes like never before.
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From time to time, as the technical admin here, I review our website statistics from Google Analytics. We may wonder who is reading this stuff. According to the stats, Malaysia, Ukraine and South Korea spend the most time here. Here are some more 2013 stats. Enjoy.
Why is Brian Karcher so bitter? How could Ben and Joe forget God’s grace and start bashing UBF so shamelessly on a public website? Why can’t Chris and Vitaly stop posting inflammatory comments that build up no one and only tear down? And why are so many allowing Satan to gain a foothold in their hearts instead of doing something positive to bless the upcoming International Summer Bible Conference?
Language is a powerful thing. It shapes the way communities think and act. Questions like these, which are being whispered in the corners at UBF chapters all over the world, are not value-free. They are so fraught with hidden assumptions and judgments that merely asking them, one is (knowingly or not) defending the status quo and deflecting attention from very serious problems that affect everyone in the UBF community.
(My original title was “Why I Won’t Attend the International Conference.” But I was persuaded to change it to a “less hostile” title.) Let me state that my prayer is for God’s abundant and overflowing blessing upon our conference and that Christ is truly honored and exalted through the conference. Everything henceforth should be understood with this prayer in mind.
UBF’s glory. This is my predominant major concern: There is an undertow and impression that the unspoken purpose of UBF conferences is to show the greatness of UBF, of UBF missionaries and of senior UBF leaders, rather than to display and declare the greatness and glory of Christ. This is subtle, subjective and subjunctive. This can be denied because no one ever says, “Our UBF conference is to show how great UBF is, or how great Korean missionaries are.” But my contention is that UBF palpably glorifies UBF, UBF missionaries, and senior UBF leaders rather than God Himself. This is a very very very serious charge. So, if this is incorrect, then please correct me.
Recently I shared the conclusion of the study group my wife and I attended for about nine months. Today I am sharing about the beginning of the Emerging Journey study. The first lesson, and the foundation of the study, is rooted Jesus’ words “not so with you”. The “not so with you” theme was woven throughout the lessons and permeated our group discussions and writings. The big theme for me was that Christ-followers are distinctive. Yes Christianity has much in common with philosophies and religions, but there are some unmistakable marks of Christians. One of those is “not so with you”.
This is part two of Keller’s book “The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness” report. Freedom is so precious like diamond. It cannot be easily obtained. It requires leap of faith. It defies human logic, common sense and fixed ideas.According to Keller, there are several signs when we do not have true freedom of Self-Forgetfulness.
How many organizational leaders have gotten themselves and their followers into severe trouble because they failed to see their own limitations? Because they held on to their positions of authority for so long that they lost the ability to self-reflect? Because they failed to allow the next generation to take over in a timely manner? Because they imagined that they were the rightful owners of the organization and that it couldn’t survive without them?
Then, purely by chance, I happened to watch a video of a lecture by my friend John Armstrong. It was the fifth in a series of seven lectures on Spiritual Leadership that John presented to UBF leaders in the Chicago area.
It must come to an end. If it doesn’t end, it won’t be healthy for any of us. That was the advice one of our pastors gave to a member of our cohort group as we concluded our nine-month “Emerging Journey” class. One of my new friends in this class was sad that the fellowship had to end. Nine months have flown by so quickly! As we finished our class last night, none of us wanted it to end. All night our pastor’s words bounced around in my head. He reminded us that it is unhealthy for a spiritual discipline or church program to go on and on without conclusion.
At every major UBF conference one prayer topic is invariably to encourage tired, burdened, burnt out and discouraged missionaries. “This conference is for you–tired missionary. Come to the conference to be refreshed and renewed!” Fair enough. But perhaps a more fundamental question is why are UBF missionaries tired?
It is said, “Our UBF missionaries worked so hard for mission, and they suffered and sacrificed so much to serve God and feed selfish sheep.” PTL! But Mother Barry has said countless times with great beaming joy, “I have sacrificed nothing for Jesus.” I believe her. So are our UBF missionaries tired and burnt out because they suffered and sacrificed more than Mother Barry?
As Joe is telling it to the church (I am lovin’ it with high fives!), I wish to tell the truth as a parallel post. UBF leaders like to say among themselves that UBFriends is declining with only the same few tired commenters. Translation: “Don’t worry about UBFriends. We are still in control.” Nonetheless in just the last few days, as Joe tells it to the church, there were over 140 comments in 3 days! and with new fresh commenters who had not commented before. For the record, UBFriends has no political agenda. As Joe said, which I echo, “Neither of us (Joe and Ben) has tried to gather supporters behind us to start a countermovement to make demands from ubf leaders. Basically, all we have done is to write articles on this website to express our opinions.” Amen. Continue reading →