Going Silent for Lent

solitudeTomorrow is Ash Wednesday, which for Roman Catholic and Protestant churches marks the beginning of the season of Lent. (The Eastern Orthodox observance of Lent began on Sunday.) Lent is traditionally marked by fasting, prayer, and other spiritual disciplines of self denial for the purpose of drawing near to God. Many evangelicals who have not traditionally observed Lent have, in recent years, been rediscovering the ancient practices of this season and incorporating them into their lives.

If you are interested in learning more about the history of Lent, and how and why it can be beneficial, take a look at this series of short articles by Mark Roberts.

As part of my observance of Lent this year, I have decided to go silent with respect to UBFriends. From tomorrow until Easter Sunday, I will refrain from reading or posting anything on this website.

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Sin Is Having An Identity Other Than In God

mask-on-blackThe sin beneath the sin. A Christian lies and says, “I did not slander you or gossip about you behind your back.” We conclude that the person sinned by lying. But lying is just the surface sin. There is a deeper sin beneath the sin of lying. It may be to desire an identity as a noble and honest Christian, rather than to have an identity in Christ alone.

My identity was as a UBF man for 27 years (1980-2007). I am a Christian. I tasted the love of God through the marvelous grace of Jesus. But my identity was in my faithfulness to never miss a UBF Sun worship service, never miss any meetings, never miss writing a testimony every week, never missing any UBF conferences, having 10 1:1 Bible studies a week, etc. Continue reading →

Why I Am Not a Christian

d1As the Lent season approaches this week, one question has surfaced in my mind: What does it mean to be a Christian? This is one of the thoughts I plan on considering more deeply during this year’s Lent. I will be removing the distraction of blogging during this time, so you will not see me posting here on ubfriends.
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Book Review: The Year the World Ended

theyeartheworldendedI have never been too fond of book reviews; they tend to be written by people you have never met, and they frequently come accompanied with the author’s agenda that they fail to reveal up front. With this in mind I want to introduce myself and the reason I bought this book.

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Change is coming

cChange. Some people fear it. Some embrace it. Change happens, whether we like it or not. Sometimes things around us change the way we want. Other times we have no control over what or how we change. Often we want to change ourselves. Other times we want to change other people around us. Today Ben sent us a “blast form the past” that highlights how various people have changed (or not changed) the past seven years.

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CaptivatedjLook! Captivated: Beholding the Mystery of Jesus’ Death and Resurrection by Thabiti Anyabwile was a series of Easter sermons. Like the Bible that implores us to take a long look at Christ (Isa 40:9; Ps 34:8; Jn 1:29; Mt 11:29), Anyabwile’s book (95 pages) compels us to stare into the meaning/mystery of the cross and resurrection. The five chapters are five incisive questions that help us behold Christ:

  1. Is There No Other Way?
  2. Why Have You Forsaken Me?
  3. Where, O Death, Is Your Victory?
  4. Why Do You Seek the Living among the Dead?
  5. Do You Not Know These Things? Continue reading →

Shepherd Brian is Dead

rNow that I’ve got your attention… I’d like to share the last puzzle piece of my recovery from my twenty-four years in University Bible Fellowship. This is the holy grail of my recovery, the last piece that makes the entire picture clear, the piece of the puzzle that explains so many unanswered questions.

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Book Review: Freedom of Mind

dThis week I finished reading Steve Hassan’s latest book, published in 2012, entitled “Freedom of Mind: Helping Loved Ones Leave Controlling People, Cults, and Beliefs“. I found this book to be highly relevant and surprisingly comforting. Steve presents so many ideas and thoughts that describe what I’ve been going through before, during and after my commitment to University Bible Fellowship. I find solace in the fact that a cult expert who joined and exited a Korean-based religious group confirms that my recovery is real and on track. Steve writes in the opening pages: ”In the Moonies, where Koreans are considered the master race, we sang Korean folk songs, ate kimchi [Korean pickled cabbage], and bowed or removed our shoes before entering a group center.” (pg. 28) “In the Jehovah’s Witnesses, I know a woman who was excommunicated because she sent a birthday card to a nonmember.” (pg 29) ”In a legitimate church, if your mother is sick or injured, you go to the minister or pastor and say, “My mother is ill. I’m going to visit her in the hospital. Please say a prayer for her.” In a Bible cult, you are expected to humbly approach the leader or sub-leader and ask, “May I have permission to visit my mother?” (In the Moonies, when leaders didn’t want members to get emotionally involved with their families, we were told to “leave the dead to bury the dead.” All outsiders were considered spiritually dead. (pg.30)

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Law and Grace, Moses and Paul

law&graceIs there a conflict between law and grace? Does Paul contradict Moses?

Grace alone. Alternate perspectives and counter comments have previously been bantered about, but I thought it good to articulate in one article the (Reformed) perspective that best expresses my understanding and my faith. The key is that only the grace of God (never man’s merit) leads to redemption and blessing, both in the OT and NT.

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Critique My 6th Deuteronomy Sermon: One

Dt6.4-5Thanks so much Joe, Brian, Sharon, David, Chris, others for your liminal inducing comments on my sermons on Deuteronomy: Sin (chap. 1), Leadership (Dt 1:9-18), Faith (chap. 2-3), Obedience (chap. 4) and Law (chap. 5). This sixth sermon is on the Shema (meaning “Hear”). It is from the most famous chap. in Deuteronomy since Jesus chose the great command from Dt 6:5. My theme and thesis is that true spirituality is loving God, which arises from the heart and extends to all of life. I will likely begin my sermon as follows:

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