Yoked for life?

yokedA personal, life-long shepherd. Do you want one? In 1987 I happened by chance to meet ubf shepherds on my campus during my third week of college. I was 18 years old. That chance meeting was seen by these shepherds as God’s divine intervention into my life and God’s sign that I needed to be yoked permanently to a ubf shepherd. This was based on bible verses such as Matthew 11:29 and Philippians 4:3. I had no idea I was entering into a permanent relationship, a relationship that would soon supersede all other relationships.

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My Journey of Recovery

wEver feel like you are carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders? Ever feel crushed and suffocated by the weight of your burdens? As a member of ubf, I felt crushed every single day for 24 years. No matter what I did, the burden was still there. The burden would not go away. Even when I left the intense daily scrutiny of a personal shepherd in order to pioneer a new ubf chapter, I could not escape the ever-present burden. I felt like the weight of the world was on my back. Yet I toiled onward, thinking I was a holy soldier for Jesus. I thought I was being a blessing to the world and pleasing to God. As I continue my journey of recovery from decades of ubf lifestyle, I am compelled to share some realizations I’ve come across so far.

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A Wonderful UBF Conference, But…

ISBC2013montreal indonesian danceOverall it was a wonderful conference. I went there eager to hear systematic and textual messages. I came to hear upfront calls to be missionaries. Jesus’ world mission command was clearly highlighted. To me this is refreshing. I liked the personal interest groups. They were a chance to talk with other people who are interested in the same thing. I am always happy that “non professional” Christians are encouraged and allowed to be speakers at the conferences. This rarely happens elsewhere much…but needs to happen. I appreciate the life testimonies. They were very clear. God has been at work in these peoples’ lives and it was expressed in a very poignant way. The conference had it all: messages from lay ministers, life testimonies, interest groups, an intriguing special speaker, an altar call, a recommitment call, a missionary pledge time. There was free time on a beautiful campus. All of the venues were close together. There was time to spend with our children. We were even roommates with our kids. There were soccer and basketball tournaments. There were cozy group Bible studies in the dorms. The music was fantastic. The MC, Greg Lewis was wonderful and cheerful. The drama was fresh. The food was abundant. I loved the barbeque. The weather was perfect. The road trip was long, but it was a road trip none the less. Those are always good. I liked the Pennsylvania mountains and even the nearby nuclear reactor. This conference is very unique in Christian conferences.  The group Bible studies could have been a little long, if people let them. If we studied as deeply as we were directed then it could have went on to past midnight each night. I like the freedom of the leaders to choose the length of time. Continue reading →

My Offer

oAfter attending the Global Leadership Summit last week, I was inspired to offer something to ubf directors. Perhaps we could forge a new relationship because of the gospel. Perhaps we could open new doors of communication. Perhaps we could forgive each other and find the unity Jesus prayed for us to have.

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UBF Needs Troublemakers

troublemakersPlease cause trouble! A friend sent me this link and I thanked him for paying me the highest compliment: Make Trouble, My Friends. It is a commentary of what Pope Francis said to millions of young people in Argentina last month. The Pope’s exhortation is winning him acclaim as the renegade leader of the world’s largest church. To shake up the church he said, “I want to see the church get closer to the people. I want to get rid of clericalism, the mundane, this closing ourselves off within ourselves, in our parishes (churches)…or structures.” His final message was, “Don’t forget: Make trouble.” Doesn’t this “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable”? I am beginning to love the Pope! I long to hear a senior UBF leader say something like this. This was perhaps David Weed’s dream.

Does the Pope’s exhortation ring true for UBF??? Continue reading →

The Upside Down Kingdom

aOne of the points in Chris Brown‘s sermon at the 2013 WCA Global Leadership Summit was about Jesus turning leadership upside down. Here is a different sermon from a wealth of sermons by a fellow pastor at North Coast Church. This sermon expands well on the upside-down gospel Jesus preached.
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What I Experienced at the 2013 WCA GLS

glsEach year since 1995, Willow Creek Association in Chicago has hosted a two day leadership conference called the Global Leadership Summit. In 2013, that summit has grown to reach 98 countries and to have participation from 14,000 churches represented by over 90 denominations. The GLS is truly a global movement. This year 75,000 church leaders in America attended and over 95,000 more are signed up to attend as each host country presents the summit talks around the world in the next several months. Here is what I saw at this yearly summit (yes yearly, not every four years or every other year).

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How To Improve Our UBF Messages

preacherCritiquing our UBF messages (sermons) at the 2013 ISBC is NOT an indictment against the messengers. To say that a message sounds like the “same old same old” tired UBF messages of old is not an indictment of the person preaching, but simply an assessment and evaluation of how the message sounded to their listeners and audience.

My firm conviction is that any preacher or messenger is most helped when they are honestly told how well or poorly they did. If a preacher does not wish to listen to any unfavorable critique of their preaching, then they will not improve as a preacher, even after decades of preaching. (Saying, “You gave a wonderful message helps no one.”)

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Levity From A Friend: Love Your Husband

I love youMaybe some of you had heard this before. I had not and found myself laughing. After a friend emailed me this, I thought I’d post it to “lighten the mood” somewhat with our “heavy duty” discussions regarding the ISBC, which incidentally I love, because they are HOT. Here goes:

There was a group of women gathered at a seminar on “How to live in a loving relationship with your husband.” The women were asked, “How many of you love your husbands?” All the women raised their hands.

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The Woolly Mammoth in the Room

wAs I read through Ben’s reflections on the 2013 ubf ISBC and the comments that followed, I was encouarged to see honest sharing. That tells me the gospel messages are permeating the ubf fabric. Here are my observations.

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