Paul says emphatically, “I am not ashamed of the gospel.” This is the explicit reason why he had Gospel Enthusiasm and excitement and energy and eagerness to preach the gospel to the Romans (Rom 1:15).
I wondered to myself, “What am I NOT ashamed of?”
Two things immediately come to mind: my wife and my cats! I simply love to talk about them at every opportunity. I can hardly get through any sermon, or Bible study, or a casual conversation, or even a UBFriends post or comment, without talking about either my wife or my cats or both! Continue reading →
One of the problems that comes with teaching is knowing what was previously taught to your students. If you assume they know too much then you will expect too much, if you assume they know too little you will waste your time reteaching things. It is important as a teacher to determine the level of the student upon becoming his teacher.
In the 10th chapter of John, Jesus explains he is the good shepherd. He uses a metaphor calling his elect sheep, and calling himself their shepherd. He says metaphorically that although the world and Satan will attempt to steal them away, they will not follow. He says “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” In the next passage Jesus foresees his death, resurrection, and the gospel’s revelation to the Gentiles- “I have other sheep that are not of this pen. I must bring them also… I lay down my life- only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.”
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How do you help a group of people whose lives are intertwined with a failing organization? How do you get through to owners who are in denial about the state of their organization? Robert Irvine’s TV show does just that, over and over again. Recently, in May 2014, the show “Restaurant Impossible” aired its 100th episode. I’ve watched all of the shows up to Season 7, so I still have some catching up to do. To put it mildly, I have been enthralled by this show and by the TV personality, Robert Irvine. The premise of the show is that restaurant owners contact the Food Network and apply to get help from Robert for their restaurant in danger of closing. Robert goes into the restaurant and has a total of 36 hours and $10,000 dollars to save the restaurant. I was stunned by the process and how Irvine goes about this restaurant-saving work. Could there be implications here for the church? I think so.
Forgiveness. I extemporaneously shared my story of God’s grace in my sermon last Sun: Gospel of Grace. I have previously shared parts of this before. I first understood the gospel in 1980 through my magical mysterious mystical conversion. At age 25 I realized for the first time with great awe and wonder and with many tears of gratitude that God forgave all my sins completely through Christ, despite myself. I experienced a peace and a wholesomeness (shalom) that I had never ever previously known (Phil 4:7). My life has never been the same for the last 34 years since that great, gracious and glorious day of my conversion. Continue reading →
This week I sent the following letter to the UBF Ethics & Accountability Committee. I received an acknowledgement from one committee member that they have received my letter. I am posting this publicly so that we can check back in a month or so after the committee meets and discuss any follow-up. Here is their email if anyone is looking for it: ubfethicscommittee @ gmail . com
During a Q&A session after a church service where 2 Tim 3:6-17 was preached, someone asked “How do we become free from the burden of sin and how do we live in that freedom?” The preacher answered “Trust in Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and preach the realities of the gospel to yourself every day.”
“Just obey” may cause PTSD reactions. Obedience might be a favorite word and teaching in UBF (and many other churches). I recently realized that it is also a word that causes PTSD reactions from some people who have negative UBF experiences. This is partly because of the unbiblical and authoritarian ways that obedience is taught, communicated and practiced in certain UBF chapters. This is not uncommonly expressed by the imperative statement, “Just obey!” Obedience is also communicated implicitly even without saying, “Just obey.” The implication is that you should obey God as the Bible commands and teaches. But the practical reality is that you should obey what your leader or shepherd tells you…or else… Continue reading →
The theology of “Gross!”: What modern psychology can teach us about purity, disgust, love, and the gospel
Back in January, I posted a sermon I delivered on Ephesians chapter 2. I wrote:
In these verses, Paul makes the surprising claim that the law – God’s law, which was given to Israel through Moses on Mount Sinai – created hostility between Jews and Gentiles and erected a wall, an insurmountable barrier, which had kept them apart. This is true. Because of their law, Jews were compelled to separate themselves from non-Jews. They had to avoid all physical contact. Jews could never have fellowship or eat with Gentiles, because Gentiles’ food and utensils and homes and bodies were defiled. For Jews, the mere thought of eating with Gentiles would have made them feel physically ill.
Neuropsychology has shown that most of the judgments that people make in regard to morality – deciding what behaviors are right or wrong – are not based on careful, rational thought. Rather, these decisions come from the gustatory cortex, the part of the brain that helps us to detect bad smells and warns us not to eat certain foods because they are unwholesome or contaminated. I learned about these findings through a fascinating book titled The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt.
“It feels like we are just floating in space.” That’s how one of my friends who left UBF ministry with me described how she felt after leaving. I can relate to this statement very well. At UBF we were tethered to the “mother ship”. But now we had to navigate our own path. We started making life decisions on our own, with no checking against our UBF shepherds for “God’s will”. Some of us made these decisions like this for the first time, even though we are all adults. How do you find peace and contentment when your faith community just collapsed in epic fashion? Where do you go when you cannot find a local church where you feel comfortable attending? How do you begin trusting people again after being betrayed by church leadership? What do we do now? Here is what I’ve been doing: writing books. The 300 pages of three books tell the story of my life. My life has indeed become an open book.