Ok so my “indefinite time away” turned out to be not so long. It’s been 10 days since I commented here, and 2 weeks since I posted an article. New world records! It has been a crazy time off, having to deal with the emtional angst of finding out yet another abuse story that has not been dealt with properly by the ubf echelon. But onto today’s topic: affirming gospel messages in culture.
There was a Missions Conference at Moody Bible Institute October 14-17, 2014. I wish all of you could have attended. It was completely free. I decided to make a synopsis so that you could know what happened even though you didn’t attend.
Day I: Tuesday evening session
Speaker: Pastor Oscar
Anecdote: George Mueller
Challenge: 10 hairy audacious prayer topics
This sermon was based on George Mueller. His goal was to live in a way that showed people God can be trusted. He built orphanages throughout England, but never asked for a penny. In the morning he would wake up and tell the orphans that there was no food for breakfast, but they should pray and thank God. Then someone would usually come and bring breakfast because God put it on their heart to serve. He never took a salary. When he was 70, he decided to go out as a missionary and for more than a decade he went out traveling the world and preaching. The Pastor challenge us to pray prayer topics that “make God sweat.” Usually we pray things like: give me an “A” on my exam or in the mall, “Lord give me a parking spot.” But the Pastor dared us to pray 10 hairy audacious prayer topics that God will answer. A few I thought of was WL having its own building and not one more death from gang violence in Chicago. Or praying for my cousin, D, who is a hostile atheist to serve the Lord or C to have a job in finance paying more than 45K a year. These are crazy scary prayer topics and I realized I don’t pray them because I am scared that God will not deliver. But he is God and he can be trusted. Continue reading →
Last Sunday, I preached on Gospel Righteousness. My text, Rom 3:21-26, is regarded as “the center and heart of Romans,” “possibly the most important single paragraph ever written,” and “the chief point, and the very central place of the Epistle, and of the whole Bible.” Among the many very important themes of the Bible densely packed in these six verses is the atonement (Rom 3:25), which has been explained (and passionately argued about) in many different ways over the last two centuries of the church. In my attempt to not confuse my congregation of about five dozen people, I decided not to explain the different views of the atonement, but to share two very personal stories about my two pets, a dog and a cat, in my introduction and conclusion of my sermon. Continue reading →
Gentle and kind. This follows my earlier comment to state again my simple (and perhaps naive) contention that the greatest likelihood of effecting positive change in the church is not by relentlessly blasting away and pummeling others (even if they deserve it), but ultimately through gentleness and kindness as exemplified by Christ (even if they don’t deserve it).
Boring and predictable. Many have stated that UBF tends to be boring and predictable in the way the Bible is taught and presented over the decades. I hope that UBFriends does not similarly become boring and predictable by unrelentingly blasting away against UBF. Continue reading →
Now that I’ve processed a large portion of my recovery from ubf, I am free to rebuild and rework my theology. Two years ago, in October 2012, I was inspired by the bible story of Esther to come out as a Christian gay rights pacifist. Since then I’ve been consumed by addressing the elephant in the room in all Christian circles: gay people. I began a meticulous search through Scripture to find out what made Christians so anti-gay or at best merely tolerant of the LGBTQA people. That study has now lead me to write my fourth book, a book that has no mention of ubf or my recovery; a book with the working subtitle: “Why Christianity Needs Gay People”.
Recently I was studying Galatians 1 with a friend. When I read the verse “if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be eternally condemned!” I openly wondered “Have I ever heard a gospel preached other than the biblical gospel.” I thought this to be certainly true. But moreover I though “Have I ever heard of a very holy, authoritative person- perhaps a saint, preach something that I felt was not in accordance with scripture?”
“What’s the game?” a student asked excitedly.
“Well it’s simple” Travis went on “You are going to flip a coin. If you get a heads you get a candy bar.” Travis revealed a selection of candy bars like Vanna White showing a prize. The boy with glasses eyes the Snickers ready to fend off a resolution rarely see outside of fights to the death and Black Friday shoppers (although to be fair that might be redundant).“Ok I will play.” The boy said as he reached to his pocket for a quarter.
Did I miscommunicate biblical faith? I used to make such statements 100s of times to countless Bible students for over a quarter of a century….especially to those who are single and in (restrained desire and) need of a spouse! I am so sorry for all those I did this too… I realize that inherent in such seemingly “innocent” and “cute” statements is that it could be provocative and possibly misleading and miscommunicating biblical faith. Continue reading →